237 Millionaires in Congress, Why Not You?

Did you know that of the 435 Congresspeople sitting in the House today, more than half of them are millionaires? That’s not really representative of the general population at all, or you’d probably be a millionaire, too. Well… I am a millionaire, and I didn’t get the money by sitting in Congress. I got it from hard work on line… Internet marketing.

Now, I have my own products, but when I first started, I sold other people’s products. I was an affiliate marketer, and if you’re smart, that’s how you’ll start out with your online business, too. I managed to make more than $800,000 in my first year of affiliate marketing, so it’s a very lucrative way to get started. Plus, the product creator does all of the fulfillment and handles the customer service, so it’s a much easier way to start.

If you haven’t begun lead generation efforts, that’s the first step. You need to set up a way to collect people’s names and email addresses, if you don’t already have a list, because that is what will fuel your sales. You need to generate leads, people who you can bond with and who will come to know, like, and trust you — people who will accept the product recommendations you make.

Then, you need to ask those people what they want. Run a survey. Immediately after people opt in to your list, send them to a survey that asks, “What is your biggest question about [your niche].” So, it would be like, “What is your biggest question about gardening?” or “What is your biggest question about dogs training?” or whatever your niche is. Ask people what they need to know.

The next step is to go over to ClickBank and find products that people are looking for. Just go into the Marketplace over there and see what products will solve the issues people told you that they’re having in your niche. Make the product fit what your customers want. If your niche is a little obscure, you can try other places, too, such as Commission Junction.

It’s really important that you know these are quality products, too, because you don’t want to offer products that are no good. When you do that, you lose all the credibility you have built with your list. So, buy the product and try it first.

And that’s pretty much it. Build a list, ask the people on it what they want, and sell it to them. Simple! If you can do that, as your list continues to grow, and you continue to work at your business, you can be a millionaire, too.

But it takes hard work, and being a millionaire isn’t really typical of the average Internet marketer. Most of them are lazy and never make a dime. But there are two sides to the coin. Be sure that you’re on the winning side!

SaaS Webmasters – What To Do When Law Enforcement Demands Archived Email?

If you’re a SaaS webmaster, it’s not a question of if, but when, a law enforcement official wants a copy of one of your user’s email archived on your SaaS website. You’re caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place. Critical questions arise: What are your legal obligations, and what are your rights? How do you protect yourself from liability?

Background

Email archived electronically on websites is typically viewed as a potential treasure trove by law enforcement officials looking for evidence.

The pace of requests by law enforcement officials for personal information stored on web servers is best illustrated by the actual experience of Google and Facebook. Google established an online tool showing the frequency of these requests by various countries. It’s been reported that for the first half of 2010, Google had received in excess of 4,000 requests from the United States alone. Newsweek reported that Facebook in 2009 had customer information requests averaging at least 10 per day.

The Electronic Communications Privacy Act

In 1986, Congress passed the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) to provide privacy rights for electronic transmissions by telephones, computers, cell phones, and other means of electronic communications.

ECPA made a critical distinction regarding how long electronic communications such as emails are stored. If the emails are stored for less than 180 days, law enforcement must first obtain a search warrant approved by a judge or magistrate prior to gaining access. However, if the emails are stored for more than 180 days, law enforcement is not required to first obtain a search warrant; a simple subpoena from a prosecutor will suffice. Search warrants require a showing of probable cause under the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures; subpoenas do not.

So, ECPA provides more protection for emails stored for less than 180 days, than for emails stored for more than 180 days. While this distinction may have made sense in 1986 prior to commercial use of the Internet, it makes no real sense in today’s cloud computing environment where electronic storage and archival is relatively inexpensive.

Privacy advocates have long argued that emails deserve the same protection as regular communications such as phone calls and letters.

6th Circuit Weighs In On Search Warrant vs. Subpoena

In December, 2010, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Fourth Amendment protects an individual’s e-mail communications that are stored on a third party’s server against unreasonable search and seizure. The effect of the ruling is that the 180 day distinction made in ECPA no longer holds – emails are protected regardless of the amount of time they are stored or archived.

The court reasoned that phone calls and letters are protected by the Fourth Amendment, and because email is also a communications medium, it would “defy common sense to afford e-mails lesser Fourth Amendment Protection”.

Conclusion

At this time, it’s unknown whether the 6th circuit ruling will be appealed, and if so, what the outcome will be. Nevertheless, until we know the answers to these questions, to protect yourself from liability email production should be made only in response to a search warrant and advice of counsel.

Also, we don’t yet know if the decision will extend beyond emails stored in web servers by Internet service providers and SaaS websites to other areas such as law enforcement demands to turn over employee emails and the level of protection for personal information stored in a web server that is not email.

What about notice to users whose emails are subject to search and seizure? At present there are no laws to guide us. It’s a good idea, however, for SaaS privacy policies to provide for notice to users prior to turning over emails to law enforcement authorities.

As we move inexorably to fully embracing the cloud computing model, what’s needed is for Congress to reform and update ECPA to conform to the 6th Circuit ruling and to provide the additional guidance needed.

Avoiding Spam Email – Defending Your Inbox

Isn’t it amazing how many people are concerned about you on the Internet?

You create a new email address and in no time at all, perfect strangers are suddenly very concerned about you having the best credit card, the best home loan, and especially the best “bedroom performance” possible. All of these “kind” people are sending you email every day in order to be sure you are up to date with the latest in electronics, the prettiest of Russian mail-order brides, and the most “exciting” websites you could ever want to visit.

We have all been a victim of it. This thing called “email spam.” Unsolicited emails that clog your inbasket and make it very hard for you to find the emails that you actually care about. Congress has finally made some attempt to control spam, but there are still far too many loopholes for the unscrupulous to dive through in order to assault your inbox with junk email.

