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The European Commission has called on governments, regulators, ISPs and business to step up the fight against spam, spyware and malicious software.
Despite existing EU legislation to outlaw spam, Europe continues to "suffer from illegal online activities from inside the EU and from third countries", the Commission said in an announcement on Tuesday. It wants national authorities to step up their actions to prosecute illegal online activities.
"It is time to turn the repeated political concern about spam into concrete actions to fight spam," said Viviane Reding, Commissioner for Information Society and Media.
European Comission Calls For Concerted Fight Against Spam [news.zdnet.co.uk]
If more countries would do the same, we could reduce the amount of spam considerably within just a short period of time.
"In line with EU legislation outlawing spam, the Dutch authorities have managed to cut domestic spam by 85 percent — I'd like to see other countries achieving similar results through more efficient enforcement. I will revisit this issue again next year to see whether additional legislative measures against spam are required," Reding added.
[edited by: FrankWeb at 7:21 pm (utc) on Nov. 28, 2006]
Some say it is a fight we will never win. Proud to say here in The Netherlands, a dedicated team went after the big spammers and made good results.
Government may not be able to end spam, but a more concerted and coordinated effort between countries could go a long ways towards reducing it to a tolerable level.
I sometimes think that those who argue the strongest that this is a fight we will not win are those who stand the most to gain by us not being able to stem the tide of spam.
I agree. It is hard to believe that in this hi-tech world we cannot come up with a solution to this. Even if it is just something like charging 2p for each email ... a price I would be more than willing to pay!
Added: Lets pay 2p into a charity kitty for every email we send.
[edited by: BeeDeeDubbleU at 9:15 pm (utc) on Nov. 28, 2006]
Firstly, if you are on a low wage in Moldova or the Russian Federation 2p will be equivalent to 50p in real terms (giving rise to exclusion problems if implemented).
Secondly, you may argue that any email that isn't 'worth' 2p shouldn't be sent; the problem with that is there are many legitimate uses for bulk email that just could not run if a transaction cost were in force.
Thirdly, the difficulty in transferring to a toll system would be huge - think of all the email clients and forms that trigger email, you'd have to find a way of identifying who to charge which would inevitably cost the ISP's a fortune in admin - which we would all pay more for (and the spammers would find a way to put their emails on someone elses bill anyway)
Spam must be tackled with strict penalties, but it will always exist. A crude analogy is that many crimes have harsh sentences but it does not stop some people commiting said crimes. The risk/reward ratio needs to be cranked up quite a few notches before you will convince some spammers that it's not worth it.
We will probably end up with a new and seperate system of mail, where the sender's address cannot be spoofed and gradually abandon the current mess.
I wonder what I'd do with those extra two hours a day that this would free up.
Once I see a pattern, I set a filter --- viola', all the matching spam goes in the junk folder.
I would think the larger ISP's could set filters -- even if they were extremely strict, (say 3 "offenses" with matching patterns and the message is canned).
- To: field containing "unlisted recipients"
- From: field containing unqualified email address
- [Header] "Recieved From" contains improperly formed sender/server address
- Body contains links in where anchor text is a URL, but the underlying HREF is not the same URL or is numeric
- Messages with the word "Viagra", "V I A G R A", "Ciallis", etc.., (although lately it seems stocks "tips" are the major offender).
Message which spoof well known targets, (eBay, PayPal, Chase Bank, etc) should be easy to spot. These companies could use some type of digital signature which could be validated and imposters tested against it.
If I can catch this stuff in a filter with the relatievly small number of messages that come my way, (I pick up email for about 20 addresses), I would think any system tossing mail for hundreds or thousands of addresses should be able to electronicaly detect these types of patterns more easily since they have larger amounts of data to sample.
How about a "commericial email license"? Anyone sending more than (X) messages in (X) hours would need to have a certificate of some sort that is encrypted and has a central registry.
And yes, I think commercial mailers should be charged for bulk mail --- the money can go to a to pay restitution to people who are swindled by email or to pay the operating costs of an email registry.
I don't know the answer, but "it's impossible" does not sound like the right answer.
concrete actions to fight spam
It may be technically difficult to trace the origin of the spam messages, specially if they're sent through some zombie network. But surely it cannot be that difficult to find out who benefits? Just follow the money.
Our government in France has made unsolicited emails between businesses legal ..so my spam traps picks up at least 10 per hour from French companies that want to sell me CD's full of other companies email account addys so I can spam them ..
As not one of my companies is french this should mean that they can't spam me ..but no ..I phoned their french ISP and told them that I'm not a french business and these people are just carpet bombing anyone with french language web pages ..
The reply .."if B2B spam ( here it's called "prospecting" ) is permitted under french law then it means french businesses can send emails to any business world wide ..and we consider that if you have a domain ..you are a business .." ..
the regulatory authorities agreed with that interpretation of the law ..and our ISP's also state in their small print that you agree when signing up to use their services to connect to the internet that any email addreses allocated to you may and will be communicated to their commercial partners ..in other words they sell your email addys onwards to third parties who then spam you ..and then they sell the addy's onward and so on ..
Which is why all of us in this country get 99% of our spam in english ( which most of us cant read ) pushing products from north America ..
The way to stop spam is to penalise the companies who pay for their products to be spammed at you ..and for countries to stop passing laws which authorise spam ..
and most of all for ISP's to stop selling their lists
I think the only solution we are likely to see anytime soon is to "White List". Governments can't solve this problem, they can't even solve unsolicited phone calls effectively.
We all need to generate lists of known people who we are willing to communicate with, and all phones need to offer that service as well! (I know some already do).
Once everything but the "White List" is blocked spammers will disappear as it will become a pointless activity.
But then perhaps if white listing became compulsory ...?