Most of us get spam, exasperate, delete it, and move on. Not Jay Damon.
The Indiana man plans to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission on Monday against the University of Florida for alleged email misconduct after receiving hundreds of spam recruiting emails.
“It’s just a bit much,” said Damon, a 64-year-old retired information technology professional.
He received the spam after his personal email was mistakenly added to the UF Engineering recruiting server, known as ENGINE.
“They started filling my inbox. I had no idea where they were coming from,” he said. “I was screwed.”
ENGINE was developed in 2015 by UF Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering as a name exchange system to maximize diversity in the recruitment of graduate students. Since then, 75 of the other 198 universities have joined the server, and each can add their own contacts to mailing lists.
Damon was accidentally added by a student at the University of Maryland in Baltimore County. He said he suspected it was a typo.
The UF list is authenticated online by asking interested students to enroll through their GatorLink profiles, according to the ENGINE site.
“Each school is responsible for its own. We cannot monitor them,” said Steve Orlando, spokesperson for the university.
He said that because each school maintains their own contact lists – even though they are then shared with the entire server – the responsibility of verifying Damon’s email fell to UMBC.
Damon disagrees. Similar to online shopping businesses that send a “have you signed up for this?” Backup copy. Messages, he suggests that UF, as the leader of ENGINE, should implement a server-wide authentication program as a form of appropriate e-mail label.
He also suggested that the university specify in each email how recipients can stop potential spam. None of the six advertising emails UF sent him, which he shared with The Sun, contained an unsubscribe button or step.
After repeatedly sending emails to the director of ENGINE, the office of UF President Kent Fuchs and a representative of the university’s ethics office, Damon’s personal email address was removed from UF’s contact list. But the retiree said he still had to carefully unsubscribe from the roughly 60 other universities that had also contacted him.
“It’s something that is completely preventable,” Damon said. “To inconvenience a few just because you are doing something good for others is not acceptable.”
A federal law called CAN-SPAM law describes commercial email regulations, one of which is the inclusion of an obvious unsubscribe option, and accompanying fines for violations of up to $ 43,280 per message. But it is not clear whether the legislation applies here.
According to Orlando, Damon’s is the only complaint against ENGINE in its five-year use. In response, UF reminded the other 75 participating schools to confirm that their contact emails are correct.
“Everything I have heard indicates that this was an honest mistake,” he said. “We took the steps we could to address it, and we don’t expect it to happen again.”