CAN-SPAM already failing

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by Doctor Q, Feb 2, 2005.

  1. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

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    #1
    New York Times article (free viewing with registration while the story is new):
    It's not fair to blame ALL of the increase in spam on this bill. The increase would have happened anyway. But could anyone be surprised by the law's lack of positive effect? I think opt-out laws are useless, since you can't use opt-out links unless you trust the sender, and you can't trust spam senders.

    Opt-in laws would make more sense, but I don't have much hope that they can be enforced, especially since spam is a worldwide problem. And e-mail taxes are unlikely to get off the ground either.

    The best solution to spam that I see is the use of technology to verify senders and a personally-run opt-in system. I think that in the long term we will all be seeing personal e-mail only from those we specifically enable, and we'll have a way to check if the sender is the one claimed.
     
  2. Lacero macrumors 604

    Lacero

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    #2
    Looks like a payment system such as millicent needs to be implemented for a new mail protocol that eliminates spam.
     
  3. clayj macrumors 604

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    #3
    I agree completely. The main factor that allows spam to be as widespread as it is is that it's virtually free to send millions of e-mail messages. By comparison, the junk mail you receive in your postal mailbox costs the advertisers actual money. Even a minimal "postage" (say, 1¢ or even 0.1¢) for each sender/recipient combination would put the spammers out of business... no "postage" on the message, message automatically goes in the trash or, even better, doesn't even land in your mailbox. And the moneys generated by legitimate users could be used for some noble purpose, like providing Internet to students and libraries.

    Oh, yeah: Post #200 for me!
     
  4. themadchemist macrumors 68030

    themadchemist

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    #4
    I think this is a terrible idea. It would threaten to erode the egalitarian nature of the internet, which is what makes it so powerful as a force for social, political, and economic change.
     
  5. clayj macrumors 604

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    #5
    "Egalitarian nature"? You understand (I hope) that the Internet is not FREE... it's not air, it's not water; someone has to pay the bills. As one of the billpayers, I hate when people send me an endless stream of useless (and sometimes malicious) crap.

    Imposing a miniscule e-mail postage of, say, 0.1¢ per message would not be a burden to any "normal" (i.e., non-spammer) user... even if you sent 300 messages a month, your postage would only add up to 30¢. Postage of 1¢ per message would only cost you $3 on 300 messages. A spammer, however, who sends tens of millions of messages would find himself with a postage bill for $10,000, $100,000, or more. This would put most spammers out of business.
     
  6. Doctor Q thread starter Administrator

    Doctor Q

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    #6
    I've tried a personal opt-in system myself, by having Mail.app move all mail that is not from somebody in my address book into a separate folder and not relying on the Junk filter as my only line of defense. At first, most of my legitimate e-mail went to the "unrecognized sender" folder. But, as I added the senders that I favor to my address book, less and less legitimate e-mail fell into that category. Now only a few e-mails a week in "unrecognized" are legit, so I can usually just trash the whole folder.

    With the right software, this could be done by a mail server in the same way, so that e-mail from those I don't recognize doesn't get delivered to me at all. I could instead get a digest (summary) of date/from/to/subject of those that were from unrecognized senders, so I could decide whether to add any of them to my approved list.

    This works better for personal messages than for, say a business customer service address, to which "strangers" send messages all the time.

    Even a system as I've described is only half the battle, however. We also need a way to tell WHO sent a message and that's where competing groups are working on plans for the necessary infrastructure. With that in hand, technology, not laws, will be our solution, just as it was the cause.
     
  7. Timelessblur macrumors 65816

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    #7

    I still say that would start ticking me off to have to pay for every email I send and I would fight a law that forced me to pay. Spam wise I get very little and a spam filter catchs what little I get any how. that 3 bucks a month starts adding up fast. It would make it harder to figure out how to sort though it. Also it would prouble increase the spam. For the most part the few times I get spam I just put the sender on a block list and it never even makes it into my junkmail box much less my inbox but not using hotmail or yahoo for my main email accounts really cuts down on the spam. Plus not have a common email address cuts down on it a lot so I do get roped into those mass emailling that some people get mained with one name and then just putting numbers at the end of it.

