15 February 2008

Taking on the Spammers: Datapro/Vox Telecom - Part 1

For well over a year now I've been getting spammed by Datapro (a Vox Telecom subsidiary) with sundry Friendly Newsletters, Product Offers and Special Crap We're Sure Will Interest You.  Now we're in a fight argument complaint-resolution discussion.


Datapro is a fairly large supplier in SA of web and email hosting, ISP services, and all the myriad little bitty services around that.  They're also one of only 15 "Large" members of the Internet Service Providers' Association -- the industry's self-regulation watchdog in SA -- and hence a signatory to ISPA's Code of Conduct, which includes a clause saying, in effect, "members won't support spam or spamming."

I have never been one of Datapro's customers because I think their technical standards are... dodgy... to say the least.  But, I have had contact with some of their technical staff in the course making changes to email, web-hosting and DNS on behalf of some of my clients who do use Datapro as their service provider.  For whatever misguided reasons.  Evidently, some of Datapro's tech staff have had their email address-books "harvested" by The Marketroid Department.  Or Something.  How ever it happened, my email address got repurposed without my knowledge or prior consent.  A major point, here, is that I have never been in a business relationship with this company.

In the anti-spam world "repurposing" is considered a Very Bad Thing, and will result in instant and permanent blacklisting on some aggressively well-run mail servers.

I've lost count of the number of times I have emailed the sender asking, demanding, pleading or threatening legal action, in the interests of getting off their mailing lists.  Countless times I've clicked on the (rarely present) "unsubscribe" links and jumped through web-page hoops to get unsubscribed.  Nary a confirmation have I received.  Nor has any of this actually diminished the volume of crap I get from them.

To add insult to injury, Vox Telecom, the parent company, have in turn taken to spamming their subsidiary's lists.

A Lightbulb Moment

A short while ago, a contact on one of the local Internet-industry mailing lists I haunt, suggested that I lodge a complaint with ISPA.  I must confess that I had never seriously thought about it, but maybe worth a try...

I waited.  Made sure I gathered and archived the evidence.  Then, last Tuesday, I struck: lodged a complaint via the ISPA's webform:

Action The First: The Complaint
NameISP: Datapro/Vox Telecom
name: <redacted>
email: <redacted>
Address: <redacted>
Telephone: <redacted>
Cellphone: <redacted>
SectionCoC: E. Unsolicited bulk mail (spam)

I have never been a customer of Datapro.  My only interactions with them have been on behalf of my clients, in the course of managing clients' DNS, email, hosting, etc. technical requirements where those services have been provided (at the clients' choice) by Datapro.  As such my interactions have been with technical service personnel only.

During the course of such interactions Datapro staff have, without my consent or prior knowledge, added my email address to various mailing lists that they use to send marketing "newsletters" and advertisements (a.k.a. address repurposing.)

I have on numerous occasions requested that my details be removed from all mailing lists and databases under Datapro's control to no avail.  I have made such requests telphonically, by email, and by clicking through the (rare) unsubscribe links that some of this spam contains.

Finally I have records good enough to prove my point.  Their latest "February newletter", sent in duplicate today, 9 February 2008, is in clear violation of

1) my past instruction to them of 2 August 2007 (and subsequent, evidence-free removal-link-clicking)

2) the ECT Act itself, in failing to meet the information provision and opt-out requirements of the Act, and

3) the ISPA Code of ConductCopies of all relevant emails are available from myself.
Let's see what results...

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