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Spam: Not my idea of a lunch meat anymore – Part 1
by Janice D. Byer, CCVA, MVA
Docu-Type Administrative & Web Services

In the first installment in our series on Spam, we took a look at some of the ways the spammers get a hold of your email address. In this part, we will look at some of the ways we can help reduce the instances of spam. 

How can WE try to curb the influx of spam: 

No matter how hard we try, there really isn’t a sunny prediction regarding spam and spammers. For most, we only see it getting worse but hopefully those brains that provide us with great programs to produce things can also come up with miracle solutions to decrease or eliminate the spam that is overwhelming our Inboxes, and our lives. 

Support government initiative: 

I know… another ‘task force’ set up to ‘research the issue and the possibilities’. But, anything is better than nothing. 

In the United States, most states have there own individual laws regarding spam. They range in wording and the extent of the enforcement but most center around trying to reduce the instances spam or at least make it easier for anti-spam software to pick up on the fact that an email is indeed spam. 

For instance, in the state of Colorado, the Colorado Junk Email Law, which was enacted in June 2000, states that unsolicited commercial email must contain a ‘label’ (ie. ADV). By including this, spam programs and email programs have something that will help make it easier to identify the email as spam. It also states that the sender must include their email address and that there must be an opt-out option and it must be honoured. 

However, the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 may pre-empt each state’s laws. 

For more information on the laws in each state, I found a great little website that lists the laws in full. I am assuming that this information is correct, it sure is interesting anyway. The website is located at . You can also read about the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 at .  

More recently, Industry Canada announced the development of an Anti-Spam Initiative or Task Force, if you will, for Canada. Lucienne Robillard, Minister of Industry, made the announcement in Ottawa, Ontario on May 11, 2004.  

The Spam Task Force will be involved in a 6-point action plan involving specific initiatives by government and the private sector. It will bring together experts and key stakeholders representing businesses and consumers. Results from their collaboration will help in determining what actions need to be taken in order to achieve the goal of drastically reducing or even eliminating spam. 

There are current anti-fraud provisions in the Canadian Criminal Code, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act and the Competition Act that can be used against spammers but the task force will look for added solutions that will help continue the thriving path that the Canadian Internet marketplace is following. They are committed to addressing the spam issue in an effective and comprehensive fashion and are not ruling out new public policies, regulations or even legislation if it they feel it is clearly necessary. 

For more information on the Canadian Spam Task Force, visit the or do a search on Google and you will be given tons of links to articles and news stories relating to the initiative.  

For information on spam laws in other countries, visit or do a search for spam laws or anti spam (and then indicate your country) in a search engine and you should receive numerous sites that you can visit. 

Use spam filters: 

Most of us now have anti-virus programs on our computers. If you don’t, you are just inviting trouble to happen. Virus’ are everywhere and you need to have a program and keep the virus definitions up to date.  

We even have firewalls and security programs but that doesn’t stop spam from making its way into out Inboxes. The newer security programs now also include anti-spam features. You can also buy anti-spam programs that work directly in your email program to help filter spam into folders that make it easier to avoid and delete them.  

I recently upgraded to Norton Security 2004 which includes the anti-spam feature. It adds a Spam folder in my Outlook and sends what it detects as spam to that folder and labels the subject line with [NortonAntiSpam]. You can then scan through the folder and unflag any that the program may have picked up by mistake and with one click of a button, it will empty the folder into the Deleted Items folder.

Updating your spam definitions is easy to do by simply clicking on your Live Update button, the same as you do to update your virus definitions. You can get a copy of Norton Security at

I also have an anti-spam program called Mailshell. This program is similar to the feature in Norton Security in the fact that it establishes a folder for the spam in my Outlook. However, it seems to take longer for emails to be scanned when they are coming in; you have to Select All in the folder before it can be emptied; and you have to download a new version of the software in order to update the spam it can catch. However, it does a great job of catching spam when it is up to date. You can find out more at .  

You can also contact your hosting company and ask them to turn on the anti-spam filter on your account. You may even be able to turn it on yourself or adjust the settings through your administration panel of your account. If it is already turned on, ask your host to ‘turn it up a notch’ but not too far otherwise it may start sending legitimate email to the Trash. 

In our next installment in our series on Spam, we will look at more ways to help reduce spam and what we need to do in the future. If you would like to read the whole series, please visit    


Janice Byer, owner of Docu-Type Administrative & Web Design Services, provides professional, creative and affordable virtual office assistance and small business website design. She is a Certified Canadian Virtual Assistant (CCVA) and Master Virtual Assistant (MVA). She is also the author of Surfin' The Net - Docu-Type's Virtual Collection of Links, which is filled with the secrets of her success. Visit her website for more information and to get your copy.


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