    Plus their are plays like University and what not that send out thosands of emails a day. My school for example sends out 27-28K worth of email every day in a annocnment email. Every student gets one. Plus I normally get a another mass emailing from Engineering deparment about job infomation (all upper classmen general get them). stuff I really want to get.
     
  8. themadchemist macrumors 68030

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    #8
    Connecting costs money. From there, most of the content *is* free.

    I disagree with your suggestion on principle. The internet provides the only means of free communication of which I can think. Someone pays the bill for connection, but can you think of another communication service that is reasonably easy to access for free from some place or another (such as a library)? I think by charging for e-mail transactions, you lose one of e-mail's most valuable qualities.

    One logical progression to this sort of scheme is arriving at Bill Gates' solution...Individuals set the amount it costs to send them an e-mail. This would be very tragic--Again, being able to contact anyone, no matter how important, anywhere, no matter how far away, for free is a powerful, powerful ability.

    But even considering your suggestion itself...Are spammers the only people who send e-mails to thousands or millions of people? What about political campaigns? Grassroots organizations? News sources? These all employ opt-in mailing lists to disseminate information. If even opt-in mailing lists were subjected to this fee, the big dogs like Presidential campaigns could survive, but smaller organizations would suffer. MoveOn.org, or its conservative analog, could not afford to pay tens of thousands of dollars per e-mail it sends out...The rise of such organizations and increased social & political activism are closely tied to the fact that use of services online is largely free. With that gone, one can imagine the void that will be left.
     
  9. clayj macrumors 604

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    #9
    As Robert Heinlein said, There ain't no such thing as a free lunch. You may not have to pay for content, but that doesn't mean it's free... for starters, it costs the content's owner to create it, to host it, etc. That they give it away for free is nice, but it's hardly a requirement. And don't forget the cost of maintaining all that fiberoptic cable, the switches, the people who run it all, etc. Sure, the cost per user is quite low, but some people (spammers) are abusing the system to further their own ends. In the end, SOMEONE is paying for all of this.

    I'm not proposing that you should have to pay to RECEIVE your e-mail, but to SEND it. Again, it's not free; nothing is. But why should it be fair for you to pay X each month for broadband service and send Y messages, when a spammer pays the same amount (or worse, uses zombied machines in other peoples' homes) to send 1,000,000*Y messages?

    You assume that that important person is actually going to read your message. In Bill Gates' case, he would not. I think having to pay more based on who you're sending to is NOT a good idea, nor is it even necessary. If you have to pay extra, there better be a guarantee that the recipient actually reads and considers the message.

    Unwanted political e-mails are considered spam (at least, I consider them to be spam). Ditto all those other sources you mentioned. Spam is spam.
     
  10. Sun Baked macrumors G5

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    #10
    Millicent wouldn't really work, if they continue to use the viral spambots to send spam.

    All this would do is cost people money, first 10-30 e-mails per day free. Next 10,000 e-mails sent by the spambot on you PC that day -- costly. :eek:

    Plus the groups that have the networks of slaved computers that are currently running DNS extortion campaigns for cash, will switch over to sending spam to shift the cost off the spammers.
     
  11. Doctor Q thread starter Administrator

    Doctor Q

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    #11
    It's an ironic coincidence that I received an unsolicited junk fax (about cheap mortgages) while reading this thread. Such faxes take my paper and my toner as well as my time and my phone line, but the laws against them haven't eliminated them.
     
  12. themadchemist macrumors 68030

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    #12
    This is obvious...However, plenty of these users provide their content for free...Consider this site. To mandate per use costs is very different from the choice to charge for content.

    Actually, for the user, a yahoo account is free. You are muddling costs to the company with costs to the user. There are problems with paying to send messages, as well, that might discourage valid communication.

