Commentary: Canned Spam and Other Phishing Expeditions | KERA News

Commentary: Canned Spam and Other Phishing Expeditions

Dallas, TX – Ever notice how solutions to problems often precipitate altogether new problems, or merely redirect them only to re-surface in some alternate incarnation, like pushing down on a water bed makes the water rise elsewhere on the mattress. And so it is in life after telemarketers were forced to stop invading our homes - filling our incoming Call Notes to capacity, eating our fax machine paper. Finally, the long overdue Do Not Call List was instigated to halt this intrusive phone line assault on our private domain - ta-da! - except it simply reconfigured as email spam. And what lies next on this phishing expedition's horizon, looming like a fearsome cyber land Godzilla?

The national cell phone directory!

For years, I enjoyed zero problems with email spam. Now, like a second job, I'm clearing my inbox, complete with pop-up ads, hourly. Why bother adding the sender to my "Blocked" list? The same messages reappear like roaches in a rent house, with mythical names reminiscent of seedy "entertainers" in a cheesy roadhouse lounge. "You've Got Mail" from Peaches Stein, Carmella Manhattan, Dee Dee Huang, Armando Horowitz, Bubba Rasputin.

Maybe I should lighten up. Why quibble with gratuitous "double your bra size without surgery" offers or promised blind dates with both sexes. Insurance for boats (I hate boats), refinance your mortgage (mine's paid), locate a lost love (I worked hard to lose them), get rich on eBay (there may yet be hope for your Beanie Babies), Biblical passages (I'm praying this stops). Hmmm.

We've installed a firewall so strong it disallows me to open attachments. It's like after all the unsolicited porn, my PC is wearing a chastity belt. Still, the hits keep on coming. To make matters worse, when I type my address in the "Take me off your list" link proffered on many spam emails, this in turn feeds newer data bases to exploit further. In other words, you can't win.

Today's blue light special from offshore-without-a-prescription drugs is half-price Viagra and Xanax! Call your friends

All this is maddening and disheartening, certainly. But it's nothing compared to what might follow in cellular hell if telemarketers are given access to our mobile phone numbers. Unless you're sleeping with some higher-up at Cingular, we're paying pricey pro-rated fees for every second of airtime, which could then have the potential to be gobbled up by routine cellular sales solicitation. That's robbery. As that ad says, "They're Your Minutes!" Picture your mobile voice mail inbox jammed with still more monthly fees, in my case, 40 cents per message!

Ding! You are now free to become hysterical.

Concerning the cellular directory, it's time to take a bite out of slime and make it illegal to use any phone numbers or email addresses for commercial harassment. Paying real money to receive computer generated calls and voice messages from siding salesmen or salacious synthesized call girls sounds loathsome enough. But this compounded insult could really hit below the money belt, being billed for tawdry text messages. Add to this unsavory mix receiving camera-phone screen imagery, perpetrating a "new age" format for prurient visual molestation.

Gee, where was all this fun when I was rocketing through puberty!


Rawlins Gillilland is a writer from Dallas.