QuickLinks - Junk mail (spam)
Issue no. 284 - 21 September 2003
- AU - Anti-spam legislation tabled in Australian parliament
New anti-spam legislation was introduced in the Australian parliament that allows for penalties of up to AU$1.1 million per day for sending spam. The Spam Bill 2003 will apply to spam that originates in Australia and contains a flexible sanctions regime that includes warnings, infringement notices and court-awarded penalties. The Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Richard Alston, said the legislation was part of a "multi-layered" approach and was meant to complement the use of e-mail filtering software. He called on the United States to follow suit with similar legislation. The legislation has won the endorsement of the Internet Industry Association, and chief executive Peter Coroneos said the Spam Bill incorporated most major elements the industry has pushed for and reflected best practice standards the Association had defined for its own members.
- UK bans spam messages
The UK has made spam a criminal offence to try to stop the flood of unsolicited messages. Under the new law, spammers could be fined £5,000 in a magistrates court or an unlimited penalty from a jury. But they would not be sent to jail, according to the new measures introduced by Communications Minister Stephen Timms.
- Buyer's Guide: Anti-spam
In addition to reviewing anti-spam tools, we also provide a series of tools to help you combat the problem, including a database of detailed specs for more than 50 anti-spam tools and services and a lesson plan from one IT pro on the tricks spammers use to evade filters - and how to combat them. see also Test: Spam in the wild. We tested 16 products on a live production network to see who could back those claims. For the entire month of June, we threw a live mail stream, spam and all, at the products to see who could survive the spam onslaught, and who would choke. Estimates of the amount of unwanted e-mail range from 40% to 75%, but we can give you an exact percentage - 69%.
Issue no. 282 - 7 September 2003
- IT - Spammers face jail
Senders of unsolicited junk e-mails in Italy will now face jail sentences of up to three years. Italy's privacy watchdog issued the ruling in an attempt to limit the huge amount of advertising and promotional material sent online. Sending e-mails without the permission of the receiver is against the law in Italy. Offenders now risk fines of up to 90,000 euros and between six months and three years in prison, if they are proved to have had the intention of making a profit.
Issue no. 281 - 31 August 2003
- DE - Heise stellt Strafanzeige gegen Spammer
Der Heise Zeitschriften Verlag hat beim Landeskriminalamt Hannover Strafanzeige gegen einen Versender von Spam-Mails gestellt, der massenhaft unerwünschte E-Mail-Werbung mit der gefälschten Absenderangabe heise.de verschickt hatte. Er warb darin für einen nach Schneeballprinzip organisierten Vertrieb von Prospekten über 'erfolgreiches Internet-Marketing' und versprach ein Einkommen von 'mehr als 250.000 Euro in den ersten sechs Monaten'.
- KR - Spam mail declines for first time in 3 years
The number of spam messages in Korea dropped for the first time in three years, thanks to the government's stepped-up efforts to stem unsolicited commercial e-mail. Online marketers must ensure that their e-mail advertisements are identified and set up a free hotline for recipients who wish to block them. A non-profit organization dubbed "National Movement for Clean Internet" has started distributing CD-ROMs containing software that would block spam e-mail and automatically filter Web pages with pornographic content.
- UK - Text service fights mobile spam
Vodafone is looking at new ways to help its customers cut out annoying mobile spam. It has launched a trial service called VSpam which it hopes will make it easier for people in the UK to report unsolicited text messages. When a Vodafone customer receives any text spam, they simply forward it for free to a short code number or by typing VSpam into their phones. An automated report is then created and kept as a record by both Vodafone and Independent Committee for the Supervision of Standards of Telephone Information Services (ICSTIS), the premium rate services watchdog. The trial has been welcomed by ICSTIS, who have been working with mobile operators to find ways of stopping spammers who advertise services on premium rate numbers.
- US - AOL Sued For Over-Zealous Blocking
America Online has been sued by CI Host, a Texas-based hosting company which says the Internet provider has unfairly labeled the company as a spammer. The suit alleges that AOL has blocked CI Host customers' IP addresses CI Host has been awarded a temporary restraining order, though AOL has apparently not complied.
- US - Transcripts of FTC Spam Forum posted
The Federal Trade Commission hosted a public forum in Washington, DC on April 30 - May 2, 2003 to explore the issues regarding the proliferation of and potential solutions to unsolicited commercial email ('UCE' or 'spam'). The forum also looked at how the unique qualities of spam contribute to and hinder both fraud and its prosecution. Transcripts are now online.
