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Getting To The Meat Of Spam

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Emerging Trends in Engineering Education Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.665.1 - 10.665.6



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Paper Authors

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John Kaplan

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Kathleen Kaplan

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session Multimedia

Getting to the Meat of SPAM

Kathleen M. Kaplan, D.Sc., Lt Col John J. Kaplan (Ph.D., J.D.) USAF

Howard University/USAF


Spam is a part of everyday life. These unwanted, unsolicited emails are a constant nuisance and flood email boxes daily. The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 attempts to address this issue, but there are glaring problems with this law, including the fact that third parties are not liable. If third- parties, such as Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and others, will spam ever stop?

The problem has been discussed in technical circles for years. There have been Request for Comments (RFCs) related to spam, such as RFC 2505, but most people seem to throw up their hands when faced with this problem.

This paper discusses the current interest in spam from an Intellectual Property (IP) aspect. It also discusses the problems with the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 and gives RFCs to review. It’s time we engineers got to the meat of spam!


Spam is unwanted email, the term itself being derived from a Monty Python sketch. It is not to be confused with Spam®, a registered trademark of a family of meat products made by Hormel Foods1. In the Internet community, spam, the unwanted email, is not capitalized.

Spam ranges from a nuisance to a danger. A nuisance spam email is a chain letter, whereas a dangerous spam email is a fraud attempt, such as a bogus eBay mailing attempting to obtain personal information about a user. Many people are interested in spam, including legislators, researchers, and businesses. One interesting forum is held by The Massachusetts Institute of Technology; the next MIT Spam Conference will be held in January 20052. There is a great deal of interest in this subject, and it should be addressed in the engineering classroom.

CAN-SPAM Act of 2003

The bill was signed by the President on December 16, 2003, and became an effective law on January 1, 2004. This law was designed to eliminate, or “can,” spam, but it actually has very little bite. There is no liability for third parties, such as Internet Service Providers (ISPs), thus,

“Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright 2005, American Society for Engineering Education”

Kaplan, J., & Kaplan, K. (2005, June), Getting To The Meat Of Spam Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14255

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