Today’s Editorial for March 12: Spam more than a nuisance

If it were not for spam filters on the email accounts at Cayman Free Press, our journalists would spend a good portion of the day doing nothing but deleting junk emails.

Spam – for those who haven’t entered the Internet age yet – is unsolicited email that promotes the products, services or ideas of the sender.

Because our journalists’ email addresses are published in the stories they write, and because those stories are uploaded to the caycompass.com website, our journalists’ names end up on email lists all over the world. The resulting spam comes in many languages and promotes all sorts of things, some of them legitimate and some not.

Unfortunately, we also get a lot of spam from local businesses, and since we are a news organisation that receives email from many sources, we still spend a lot of time opening what amount to advertisements. Often, all or most of our journalist receive the same spam email.

Not only is spam a waste of work time, it takes up valuable computer space. As a result, we have to spend even more time cleaning up our in-boxes because of space limitations.

On occasion, the lack of network space has become such an issue that our IT department has had to issue company-wide instructions to delete unnecessary emails, causing a disruption to the normal working day for everyone. Spam makes up a large portion of the unwanted email.

Email software like Microsoft Outlook allows computer users to send email coming from specified senders directly to junk mail, but the staff must still later manually erase those messages from the junk mail folder and then from the deleted message folder.

Incoming spam used to come mostly from overseas entities. More and more, however, local entities are using it as a marketing tool. The reason is simple: there is little or no cost in spamming. Once the time is spent creating an email distribution list, a spammer only has to create and email and then he or she can spam away.

It’s not just na├»ve new business owners who use the tactic; some long-established businesses and even one of already-announced political candidates also use the method frequently.

If you ask us, there should be a law against sending spam from within the Cayman Islands. The Information and Communications Technology Authority thinks so, too, and will recommend an amendment to the existing ICTA law prohibiting spam. Hopefully, the government will take the advice.

Especially in these tough economic times, the government should do whatever it can to help reduce business costs and improve efficiencies.

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