Issue no. 280 - 24 August 2003
- NZ - Spammer ducks for cover as details published on web
(New Zealand Herald)
A New Zealander who sent millions of junk emails out every day has shut his business after his personal details were posted on the web. Shane Atkinson - whose business is known as spamming - said the barrage of abuse made him worry about the safety of his children. His identity as the man behind millions of spam messages promoting penis enlargement pills was revealed in a Herald article.
- US - FTC chair: Antispam proposals lacking
Antispam proposals in Congress are not strict enough and would do more harm than good, the chairman of the Federal Trade Commission said. In a strongly worded criticism of current legislation, Tim Muris characterized the dozen or so bills as well intentioned, but he warned they 'will do little to solve the current spam problems' and could be even 'less useful' than existing laws the FTC has been using to sue spammers.
- US - Marketers Say They Intend to Join Effort to Fight Spam
(New York Times)
The Direct Marketing Association, which represents about 4,700 companies that engage in marketing directly to consumers, has quietly begun working with federal law enforcement officials, regulators and Internet service providers to develop a high-technology group dedicated to helping shut down the most egregious users of bulk e-mail.
Issue no. 279 - 17 August 2003
- MY - MCMC to find ways to regulate spam
The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) released a Discussion Paper on Regulating Unsolicited Commercial Messages following a recent study it had conducted on spam. The Discussion Paper contains findings of the study where among others; it established the need to define what spam is; features and problems posed by spam; the ability to identify possible offenders; as well as the adequacy of current legislation in addressing problems posed by spam.
- Spam wars: How unwanted e-mail is burying the Internet
It's hard to find a topic that raises the hackles of Internet users more than spam, the ubiquitous, pesky e-mails that pitch everything from home mortgages to creams that are supposed to do unmentionable things to your unmentionable parts. An industry that didn't even exist a dozen years ago now floods cyberspace with trillions of unwelcome messages a year and sparks dire predictions about its impact on the future of the Web. But what's the truth? Find out for yourself in MSNBC.com's five-part series.
- UK - Legislation alone futile against global spammers
The UK Parliament's All Party Internet Group's first Spam Summit brought together the worlds of high-tech industry, the media and politics in an attempt to launch a three-pronged attack and will run in parallel to the drafting of legislation aimed at combating the problem of spam. However, Stephen Timms, minister for ecommerce, who delivered the keynote speech, admitted from the outset that the problem is not going to be solved by changes in legislation. The consensus among speakers was that it will be a combination of factors which helps to defeat the menace of spam e-mail. see transcript of proceedings. see also Spam Summit: Is it too late to save the kids? (Silicon.com). One of the key objectives of the Spam Summit was to address the problem of children receiving inappropriate emails which may expose them to images of hardcore and extremely offensive pornography. John Carr, internet consultant for children's charity NCH, addressed the summit and recounted a particularly distressing tale of a 12-year-old girl being exposed to an explicit image of child rape. Carr spoke about his fears for children's safety as the internet becomes increasingly mobile, with the onset of next generation handsets, saying "children's mobile phones are their most prized possessions". The APIG is continuing an inquiry with evidence from experts.
Issue no. 278 - 10 August 2003
- UK - Microsoft says sorry to 'spammer'
Microsoft has apologised to a British man it had accused of sending out huge amounts of junk email, or 'spam'. The software giant issued an 'unreserved apology' to Simon Grainger from Merseyside, whom it had served with a writ, accusing him of stealing e-mail addresses of its customers to send them spam."
- Who profits from spam? Surprise
by Bob Sullivan. There wouldn't be spam if there wasn't money in spam. So to understand what primes the spam economy, MSNBC.com answered a single unsolicited commercial e-mail. The truth about spam is this: While the dirty work is done by secretive, faceless computer jockeys who are constantly evading authorities, lots of companies with names you know profit, at least tangentially, from their efforts. [Ed. Highly recommended]
- How a good spam filter just got better
by David Coursey. Over the next six weeks or so, we'll be seeing some new and improved tools for dealing with spam, from companies whose names you'd recognize but which I've promised not to reveal. I'm about to start testing this software and will have reports soon after its formal release. Meanwhile, there's a new version of Mailblocks available, a program I've already written about. Version 2.0 of the challenge-response system was released last week. As much as may be possible, it solves the problem I've had with using such systems to reduce spam.
Issue no. 277 - 30 July 2003
- AU - Government to ban spam
Australia's federal government intends to introduce legislation that will ban unsolicited commercial email. The legislation would be enforced by the Australian Communications Authority (ACA).
