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Dan hates spam

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Monday December 27, 2010 )

Meet Dan. Dan hates spam. Nothing unique there, most of us do – even many marketers. What makes Dan different is he likes to sue spammers for chuckles and profit.. and yes, he does succeed.

As I clawed through my inbox yet again to find the ham among the spam today, I was left with little doubt as to why it can be so hard to get folks’ attention these days – even those people who have confirmed they want to hear from you.

Spam is evil. It’s evil for the user, it’s evil to ethical marketing and the Internet overall. It’s estimated anything up to 90% of email traffic is spam.

Most of us just make do with spam filters to reduce the flow, but Dan Balsam and his attorneys opt to use attack rather than defense.

On the home page of Dan’s site, he displays a contract that all persons, businesses, and other entities voluntarily enter into when sending unsolicited email (UCE) to his domain, He charges $25,000 per UCE he reads and responds to. Use misleading headers and that is jacked up by $10,000.

Even though the CAN-SPAM Act actually gives advertisers some wiggle room in terms of the equivalent of email cold calling, it does not pre-empt anti-spam state laws. It appears that California has tighter laws and these are the laws that Dan uses in order to file suits.

According to Dan’s site, he has dozens of small claims judgments against companies, and several judgments in the USA’s superior and federal court. Dan’s list of successful claims contains some quite well known names.

Unlike some of the ambulance-chasing and troll-type law suits that happen in conjunction with online activities; overall I admire Dan’s approach. One aspect that is a little bit troubling is the fact that if a merchant has an affiliate that falls into Dan’s trap, he may choose to chase the merchant too.

However, I do understand that some merchants will turn a blind eye to an affiliate that spams if that affiliate gets results. Even so, some affiliates go rogue before a merchant can do anything.

One of the other issues isthat the bulk of the spam generated globally is cranked out by a comparatively few groups. According to Spamhaus, up to 80% of spam Internet users in North America and Europe receive is generated by around 100 known professional spam gangs, many of the outside the USA’s shores.

I doubt very much Dan’s actions will do anything to deter the real spam thugs. While Dan isn’t going to solve the spam problem single-handed, he’s getting a fair bit of media coverage at the moment. I guess we can expect to see Dan-type clones popping up, emulating his action.

While the hard-core spammers might escape Dan’s wrath, it does put everyone else on notice that they may not – something to bear in mind with your email marketing campaigns (another reason why double-opt in lists and solid email marketing software is the *only* way to go) and how you recruit and manage affiliates.


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