India needs an anti-Spam Law. Soon.

Even while social drinking has become widely accepted in today’s society, the need for certain social regulations is necessary for all activities – social and professional – to maintain a decorum in the society. A few years back a couple of civilians (including popular celebs), got involved in terrible accidents under a heavy influence of alcohol. Many people lost their lives in these accidents. The government had to do something that would make every citizen think twice before he got behind the wheel after enjoying more than a couple of drinks. A brutal penalty was enforced on driving under the influence of alcohol; and ever since the occurrence of such instances has gone into a downward spiral. Not that enforcing these laws have totally eliminated the occurrences of such mishaps, but they have certainly curtailed the numbers and made the streets of Mumbai much safer.

On the one hand, speed, personal touch and cost-effectiveness of emails has increased, making them the most efficient means of revenue generation. However, this has also resulted in an exponential rise in the number of unsolicited commercial emails clogging inboxes globally. Cisco’s IronPort Senderbase Security Network has been tracking global spam volumes since its inception and reveals that today Spam accounts for 85% of the total global email traffic.

Spam incurs additional expenses to the user in terms of more storage space, bandwidth utilization and time spent in separating legitimate emails from Spam and discarding Spam. Additionally, Spam also reduces effectiveness of legitimate emails as there is a very high risk of these emails getting lost or overlooked in the Spam clutter. In short, Spam causes loss of time and money, both being extremely critical resources. Not only does it affect the recipient, but also organizations/ brands that are sending genuine commercial emails anti-Spam algorithms that are so stringent that even genuine mails find it hard to make it to the inbox. Thus, all the time and money spent behind cracking those out-of-box ideas, spending long hours getting the creatives in place, proof-reading, co-ordinating with various departments to get that one final, killer promotional email, goes down the drain. This affects your bottom-line quite hard (especially during those nerve-racking board meetings with your boss).

Wouldn’t you want to have a permanent fix for this problem?

Government bodies in the United States, the European Union, Australia and Canada have also realized this menace and have taken preventive steps by implementing robust anti-Spam acts. With the Indian E-commerce revenue reaching US$1.6 billion in 2012 (source: Forester – Trends in India’s eCommerce), the time has arrived for India to also embrace an anti-Spam Act of its own to ensure regulation of unsolicited commercial emails, so that legitimate emails get the deserved attention.

The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) has already taken this initiative and is in discussions with the country’s major Email Service Providers (ESPs) to arrive at a standard set of anti-Spam guidelines. These ESPs are putting forth the best email marketing practices observed in the industry along with stringent measures to ensure that emails are no longer abused. People deserve to receive genuine emails that makes life simpler for them.

Everyone will agree that one can’t afford to waste time and money on irrelevant email. Neither can organizations afford to waste resources on creating commercial emails that eventually land in Spam. Hopefully, we shall soon have an anti-Spam law that will set the tone for commercial emails. Our inboxes may be clean of all the litter caused by Spam. But will this initiative really make a difference? Only time will tell.

Dec, 29, 2012

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