There are various tools you can use to try to cut down on the amount of spam that reaches you. If your email software allows for it, you can use a spam filter as well as a black list or white list. Unfortunately, each of these tools has their own drawbacks.

One of the best ways to deal with spam email is to avoid the online behaviors that cause your email address to be picked up by spammers and added to their lists. What follows is a set of rules to help reduce the chances that your inbox will fall prey to a spammer’s unwanted attentions:

Rule #1: Never allow your email address to be displayed on a website. This means that if you are active in online forums, or if you maintain your own website, or are involved in any other online activity where you might possibly post your email address, it is best to use a modified email address that a human would understand but a computer program might not. For example, instead of posting “[email protected]”, you could post “[email protected]”. A human reader will know to remove the letters “DeleteThis” but a computer program designed to harvest email addresses from web pages would find it much more difficult. However, be warned that spammers are using other tricks these days that make even this technique not as safe as it used to be.

Rule #2: When you receive spam email, NEVER click on the line that says something like “click here to be removed from our list.” In some emails, clicking such a line will in fact remove you from their list. Unfortunately, in other emails clicking on that link tells the spammer that your email address is “valid” (because someone clicked on the link). The spammer may or may not take your name off of their list, but what they WILL do is turn around and sell your email address to other spammers. Because they now have verification that the email address is a good one (because you clicked on the link), your email address brings them more money when they sell it.

Rule #3: Set up a “junk email” account and use it when you make one-time purchases or any other time a website that you must use requires an email address. Most internet service providers give you the option of creating multiple email addresses. If yours does not, you can always create a “throw away” email address on Gmail, Yahoo, or any of a number of other free email services. Once you have this account set up, always use this email address when you need to supply an email address to a company or website that you do not expect to visit more than once. This goes doubly true for taking advantage of “free offers” online that first require you to enter your email address. Many of these “free” online offers are getting paid through the selling of your email address!

Rule #4: Avoid becoming part of those large chains of emails that get forwarded to tons of people. You know the kind. Someone gets a funny story, a spiritual thought, or some other interesting bit of news and then forwards it to everyone in their address book. The problem is that every time someone forwards such an email, all of the email addresses belonging to the other people “in the chain” also get transmitted with the message (unless the sender is savvy enough to remove them…which most people are not). All it then takes is for a spammer to get a hold of any ONE of these messages (which is now serving as a traveling email address collector) and suddenly you are on a spammer’s list again. If you ever have an email that you wish to send to lots of people in your address book, do them all a favor and do not expose their email address to the spammers as well. Address the email TO YOURSELF, and then include all of the desired recipients on the “bcc” line (the “blind carbon copy” line). Doing so will allow you to send a “mass email” without exposing anyone else’s email address (because “bcc” email addresses are not included as part of the message, which is not the case if you “cc” the recipients or put them on the “to” line).

Rule #5: Never give your email address to anyone who does not need it. I cannot count the number of times this has happened to me. You are in a “brick and mortar” store and a clerk casually asks for your email address as if it is required to complete the transaction. If it is a store I know and trust and I actually want to receive emails from them, I might give them my email address. More often, however, I tell them “you do not need that information to complete the transaction.” This rule leads to a very good rule to follow in all of your life’s dealings: NEVER GIVE PERSONAL INFORMATION OUT TO PEOPLE WHO DO NOT NEED IT!

These are just a few behaviors that can help you avoid getting your email address on a spammer’s list. The most important thing to remember is that your email address represents money to unscrupulous email spammers. Armed with this information, you will be able to go quite a long while before having to change your email address due to a clogged inbox.

Anti-Phishing Bill Introduced To Congress

Sen. Partick J. Leahy has introduced the Anti-Phishing Act
of 2005 to Congress for consideration. The Act would allow
federal prosecutors to seek fines of up to $250,000 and
prison sentences of up to five years against individuals
convicted for promoting phishing scams. Online parody and
political speech sites would be excluded from prosecution.

“Phishing” is an online scam used to deceive computer users
into giving up personal information such as social security
numbers and passwords. Phishing scams usually involve email
messages requesting the verification of personal information
from a familiar business. Readers are provided a link that
sends them to what appears to be the site of the company in
question. The reader is then asked to verify their account
information by providing their name, address, social
security number, account number, etc.

In truth, the site is an illegal copy of the business in
question and the reader’s information is collected for later
fraudulent use including identity theft. Consumers are
estimated to lose hundreds of millions of dollars a year to
phishing scams. Undoubtedly, you have received more than a
few of these emails.

Phishing emails are most likely to use the sites of banks,
credit card companies, and large retailers. Online companies
such as Ebay, PayPal and Earthlink have had similar
problems. One particularly aggressive group even scammed the
site of the IRS.

In April 2004, the IRS warned consumers that scam artists
were sending emails purportedly from the IRS. Consumers
received emails claiming they were under investigation for
tax fraud and subject to prosecution. The emails contained
language telling recipients they could “help” the
investigation by providing “real” information and directed
them to a website that was derivative of the IRS site.
Consumers were then asked to provide detailed personal
information to dispute the charge. Since most people fear
the IRS, one can assume that a large number of people took
the phishing bait.

Commentary

The Anti-Phishing Act of 2005 is a nice start to combating
scam artists that use phishing to pilfer money from
consumers. The Act, however, will not put an end to
deceptive phishing practices if it is passed. There reason
involves jurisdictional issues.

A large percentage of the individuals promoting phishing
scams reside outside of the United States. While they may
take notice of the law, it will have no discernible effect
on their fraudulent scams. Until there is an international
response, phishing scams will continue to be a problem.
Nonetheless, Senator Leahy should be commended for
initiating efforts to deal with this growing problem.