The festive season has just ended, but the number of newsletters or unwanted emails — or spam — clogging your inbox can get on your nerves. And no matter what you do — unsubscribe, delete or set spam filters — new ones emerge daily, making the task of sorting genuine, useful mails daunting.
India is hailed online as the king of spam with a dubious distinction of contributing 16.1 per cent of the world’s junk emails. In fact, our reputation of being a global spammer is so immense that one blogger has actually taken to the web to post every spam he receives from the country. Posted on indianspamemails. blogspot.in, the frustrated blogger says, “I’m getting around 10 spam emails from India per day. All sent to my company email address. I did everything to stop them, but it keeps coming. So, I finally decided to forward all of them to a blog. If you also have the same problem, just share your spam email as a comment.”
Back home, the story follows a similar line. Karthik Shah, 36, stockbroker, reveals that he spends half his day sorting his email to find relevant ones from his clients. He says, “For every genuine email, I receive two unwanted ones. The worst part is that for every email I block or unsubscribe from, I get a new one that I have to repeat the process for. It is frustrating.”
While most newsletters do offer the option to unsubscribe, they often fail to implement it. So, despite repeated attempts and a few emails to the sender’s official email address, you realise that you are still being spammed. Anish Ghoshal, partner, PDS & Associates, a law firm, says, “The problem is that there is no legislation in India to govern spam specifically. So, it would be difficult to stop such emails even after you unsubscribe. However, should spam lead to legal injury, provisions of the general law would apply, but it would be difficult to call such an act an offense. Accordingly, it would be difficult to determine a punishment for the act. The only way is to create regulatory framework is to make spamming an offense. But it would still be difficult to regulate, as the Internet knows no jurisdictional boundaries.”
Hall of shame
According to online security firm Sophos, you can thank India for about one out of six spam messages cluttering your inbox. The country topped the spam list between July and September, 2012 and is the world’s current top clutter creator.
The countries that made the top five of this infamous league included:
India 16.1 per cent
Italy 9.4 per cent
USA 6.5 per cent
Saudi 5.1 per cent
Brazil 4 per cent
How to Stop spam
Install spam filters. Mozilla’s Thunderbird or Apple’s Mail come with built-in spam filters. Invest time in teaching Gmail to recognise unwanted email addresses and keywords.
Avoid opening unsolicited email. Do not click on them. Doing so gives the spammer a signal that the email account is active.
Use multiple email addresses. Avoid using your personal email address for official purposes.
Spammers scan through websites, and look out for @ symbol. Use the word at in your email address instead.
Beware of ads offering free gift promotions and sign-in contests. Spammers use this ploy to copy your contact list.
Do not write your email address in paper forms at banks or other companies. Most not only send you spam but also sell the address to third parties.
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