- AU - 'Over-enthusiastic' agent spams mobiles
A real estate agent in Queensland, Australia, has been reprimanded for spamming mobile phones, waking many people at 4 a.m. The Surfers Paradise office of Ray White real estate has apologised for blanket spamming mobile phone users, and has told ZDNet Australia it will 'severely discipline' the employee responsible. "
- EU - SPAM: European Commission goes on the offensive
Erkki Liikanen, European Commissioner for Enterprise and the Information Society, outlined in Brussels how the European Commission is planning to address the proliferation of unsolicited commercial e-mail, otherwise known as 'spam'. Given the timely adoption last year of a directive on Privacy and Electronic Communications, Member States have to transpose a 'ban on spam' into national legislation by the end of October 2003. As a second step, the European Commission expects a Communication on spam to be adopted in the Autumn. Concrete action would focus on effective enforcement, notably through international co-operation, technical measures for countering spam, and consumer awareness. The proposed measures would be first tested with Member States and interested parties through a workshop to be convened in October. Combating Spam on All Fronts (RAPID) Mr Erkki Liikanen Member of the European Commission, responsible for Enterprise and the Information Society "Combating Spam on All Fronts" Press Conference on Spam Brussels, 15 July 2003 and Questions and Answers on Spam and the EU Opt-in Regime. see also World Summit on the Information Society and SPAM (ITU).
- Microsoft urged to fry its own spam
Microsoft recently launched a high-profile campaign against spammers, but some critics say the company should be more introspective if it is serious about reducing the scourge of unwanted e-mail.
- UK - 'Spammer' protests innocence
A British man accused by Microsoft of spamming has told the BBC it is a case of mistaken identity and he will fight to clear his name. Simon Grainger, who lives on Merseyside, was one of 15 people around the world targeted by the company in what is the most high-profile attack so far on the huge wave of unwanted e-mail clogging up the internet. But the 43-year-old telecoms engineer insists that, in his case at least, Microsoft has got the wrong man - and he is now in a David and Goliath contest with the US software giant. see also Spambusters.
Issue no. 276 - 23 June 2003
- Microsoft opens campaign in the war on spam
Microsoft has filed civil lawsuits against 15 alleged spammers, 13 in America and two in Britain. The company accuses the defendants of sending over two billion junk e-mails to MSN and Hotmail users. Microsoft claims the companies resorted to underhand practices, such as disguising pornographic e-mails with a benign subject line, or making e-mails appear as if from a recognised sender. Microsoft is seeking to shut down the spammers’ operations and claiming unspecified damages.
- US - Panel Approves Anti-Spam Measures
A U.S. Senate committee passed a toughened measure to crack down on "spam" e-mail and promised that it would be strengthened further by the time it comes up for a full vote. The Senate Commerce Committee also voted to give antifraud enforcers greater authority to fight the unsolicited commercial pitches that now account for up to half of all e-mail traffic.
Issue no. 275 - 14 June 2003
- AOL filters out some e-mail from ISPs
America Online said a "technical change" in its spam filters blocked e-mails from an undisclosed list of Internet services. Affected subscribers from Comcast's broadband cable service discovered the blocks as early as last Thursday, and they continued to report difficulties through Monday afternoon. By late that afternoon, AOL had fixed the problem, but was unable to provide information as to its nature.
- US - FTC seeks broad powers to fight spam
The Federal Trade Commission is expected to ask Congress for sweeping new powers that would let it cooperate closely with other governments and prosecute domestic and overseas spammers more readily. A proposal, titled the International Consumer Protection Enforcement Act (ICPEA), drafted by the FTC would turn the agency's investigators into virtual spam cops, granting them the power to serve secret requests for subscriber information on Internet service providers, peruse FBI criminal databases and swap sensitive information with foreign law enforcement agencies. See also FTC seeks more power to fight spam (MSNBC).
Issue no. 274 - 9 June 2003
- E-Mailers Turn Isolationist in Battle Against Spam
Halt! Who goes there? Friend or foe? Internet users frustrated by a rising deluge of spam, or junk e-mail, are resorting to a new arsenal of software tools that block or quarantine mail of unknown origin. The anti-spam options range from address-book based systems that redirect mail from unknown senders, to image-blocking software, to collaborative reporting tools that allow users to report bulk e-mails with a single button click. In general, Internet users are resorting to the tactics of the medieval castle guard who barred all strangers at the gate.
Issue no. 273 - 1 June 2003
- DE - Eco-Kampagne: Surfer sollen Spammer melden
Die Werbemüll-Lawine rollt, und bisher scheint kein Kraut dagegen gewachsen. Der eco-Verband der Internet-Wirtschaft ruft nun zur Selbsthilfe auf: Mit einem Leitfaden sollen Surfer lernen, Spam zurück zu verfolgen - und die Spammer bei ihren Providern zu melden.
