Around late 1997, some e-mail spammers and people who sympathized with them started to develop a conspiracy theory, which was later brought to the attention of anti-spammers in Usenet. According to them, the anti-spam efforts were funded by several major lumber companies. The logic in that is that these companies first destroy the forests, and make paper out of them, which is then in turn used to send bulk mail. Since sending e-mail spam is less costly and doesn't use paper at all, the lumber companies obviously wanted to stop it before it would surpass paper-based bulk mailing, which, according to conspiracy theorists, was already considerably cutting into their profits. Spammers in general tended to say that one of the great things about spam was that it was more ecologically sound, and that they were doing their part to protect the environment.
Anti-spammers, of course, were quick to point out that this reasoning is far from the truth. There are many reasons why e-mail spam was, and continues to be, a threat to the Internet, and why people continue to fight spam either in their spare time or professionally. In addition, in recent decades only newsprint paper (which is used to print newspapers) is being made out of pulpwood (which is, also, very far from lumber), other fine papers (like the kind used to print glossy advertisements and brochures) are made out of cotton rags. It is thus unlikely that the any lumber or tree-harvesting industry would benefit from any change from junk mailing. Furthermore, lumber companies themselves have little to do with paper companies, and bulk mail constitutes only a small part of total paper use.
Anti-spammers started to ridicule the spammers for coming up with this conspiracy, and even formed a group of their own known as "The Lumber Cartel." Many anti-spammers proudly proclaimed in their e-mail and Usenet signatures, that they were members of The Lumber Cartel, a statement which was immediately followed by the acronym "TINLC" (There Is No Lumber Cartel), reminiscent of the "There Is No Cabal" catchphrase.
- ↑ Danny Goodman (2004). Spam Wars: Our Last Best Chance to Defeat Spammers, Scammers, and Hackers. SelectBooks. ISBN 1-59079-063-4.
- Usenet Archives
- "Possible Anti-Spam Conspiracy Uncovered" (alternate link) - article posted by "Vladimir" to news.admin.net-abuse.email in 1997-11-14
- Web site of "The Lumber Cartel"; Archived copy from 2001 available through The Internet Archive.
- The Jargon File: "Lumber Cartel"
- Lumber Cartel in Ursine's Jargon Wiki
- The Lumber Cartel SETI team
- Lumber Cartel