Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Spam and blocks
Lately I have added a new ritual to my mornings. I go through all the spam that gets aroudn the college fences and into my mailbox. I right-click on everything that looks suspicious, and block it. Frequently I block whole domains. There are however some domains I would love to block, but if I do I'll block friends and family:, and are prominent among those.

What bothers me while I keep blocking domains is that I use a rather elitistic system for my decisions. If it is an adress that looks like it comes from one of the east-block countries, I block it. If there is "bargain" in the the name anywhere, I block it. If there are weird letter combinations in the name of the sender, I block it. And if there is a russian, polish or checkoslovakian brother out there who is really concerned about his teen-age sisters and wants to discuss them with me - sorry man, that mail has been blocked.

Problem is - what if some of these odd email domains I block is the latvian equivalent of hotmail? What if I close my inbox to the people who can't afford an exclusive and expensive ISP with a spam-free server to write from? The spamming of mail-boxes is annoying, to say the least, for people like me, in rich institutions in rich countries - but it is devastating to those who may not have any other option but free email-addresses that you can access on the web from cheap or free access points such as public libraries or dingy internet cafés. This makes spammers not just annoying, but anti-egalitarian, and the argument that free enterprise makes web-access available for the people is once again proven to be another pile of BS.

No comments: