I felt compelled to write this article after a recent bad experience of my own. Spam vigilantes abound on internet and unfortunately a right which every person should have in civilised democracies - in fact a basic human right - does not exist in relation to spam and spam complaints. This vigilante activity would not be tolerated offline - normally one cannot simply take law into one's own hands but it seems this has become acceptable online. However below I do recommend a solution and an association which can help you.
INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY
And yes that is in capitals to shout at you - that is single most important thing in any legal system. Also here is one more:
IT IS BETTER TO LET 99 GUILTY PEOPLE GO FREE RATHER THAN CONVICT ONE INNOCENT PERSON
If you bear these 2 principles in mind you will treat everyone else fairly and be treated fairly yourself. You get back 10 times in life what you give to others - just not necessarily from same people that you give to.
Now problem on internet is that spam has no real precise definition and it is open to interpretation. What you view as unsolicited someone else may well appreciate. Now don't get me wrong, I don't advocate or support spam in any form whatsoever but I support innocent until proven guilty and a common sense approach.
For example you should only send out your newsletter to people who have requested it and not harvest email addresses from discussion forums. But what happens when someone forgets they have subscribed or is just too plain lazy to unsubscribe or contact you first to discuss matter? Requiring someone to confirm their subscription will not protect you if you are presumed guilty. Many of you will have heard of SpamCop - a self made spam vigilante, who in my opinion does not act responsibly or obey 2 most important principles stated above, which are necessary for any democracy to operate. Also SpamCop doesn't care less about small operators and unfairly favours big well known brand names.
From Spamcop's definition and comments about spam:
"In general, email from reputable companies, such as Microsoft and Amazon are opt-in, and if you receive email purporting to be from a company you would Normally consider being legitimate, you should consider carefully possibility that you did agree to receive it some time in past. If you are sure You did not, then it may be someone attempting to appear to be a representative of company in question, but who actually does not have consent of company. Once in a while, a large, otherwise reputable organization will "accidentally" send out some unsolicited email. The main domain-name registry, Network Solutions, is a notable example of this. It has in past sent outright spam and has been widely criticized for this action among spam-fighters. In any case, if you are sure that you did not request email, then you are well within your rights to report it as spam."
Just because you think you didn't request it does not mean person is guilty of spam. Then again maybe you have right to be judge, jury and executioner :->
So if you can afford to spend millions, make a loss and develop your name, SpamCop thinks you are then innocent until proven guilty but if you are poor and like most of us you are guilty - talk about justice for Rich only.
I want you to think carefully - and then think again - and then sleep on it - before you report someone for spam. Their business, their very future, and income they use to support their family is at stake. I am not being melodramatic as you will see when I tell you my personal story now.
Recently I changed distribution sources for sending out my ezine. I did not trust my ezine in hands of anyone else and my previous system was unreliable so I now use a system on my own domain. However I had a problem exporting subscribers from my previous service. I therefore had to use copies of subscription request emails that I had on my computer. I knew that this meant I would be importing some people who had already unsubscribed. However I gave a full explanation in my ezine and a surprise gift when people unsubscribed to make up for it.
However obviously some people weren't content with my humble apology and explanation. I was reported to SpamCop. Did Spamcop contact me first to discuss matter? Did they tell me who complainer was (a well known principle of all justice systems also where an accused has right to confront their accuser)? Did they even think this ezine may have been opt in and do nothing? No on all counts!