    You must assume that that important person won't.

    Did you even read what I wrote? Again I will repeat: These are opt-in services (and if I'm mistaken and they're not, let's talk about opt-in services). That means you *choose* to receive the e-mail. How is that spam? Under your scheme, even companies sending messages to people who have requested those messages would pay ludicrous amounts of money. This would inhibit the willing and wanted transfer of information.
     
  13. clayj macrumors 604

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    #13
    Fair enough. But my original point, that spammers spam because it's virtually free (beyond the cost of their Internet connection), is still valid. Make it so spamming ISN'T free, and they will slow down or even stop, depending on how much it costs them to continue.

    For the user, yes. But Yahoo! does have to pay for the server space, for their Internet connection, etc. They provide a "free" service to you not out of altruism, but because they think it will let them make some money off you somehow (ads, purchases, etc.). And how does postage (stamps) discourage valid communication between letter writers? Answer: It doesn't, but it DOES eliminate a lot of stupid letters that people might send if it were free to do so.

    Well, I'm a realist. Bill Gates gets 4 million e-mail messages a day. I don't think he'll personally read a message that either you or I send him. To him, anything we send him is basically spam.

    Sorry, I didn't quite grasp your point. Yes, I see that you believe that e-mail between consenting parties should be sendable free of charge. But why should this not also be the case with postal letters? Because it costs money to move letters around. But it also costs money to move BITS around... hence my point.

    Hey, if you can come up with a non-postage way to eliminate spammers AND let me get my e-mail without having to weed through a bunch of spam messages (occasionally, I do get valid mail from complete strangers, so a pure "white list" solution doesn't work for me... something like Mailblocks.com is better, but still not perfect), let me know... I'd be interested in hearing about it. :)
     
  14. Lacero macrumors 604

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    #14
    You need to eliminate the profit motive from spammers. You could easily pay 1 cent per message that you send out, and if the recipient accepts and acknowledges your message (even without a reply), the 1 cent charge is waived. Essentially as long as you don't spam, you don't get charged.

    If spam still continues and spammers are willing to add 1 cent to the cost of sending out unsolicited emails, you can up the charge to 10 cents, 20 cents, etc, until the profit motive is eliminated.

    This is the only way I see an end to the spam problem. Using spam blockers and email filters don't solve the problem of bandwidth congestion and network clog.
     
  15. Timelessblur macrumors 65816

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    #15
    You system is still heavily flawed. Problem is charging money on the spammers will hurt the none spammers a lot more than the spammers also I dont think I want to angolegle 3-10 emails I get a day much less when I getted a flood of emails (some times there is a lot of emailing trading go back and forth and forwarding emails that are for valid stuff) Now think of people who just do bunissenes they get 100+ emails per day that are not spam do you really think they want to do all that.


    Problem is you not really removing that much proffect margen from them not enough to phase them. Right now spam filters is the best we have also the ISP are starting to step up and block email from known spammers.

    And yes spam is a problem but I also dont put up with it. I have a junk email account I let collect the spam. My main account gets very little spam and more offen than not my spam filter is catching legit emails that I just have to say it ok from that person
     
  16. mactastic macrumors 68040

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  17. wdlove macrumors P6

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    #17
    Those like Doctor Q have a real chance against Spam, that is were knowledge of programing can be very beneficial. With any law there is usually loop holes. Those with bright minds will find new and legal ways to use it to their advantage.
     
  18. Timelessblur macrumors 65816

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    #18
    I like the the programs out their that are learning programs where they learn what is spam and what is not spam. Best part they learn by user input. They see what you declear as spam and what you say is not spam. Over time it becames a very good program and filtering them out.

    What makes it nice is the does not have the standard weak points that the standard ones have, some words in an email will get by the filter every single time all filters have them just the main diffences is the weakness words are diffent for every person who uses them so iit not like those words can be added because they be cought by the filter.

