An addicted insider’s account of our real lives in the era of the realtime, social web.

The 200 Billion-to-One Longshot

There are about 200 billion spam messages sent via the internet each day. You tweak your filters, you try different mail services, you opt out of every list, but the spam keeps on coming. Even if it doesn’t make it to your inbox, it’s there, in your spam folder along with those one or two false positives that you actually wanted to make it to your inbox.

You complain. So do I — mostly as a mutter under my breath. But Daniel Balsam did more. He quit his job, went to law school and has dedicated his career to suing companies that send out spam. He’s earned more than a million in settlements, and as he says, “I feel like I’m doing a little bit of good cleaning up the Internet.”

Balsam mostly sues companies he accuses of violating California’s anti-spam law.

Among other restrictions, the law prohibits companies from sending spam with headers that misleads the recipient into believing the e-mail is noncommercial or comes with offers of “free” products that aren’t true.

The law also requires a way for Internet consumers to “opt out” of receiving any more spam from a sender.

I’d send Balsam a thank-you note, but I’m guessing he’s not a fan of unsolicited email.


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My name is Dave Pell, internet superhero. This blog provides an addicted insider's account of what's happening to us in the era of the realtime, social web. You can read more about the site, grab the rss feed, follow me on twitter, join the Facebook page, or get email updates.