When millions of unsolicited e-mails wreaked havoc on an Iowa business owner's small ISP company, he didn't take it lightly. After tracking down the source of the spam, Robert Kramer III, owner and operator of CIS Internet Services, sued and won an $11.2 billion judgment on Dec. 23, 2005, in an Iowa federal court. The massive award comes just two years after he won a $1 billion judgment against three marketing companies that flooded his servers with spam in 2003. His recent victory against Miami-based spammer James McCalla is the largest judgment ever in an anti-spam suit. It sent a cheer through the ISP community and a warning to companies that use e-mail marketing.
While many ISPs had hoped the 2004 enactment of the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act (CAN-SPAM) would reduce spam, Kramer's case exemplifies that it's still a problem.
Mitchell agrees. "The problem is that marketing departments say 'we've got this great idea for our campaign. Let's e-mail everyone who has ever bought anything from us.'"
Not only could marketing departments' actions violate anti-spamming laws, but using your customers' e-mail addresses is just bad business. According to a poll Slashdot.com conducted, business-relationship spam, the form of spam you get when companies you deal with add you to their mailing lists, is consumers' "most hated" form of spam.