Showing 3 posts tagged spam

Canada’s Anti-SPAM Law Coming Into Force June 2014

James Koons

Canada’s Anti-Spam Law, CASL, is now a done deal.

Last Thursday, the Treasury Board of Canada President (and champion of CASL) Tony Clement approved Industry Canada’s regulations in their finalized form. These will be published in The Canada Gazette December 18, 2013.

Today, Canadian Minister of Industry the Honourable James Moore announced CASL will come into force in June, 2014.

Bringing CASL into being has been an arduous, but meticulously thorough consultative process. Beginning in May 2004 with the Federal Task Force on Spam, The Government of Canada, with input from hundreds of stakeholders with an interest in safe and responsible online messaging have worked tirelessly to develop and deploy the world’s most stringent and comprehensive anti-spam law.

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The Inbox Within The Inbox

James Koons

After reading MediaPost’s Email Insider blog post “Marketing In The Age Of The Inbox Within The Inbox”, I was reminded once again of how important engagement is.  All of the major email providers including Gmail, Yahoo and Hotmail have implemented new algorithms for deliverability.  The new algorithms are based on engagement and if your emails are not triggering sufficient interaction from the recipient, they may not be delivered.

During M3AAWG’s 27th General Meeting in San Francisco, I learned that many of the major inbox providers have adopted a new algorithm that will calculate deliverability based on a combination of the original email delivery rules (think CAN-SPAM compliance) as well as some new email engagement factors.  These factors include open rates, clicks, unsubscribes, and complaints.  Because these new recipient behaviors are now factored in to the deliverability equation, future emails that you send may be considered SPAM or may not even be delivered at all.  This could occur with subscribers who have previously signed-up (opted-in) to receive your emails!  Also keep in mind that if enough recipients click the SPAM button, most email providers will assume that no one else wants it either.

A goal of Gmail’s Priority Inbox is to rank mail without explicit labeling from the user.  It does this by learning a per-user statistical model of importance and ranking mail by how likely the user is to act on that mail (remember that importance of an email is highly personal).  Some senders have realized that campaigns which specifically target Gmail users really work.  For example, in 2011, an online flower vendor experienced a dip in its Gmail inbox placement rate as it increased mailing frequency around Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day and didn’t recover until November 2011.  The following year, they took into account Gmail’s use of sender reputation and user engagement by using subject lines, such as: “Gmail Customer Notice: Open if you missed yesterday’s special discount!” and “Help Teach Gmail to Like us. Give us a Star” – encouraging users to mark the mail as important and thereby increasing the probability of landing in the Priority Inbox.  This vendor started using subject lines targeted to Gmail users at the end of February and stopped in April.  During that time, their inbox placement rate jumped form 35.9% to 95%.

Spamhaus: Keep That List Clean!

James Koons

During a recent ESPC call, I had the chance to speak with Alan Murphy, an investigator with The Spamhaus Project.  Among other topics, Alan discussed the importance of list hygiene, especially when sending transactional messages.  He pointed out that recently many bloggers wrote about The Spamhaus Project’s “new” spamtraps, which were targeting transactional messages.  Alan assured coalition members that The Spamhaus Project did not suddenly begin to “target” transactional mail.  In fact, he explained that they use several types of spam traps, including typo domains (typographical errors made by users when inputting their email address) as a data source, something they have been doing for over 10 years.  Alan indicated an increase in email address collection errors with address often being incorrectly entered.

In addition, he told us that change is constant at Spamhaus, and in fact several things had changed in late December of last year.  Some of these changes included more cross-referencing among their many spamtraps, improved communication among their maintainers, and a more in-depth machine analysis of spam headers.  Alan referenced the following case study, once again emphasizing the importance of list hygiene:

In this example, a domain expired in early to mid-2010, was re-registered by Spamhaus, and was placed in timeout for more than two years.  (Most new spamtrap domains are placed in timeout for at least six months, and many for year or more, before being put into production as a spamtrap.  While email is properly rejected during that aging process, data can still be collected before the SMTP rejection, hence the Subject history during that period.)  This spamtrap was configured to reject all email from this particular source, but the sender, after two years, still did not realize that the original recipient was not receiving their messages.

2011/01/15 Your receipt #{deleted}
2011/01/15 Your receipt #{deleted}
2011/01/17 Your receipt #{deleted}
2011/02/11 Your receipt #{deleted}
2011/02/15 Your receipt #{deleted}
2011/02/26 Your receipt #{deleted}
2011/03/10 Your receipt #{deleted}
2011/03/28 Your receipt #{deleted}
2011/03/28 Your receipt #{deleted}
….

2012/10/12 Your receipt No.{deleted}
2012/10/30 Your receipt No.{deleted}
2012/11/07 Your receipt No.{deleted}
2012/11/14 Your receipt No.{deleted}
2012/12/14 Your receipt No.{deleted}
2012/12/16 Your receipt No.{deleted}
2012/12/24 Your receipt No.{deleted}
2013/01/11 Your receipt No.{deleted}
2013/01/14 Your receipt No.{deleted}
2013/01/18 Your receipt No.{deleted}

In this example it is painfully obvious that this sender is not looking at their bounce logs.  They are also not performing any sort of list hygiene, as the messages were rejected in the SMTP conversation.  This case illustrates the problems caused when senders of transactional and bulk email ignore SMTP rejections.  The ongoing flow of presumably unintended bulk email from unattended mail systems operated by well-intentioned but careless senders is considered spam.

Alan concluded the call by reminding ESPC members that the mission of The Spamhaus Project is to keep unsolicited bulk email out of their users’ inbox.  Spamhaus is continually making adjustments in the data available for SBL listings and in how they handle the data.  Sometimes, as in the case above, those adjustments identify other spam problems.  List owners should be aware of hygiene issues, pay attention to bounce messages and proactively remove potentially incorrect addresses to keep themselves off of blacklists.