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October 6, 1998 | Albion.com, San Francisco | Issue #007

Spammers Repent!

Can o' SPAM "Increase Your Paycheck Next Week" barked the subject line. A typical spam for a typical Tuesday morning, from one "World Net Press" in Las Vegas, Nevada. But this was not a simple case of spam-and-run. No, no, no, this bit of spam hit the Cypherpunks mailing list like processed meat through a fan. Hanging there in the sig was a huge hunk of flamebait:

Please be advised we collect the e-mail addresses of all flamers, hackers, and users of abusive and vulgar language. We submit these addresses to the FBI and Interpol on a monthly basis.

Spammers repent! If you're going to go out and steal computing resources and drop turds on millions of mailboxes, don't add insult to injury by threatening to narc on legitimate flamers. I mean, duh, you're sending spam! Flames are part of the direct marketing response you're asking for. Surely you don't expect hugs-and-kisses back from your victims.

Plus, by using the words "FBI" and "Interpol" in your message, you almost certainly caught the attention of those organizations. Even if these keywords didn't trigger automated "snoop engines" (hey there!), the Cypherpunks list is almost certainly under law enforcement surveillance -- one recently busted list member was fond of ranting about what he called "Assassination Politics."

Spammers repent! If you're going to commit crimes, even petty crimes, across state lines, don't hang a hulking shingle outside your front door saying "bust me!"

Finally, at least one esteemed member of the Cypherpunks list took offense at the spammers' threat. In fact, he slipped right over the edge. Here's an excerpt from his biting response:

HEY!!! ASSHOLE!!!! HOW ABOUT YOU FORWARD THIS "ABUSIVE" LANGUAGE TO YOUR FUCKING FBI AND "INTERPOL" YOU FUCKING SHITHEAD!!!!! IF I EVER SEE YOU ON THE STREET, MARK MY WORDS, YOU ARE A DEAD MAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Spammers repent! You have severely pissed off millions of people. Any mass-mailed message sets off thousands of people with mediocre mental health and/or a propensity to violence. Did I mention Assassination Politics? Don't think that the effort to conceal your identity is anything but the barest fig leaf. Did I mention that you're sending threats to some of the hardest-core crackers on the planet? Sooner or later, some poor spammer will get hit. Hard. Maybe you.

Here's another perky response to a spam sent to Cypherpunks:

Wow, what a spectacular offer you've given us! And guess what? Today's your lucky day! You know why? I'll tell you. See, I'm independently wealthy, and so while I have no need to participate in your scam, I've decided that it would definitely be worth $10,000 of my own money to have you and everyone else on your stinking list killed!

Spammers repent! To the extent that cyberspace is still a vast electronic frontier, you are the petty thieves taking advantage of the frontier's freedom. Rustling bits; slowing down the stage coaches. Don't be surprised at the cruel efficiency of frontier justice. If the sheriff doesn't get you first.

-- Seth Ross

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