With the best intentions, or merely to seem like they were doing something at all to get re-elected, the US Government passed something called CANSPAM, which was legislation designed to keep our email inboxes from overflowing with unwanted email.
One of the provisions of that legislation is that email marketers must include a link in their messages to a method to unsubscribe from the mailing list.
Up until now, most email marketers have complied with this requirement in good faith. It may be extremely small, at the bottom of the email message, but the link will take you to the unsubscribe page. Some automatically unsubscribe you. Thank you. Some put your email address into a form field and require you to confirm. That’s one extra step, but fine, thank you.
When the unsubscribe page requires you to key in your own email address and then click a button to unsubscribe, that is inconvenient. I don’t like it. It annoys me. But that is not as bad as what I saw today.
Today, I had a few minutes and one of the email addresses I use has become overwhelmed with spam and offers that don’t interest me at all. I don’t spend a lot of time in this email account, so I am loathe to spend any time on the onerous maintenance task of unsubscribing from email lists, but I set aside a few minutes to do so today.
So imagine how I was taken aback when the unsubscribe page for a spammy email message had a Captcha field in it after the blank email address field.
Yes, a Captcha field to unsubscribe! One of those graphics with mangled text, and a text box to translate it.
And it was small, so it was hard to discern.
Worse yet, it was about 12 digits long, random digits, and mixed case!
When I keyed in the text in the graphic into the field, it rejected it! It did this 3 times before I tried a refresh. The refresh wouldn’t take either. Nor several more. I don’t think it works at all.
I tried replying to the email address, threatening to report them to the FTC for violation of the CANSPAM act, and wouldn’t you know it, my ISP, Verizon would not allow the message to go out. Instead, I got a warning that the message I was sending appeared to be spam. Imagine the irony! Verizon lets spam in, but not back out. It’s like my inbox has become a Roach Motel for spam!
Finally, I Googled how to report spam, and found a link to the FTC web site here: http://www.onguardonline.gov/articles/0038-spam#report and here: http://www.ftc.gov/complaint
Continuing on, I see that there are a lot more messages with this same abuse of the unsubscribe requirement. I wonder if I’ll just have to abandon this email address. Perhaps if enough of us complain, the FTC will prosecute and we can again be safe from spam.