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Spamhaus vs. e360. Which Side Should A Legitimate Email Marketer Take?

Every email marketer has heard by now about e360insight.com's whopping $11.6 million judgment against the notorious and often feared blacklist The Spamhaus Project.  As an email marketer, I wince at the mere idea at one of Spamhaus' "volunteers" reading my blog that criticizes the organization and as a result point their loaded guns at my business.  However, I do live in the United Stats and last time I checked the First Amendment is still alive and I think it's about time someone from my industry poke a few holes in Spamhaus' model even if it means that I will have to dodge a few rotten from the far left of spam vigilantism.

According to many members of the Email Senders and Providers Coalition (http://www.espcoalition.org/), of which Gold Lasso is still debating about becoming a member, legislated lists of email addresses or any legislative lists of anything related to email marketing is a bad thing.  I find it ironic however that these same people never openly criticize black lists and how they wreak havoc on legitimate email marketers.  By this statement I'm not suggesting that Spamhaus' labeling of e360 as a spammer is right or wrong. I am not familiar with e360's business or anyone related to the company.  However, I have dealt with Spamhaus on behalf of a client, and it wasn't fun to say the least.  Gold Lasso's main client base is trade associations and nonprofits.  As a member of these groups, you expressly give them permission to send you email yet a very prestigious client of mine with over 300,000 members in the academic community ended up on Spamhaus' list.  Just as e360 claimed in its complaint against Spamhaus, I found myself frantically searching for a non-existing phone number.  After a week of email exchange with an unidentified representative, I finally convinced the individual that my internationally recognized client was not a spammer nor were any of Gold Lasso's servers compromised by a spammer.  The net result was missed opportunities of my client's abilities to share vital academic research, sell books and other items that help augment its budget and most important, deliver information to their members of which they expressly asked to receive.

Some analyst estimate the direct mail industry to be $27 billion stretched across postal fees, printing, envelopes and the hundreds of thousands of people that make it all work. What would happen to the direct mail industry if some rouge group decided to take over local post offices chucking various piece of mail they thought to be unwanted by its recipients?  Worse, what if the post office opened the doors and feely let them do this? As the email industry grows, so too is its economic impact on this country.  Right now this nascent industry is fast becoming the most relied on medium for retailers, publishers, associations, educators, manufacturers, etc. to sell their wears, exchange ideas, and provide much needed information.  Having a group that can not be reached via the telephone determine who is a spammer and who is not could have a catastrophic economic impact on this industry in the next five years.

Given my criticisms of Spamhaus, overall they do a good job of catching the crooks, hucksters and pornographers.  Their technological methods are effective however just as a tuna fisherman they tend to catch a lot of untargeted dolphins.  Since most anti-spam efforts are a result of IP address and domain filtering, would it be such a bad thing if ICANN incorporated Spamhaus into its organization?  This maybe a pie in the sky thought, but it's better than the Legit Email Marketing Industry vs. Spamhaus nightmare that will likely unfold.

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