I thought web hosting companies were the ones blocking spam

We use a Barracuda to keep spam out of our email at Anchor. Having overcome some early teething issues and generally handling it with care it does do quite a good job of keeping spam out of our email to the point that it doesn’t really bother you – most of the time.

Perhaps that’s why the delightful email I received from Cosmotel Web Hosting caught my eye this morning – I just don’t get that much spam these days. Note the URL’s use of the words “emailmarketing”, I guess to some that is another name for spam.

My quarantine box always has a good collection of spam covering the ever enlightening topics of how to last longer on the job, how to make my schlong – well, long I guess, and of course all manner of exciting prescription medicines. It would be fair to say that the majority of this doesn’t originate from Australia and those generating could benefit from re-evaluating their ethics.

What surprised me about receiving spam from another hosting company is that as a web hosting provider you spend a not insignificant amount of time blocking spam, dealing with customer complaints about getting too much spam and getting your own mail servers out of spam abuse lists from the occasional overzealous sales cadet. Surely as a hosting provider you’re more aware of the problems with spamming and the illegality of it than the average punter? Surely you would think more than twice before hitting the send button?

For those that aren’t clued up on the legal problems with spam, our guide to responsible email marketing will run you through the Spam Act of 2003. Yes 2003! that’s 6 years since spamming in Australia became illegal (technically a little under 5 as the act only came into effect in April 2004).

Looking on the bright side, this mornings colourful email promising me 99.95% uptime (really, only 21.6 minutes of downtime per month, from a website that appears to be hosted on a DSL link, perhaps we’re wasting money on our bgp implementation and 4 upstreams) for $58/year did make me ask the question – is our government actually doing anything to enforce the Spam Act of 2003?

My Google searches soon led me to the ACMA website where I discovered that they appear to be quite active. They have a plugin not just for the Outlook mail client, but Outlook Express as well. Great, time to bin my Apple and switch to a Windows PC. Dig a little further and to their credit ACMA have made available some very usable alternatives for non-Outlook users to report spam. You can register for an email address to forward messages to our report spam via a web form. I’m impressed.

What happens to it once a complaint is received? According to ACMA the emails go into a database and are used in investigations and proceedings against spammers. They quote some quite impressive statistics on data collection and enforcement activities.

Will the report from an unhappy camper receiving probably one of the less harmful types of spam from another player in their industry be investigated? I’ll let you know if I hear back from ACMA.

A nice quote from CosmoTel’s website: “CosmoTel has different work ethics to our competitors” – yes you certainly do!

p.s It seems I’m not the only one that isn’t happy about the Cosmotel spam¬†or questioning why a web hosting company is spamming!