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Mule email account: avoiding spam and a loss of privacy

Last Edit: 10/01/12

With no law stipulating the amount of email accounts an individual can own and operate, the proliferation of mule email accounts is widespread. So what exactly is a mule email account?

A mule email account is an account which is used for purposes not related to an individual's social/personal life, and will be registered with details not applicable to that individual. The purposes of a mule account are as follows,

1. To register for forums and other membership only sites. Leaving the individual's real account free of spam and not compromising the privacy of the individual (contact details, name etc).

2. To commit some form of cyber crime or dubious online practice.

Most commentators would agree that mule accounts - on the whole - are a harmless practice aimed at withholding personal details and providing anonymity. There is no governmental pressure which would force individuals to register genuine details on an email account.

Although there is no research to indicate how many mule accounts have been created, many experts in the field would suggest that a large proportion of webmail accounts are registered with the sole purpose of functioning as a mule account. In comparison, an e-mail account tied to an e-mail client - such as Outlook Express - is less likely to function as a mule.

The future of mule accounts will mostly likely depend upon the public opinion of Web anonymity. Whilst spam is currently viewed as a nuisance to most users - and email fraud is commonplace - the current solution appears to be to educate users against the perils of email rather than to introduce draconian measures against it.