- How to spot and stop spam
Unsolicited e-mails now infuriatingly clutter many inboxes, just as paper junk mail buried many a front door map. But is smart technology set to save us from spam?
- Spam blockers may wreak e-mail havoc
by Declan McCullagh . Here's an unhappy prediction: The explosion of spam-blocking technology could herald the death of much legitimate e-mail. I wrote about patents relating to this technology, known as challenge-response technology. In theory, well-designed challenge-response utilities won't challenge mail from known correspondents or mail that you've actually asked to receive. Unfortunately, many current challenge-response systems are poorly designed, which could wreak havoc on mailing lists and other legitimate communications. This could make e-mail far less useful than it is today.
Issue no. 272 - 24 May 2003
- AU - IIA extends campaign against spam
The Internet Industry Association is extending its national campaign against spam (junk email) for a further three months, due to popular demand and a continuing escalation in the spam problem.
- DE - Erster Anti-Spam-Kongress
Der 1. Anti-Spam-Kongress hat mehr Resonanz als vom Veranstalter erwartet. Offenbar sei der Bedarf riesig, "diesem großen Ärgernis endlich aktiv zu begegnen". Rund 120 Teilnehmer hörten sich Vorträge an, die sich aus verschiedenen Perspektiven des Themas Spam annahmen. Auch der Heise Zeitschriften Verlag war bei der Veranstaltung mit von der Partie: Verlags-Justiziar Joerg Heidrich erläuterte seine Einschätzung über rechtliche Möglichkeiten zur Spam-Bekämpfung. Bert Ungerer, Redakteur der Zeitschrift iX, stellte anhand eines selbst erstellten E-Mail-Filters die Möglichkeiten von E-Mail-Header-Analysen zur Diskussion.
- In-boxes that fight back
by Declan McCullagh. The spam-blocking technique that's attracted the most attention among start-ups recently is a very simple one: Challenge-response (CR) technology. When your mailbox is protected by a CR system, anyone who tries to contact you will be greeted with a response saying something like "click on this link to deliver this message" or "type in the word you see in the box above." Well-designed CR utilities won't challenge mail from known correspondents or mail that you specifically asked to receive.
- KR - Government Introduces E-Mail Filter
Internet users will be able to block unsolicited e-mails by registering their e-mail addresses at www.nospam.go.kr, a state-run anti-spam Web site. The Fair Trade Commission (FTC) has banned companies from sending unsolicited e-mails, or spam, to Internet users registered with the spam-filtering site.
- US - Lawmakers, tech industry push spam law
A broad international effort by government and industry is needed to stop the torrent of junk e-mail that threatens Internet commerce and correspondence, lawmakers were told.
- US - Spam, That Ill O' The ISP: A Reality Check for Legislators
by Hanah Metchis and Solveig Singleton. This paper assesses spam and its legal and technical solutions with an emphasis on the perspective of ISPs. We begin by navigating among several competing definitions of spam and outlining its most seriously problematic aspects for consumers, businesses, ISPs, and legitimate marketers. We go on to assess contractual, technical, and statutory solutions. Full report. Competitive Enterprise Institute is a non-profit public policy organization dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government.
Issue no. 271 - 18 May 2003
- US - Feds prime new antispam weapon
Federal and state law enforcement agencies pledged to take an aggressive new approach to fighting spam: identifying "open relay" mail servers that serve as conduits for massive quantities of junk e-mail. The agencies - in tandem with officials from Australia, Canada and Japan - have sent letters to operators of over 1,000 e-mail servers around the globe warning that an open relay "creates problems for consumers worldwide, for law enforcement and for your organization."
- US - NY Attorney General Says 'Buffalo Spammer' Arrested
The man known as the "Buffalo Spammer," who has allegedly sent 825 million unwanted e-mails, has been arrested and arraigned, New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said. Carmack was charged with: stealing the identity of two residents to open Internet access accounts with EarthLink Inc. ; falsifying the business records of EarthLink; forging the headers of e-mail sent from the EarthLink accounts; and possessing a software program designed to create the forged e-mails.
- US - SEC Sues Spammer for Alleged Web Fraud
Regulators filed fraud charges against a 20-year-old Kentucky man who allegedly scammed money from would-be investors by creating a Web site for a fictitious federal agency. The Securities and Exchange Commission lawsuit, filed in U.S. District court in Tennessee, charged K.C. Smith with raising $102,554 through bogus Web sites and about 9 million unsolicited e-mail messages. Smith even used the SEC's own seal to convince investors the scheme was legitimate, according to the lawsuit.