    (for me nortain handles the spam protection and it does a pretty good job at it)
     
  19. clayj macrumors 604

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    #19
    A huge problem for anti-spam filters is when the spammer spoofs your e-mail address, so the spam looks like it's coming FROM YOU. I want to be able to CC and BCC myself on messages that I send to people, so I leave my address as totally unblocked... the problem is that this lets spam in that's "from me". There should be a way, on the server end, to distinguish between e-mail that I originate and e-mail that someone else originates that has my address on the From line.
     
  20. Timelessblur macrumors 65816

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    #20
    that what the law made illige by requiring them to show where they are coming from and not spoofing them. Mind you it is really easy to do and I have email go out of one accout but the account is says it comes from is another one accounts. general it depends on which email address it came from and what I need it for. For more profection looking emails I use my school email's address sent though a sbcglobal account.
     
  21. angelneo macrumors 68000

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    #21
    It is really simple to spoof another person email (I am guilty of playing a few friendly pranks using this) and what most major email servers do is that they do not rely on the incoming email address but checked the originating server of the email. hence, when a spammer tried to spoof an email address and if the server they tried to send from is in some sort of blacklist, those emails still get blocked. However, this is when controlling zombie computers comes in and the problem of the failing internet security.
     
  22. themadchemist macrumors 68030

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    #22
    Postage stamps encourage people to send fewer letters, which isn't always a good thing. Especially in rapid communication like e-mail, being able to have a back-and-forth conversation is important. This measure would discourage it.

    Moreover, Yahoo! chooses to make its e-mail free! That's the point. It has calculated the costs and determined that its business model works when e-mail is free. You're suggesting forcing them to rework their business model and charge for e-mail transactions.

    What about the head of Neurology at Johns Hopkins? What about the Dean of the Kennedy School of Government?

    You are suggesting mandating a cost (even when the mover of bits chooses not to charge for such movement) not for the reason that the bits need to be moved, but so that spammers can be stopped. Therefore, reasoning about bits being moved does not follow logically with your argument.

    I don't have a solution...My point here is to argue that no solution, in my eyes, is better than the solution you propose. I mean no offense to you, just your idea. ;) In all seriousness, you raise a valid point and a reasonable solution, but one that I think has a few too many flaws.
     
  23. clayj macrumors 604

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    #23
    Just one point I wanted to make concerning who bears the cost of e-mail... using the example of a free Yahoo! e-mail account, one might think that they bear the complete cost of any e-mail sent or received using their system. HOWEVER, this is not so; they may provide the front-end for sending and reading mail, but the mail that's sent actually passes through many systems that Yahoo! do not own:

    - The Internet service provider (AT&T, Qwest, SBC, BellSouth, etc.)
    - The companies that run the Internet backbones
    - In the case of sent mail, the receiver's ISP (TimeWarner, Comcast, etc.)
    - The receiver themselves (time spent eliminating spam, etc.)

    I recently read that something like 66% of traffic on the Internet inside the US is spam. The cost for all of this (the equipment, the new fibers, etc.) is borne by a lot of people, who I'm sure would prefer that their systems be used more productively.
     
  24. themadchemist macrumors 68030

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    #24
    But don't you think it makes more sense to let individual companies decide this? Gosh, I sound like a conservative, but in this case, less regulation seems to make more sense.
     
  25. commonpeople macrumors regular

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    #25
    The millicent proposal sounds like a great idea to me! Even better having the tax go towards the upkeep of the internet- or to some charitable cause.

    If anyone has a particular moral objection, then they should be free not to opt into the millicent system and they will not have to charge anyone to send them an email (though of course they will consequently receive more junk mail). However, if I wish to charge people a tiny fee for the privilege of them being assured that my computer will accept their email, then that is also my right.

    The only problem I foresee is if the tax became a significant size such that it would prohibit a group of people from communication with the rest of the internet. For instance, maybe the price would be so high that it would exclude people from some third world countries with communicating with first-worlders.

    Failing that- oh let's just put a monetary value on the heads of the spammers! The world would be better off without them.
     

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