“Excuse me, ma’am, can I see your licence for that inbox?”

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It must be human curiosity, but when the latest spam report came out from computer security expert Sophos I headed over to see, ‘what are people falling for now?’
The top spam categories are still medications (Viagra and its cousins account for 40%), and mortgages, but a growing concern is the rise in “pump and dump” schemes. These types of spam promote purchase of a stock with misleading or false information, sometimes ‘enhanced’ with real publication quotes to lend an air of legitimacy. Their aim is to target small companies with limited resources to combat such a campaign, elevate the stock price so that the spammers can cash out and leave investors high and dry and the company facing a PR crisis and worse.
Spammers exist only because there are enough people buying into their fraud. Many spam schemes are now run by the mafia, funding other nefarious activities including drug trafficking and arms dealing.
For the good of us all, isn’t it time to implement a user licence for the inbox?


It needn’t be an onerous process and could be presented to be entertaining and educational. Simply present the user every 6 months with an interactive test to determine their own ‘spam spotter’ score — they must achieve a rating of 80% or higher — before being allowed to download or access their email.
The quiz might include a multiple choice option for spotting ‘phishing’ vs. legitimate bank email, choose how much of your ISP fees you could be saving if there was no spam, how to say sorry to all the parties hurt by spam (so sorry, so very sorry, oh I truly am sorry), and finally ‘spot the spam in your inbox’ just by reviewing a list of senders and subject lines.
If that doesn’t work, and shaming spammers who have no shame definitely doesn’t work, how about publicizing names and pictures of people who respond to spam? I’m not generally inclined to embarrass people for simple mistakes… but really, should we be letting them out alone in cyberspace — for their own sake?

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