Omani Spam

Email is one of the most abused methods for sending spam as more than 75% of all emails sent in the world are spam messages. I take all logically reasonable methods to protect my email address from being collected by spambots, but like everyone else on this planet, somehow spam still ends up collecting in my inbox. It is very unlikely for me to be fooled by an email scam and I will never buy something from a company that sends me an unsolicited email, but I still hate the amount of time it takes me to go through my email inbox on daily basis to find real messages in the piles of advertisements I never asked for.

Even though spam filters have developed over the years and a great number of spam messages will be recognized and blocked by most email clients, spammers have always been one step ahead of filter technologies and have developed advanced techniques for making sure that their messages are not detected. That is the reason why the best method for combating spam is by relying on legislation rather than technology.

Many countries around the world have criminalized spam and impose various restrictions on those who attempt to send mass commercial messages to the public, such restrictions include the requirement to enable end users to opt-out of any mailing list, prohibition of hiding the sender’s identity, and the prohibition of the collection of email addresses without the consent of their owners.

Until very recently the use of email marketing was not a mainstream strategy for companies in Oman, but along with the growth of the use of the internet in the country came the awareness of the ease at which products and services can be marketed using simple email messages, and now even companies in Oman participate in the shameful act of spam. I personally received an unsolicited email message advertising an upcoming technology exhibition in Muscat, an email message about a local IT solutions company advertising its services to install Google apps for businesses, and many other countless messages from random Omani online discussion boards. I am sure I never gave my email address to any of these senders and none of these messages instructed me on how to unsubscribe.

I doubt that any of these companies think about the consequences of their bulk messages and I do not think that they consider themselves as spammers, yet even though they ought to know that what they are doing is unacceptable, they are still technically not doing anything illegal as the law in Oman does not prohibit sending an unsolicited commercial message to anyone. This got to change before the use of email in Oman becomes bloated with advertisements and online scams.

Until the law clearly makes this an offense, you can play your role in fighting spam by always using the ‘report spam’ or ‘mark as spam’ button if it is made available by your email provider, this helps in detecting future messages as spam for you and other people. Make sure that you do not ever trust a company that sends you an unsolicited email, and never send advertisements yourself to other people who do not explicitly tell you that they are interested in receiving them!

This post was originally published as a column on Muscat Daily.

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