Spam: the fightback begins?

Spam: the fightback begins?

1. NYT piece.

“The leading providers of e-mail accounts said yesterday that they had started to work together to develop ways to reduce the unwanted commercial messages, commonly known as spam, that are increasingly clogging their customers’ mailboxes.

The companies — America Online, Microsoft and Yahoo — are calling for technical changes in the way e-mail is passed around cyberspace to make it easier to determine who really sent it and what it is about.

Each company has developed its own technologies to identify and discard spam, and they boast of these in their advertising. But even though these systems sidetrack several billion pieces a day, they miss so much more that spam has become a leading source of complaints from users. Many studies show that the quantities of spam have at least doubled in the last year so the companies have agreed to cooperate with rivals.”

2. Meanwhile Scott Rosenberg reports that “America Online says the amount of spam aimed at its 35 million customers has doubled since the beginning of this year and now approaches two billion messages a day, more than 70 percent of the total its users receive.”

Anti-spam tools emerge, the spammers figure out a way around them, better tools come along, the spammers adapt — it’s a perfect example of what my friend and colleague, Andrew Leonard, described as “the technodialectic” in his fine book, “Bots.”

3. Larry Lessig has entered the fray too. A few months ago, he made an unusual wager: If Congress enacts an antispam law that offers bounties for the reporting of spammers, and the law fails to “substantially reduce the level of spam,” he will resign from his job at Stanford law school.

4. I’ve just found an interesting (if depressing) essay arguing that Span has just celebrated its 25th anniversary.

5. The US Federal Trade Commission has been running a three-day symposium on the spam problem.