Issue no. 270 - 11 May 2003
- US - Advocacy groups back antispam proposal
Three consumer advocacy groups said they are backing a proposed e-mail standard that aims to help consumers and Internet service providers separate legitimate e-mail from unsolicited bulk e-mail, known as spam. The groups, the Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial Email (CAUCE), CAUCE Canada and the SpamCon Foundation, endorsed the Trusted E-mail Open Standard (TEOS), which was proposed in April. The approach is based on the work of a privacy consultancy, ePrivacy Group, which created the Trusted Sender technology--an industry self-regulation program that tries to distinguish between legitimate e-mail and spam, and prevent marketers from setting up fraudulent e-mail accounts.
Issue no. 269 - 6 May 2003
- Net heavyweights unite to KO spam
The top three e-mail service providers are pooling their resources and technical expertise to reduce unwanted commercial solicitations, or spam, that is inundating their systems. America Online, Yahoo and Microsoft sketched a broad outline that calls for technical changes to e-mail to make it more difficult to send the widely reviled messages. Among the steps are plans to hinder spammers from creating multiple fraudulent e-mail accounts in bulk and to determine the real identity of the senders.
- US - A modest proposal to end spam
It's not every day people bet their jobs on the effectiveness of a law--let alone an antispam law. Many U.S. states have already enacted such e-mail laws, and spam keeps flooding in. But that's exactly what Larry Lessig, a Stanford University law professor and one of the most prominent liberal voices online, has done. A few months ago, Lessig 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 dream job at a top law school.
- US - Even Tough Laws May Not Kill Spam
(IDG News Service)
Two proposals aiming to curb unwanted commercial e-mail being considered by Congress don't go far enough to eliminate spam, say some antispam advocates. The country needs federal antispam legislation, agreed most of the group of eight panelists at the Federal Trade Commission's recent Spam Forum. But all disagreed with a proposal recently offered by Representative Zoe Lofgren, and most said they didn't support a bill offered by Senators Conrad Burns and Ron Wyden. Spam and a Case of Dyspepsia (Washington Post) Spam e-mail problem worse than imagined and Conference concludes spam is here to stay ... for now (AP)
- US - Virginia Blocks Bulk E-Mailers
Virginia launched a crackdown on unsolicited bulk e-mail yesterday with a new anti-spam statute that enables prosecutors to seize the profits, computers and other assets of high-volume offenders. Gov. Mark R. Warner traveled to the Dulles headquarters of America Online, the world's largest Internet service provider, to ceremonially sign recently enacted legislation that establishes five-year prison terms and other criminal penalties against chronic, large-scale senders.
Issue no. 268 - 28 April 2003
- AOL vs. Dialeranbieter Interfun
Per Einstweiliger Verfügung ließ AOL dem Dialer-Anbieter Interfun untersagen, künftig "E-Mails zum Zwecke des Vertriebs von Zugangs-Software für Erotikdienste oder zur Bewerbung solcher Dienste zu versenden, ohne dass bereits eine Geschäftsbeziehung mit dem Empfänger besteht oder dessen tatsächliches oder mutmaßliches Einverständnis für den Empfang vorliegt."
- US - Antispam Registry Proposed
(IDG News Service)
A coalition of e-mail service providers plans to develop registries intended to separate the legitimate bulk e-mailers from the spammers. It will focus on a certification process for companies sending out bulk e-mail. Vendors who pass the certification will get a sort of seal of approval.The certification process for the registry, code-named Project Lumos, will require bulk e-mailers to reveal their identities. It proposes imposing a standard system for including all sender information in mail headers, and an authentication process that provides a secure proof of identity in the SMTP header.
Issue no. 267 - 21 April 2003
- AU - Anti-spam laws proposed in new report
Unsolicited email is set to be outlawed in Australia and spammers could face prison sentences, after a dramatic about-turn from a federal Government taskforce charged with examining the issue. Anti-spam laws will be drafted "as quickly as possible" after the final report into spam by the National Office for the Information Economy (NOIE) was released. see also Media Release.
- US - AOL targets spam e-mails
The largest internet service provider in the US, America Online is taking legal action to try to stop the flood of spam that has infuriated many of its 27 million customers. AOL has filed lawsuits against more than a dozen individuals and companies who it says have sent millions of unsolicited messages through its electronic network.
- Complaint (America Online v. Maryland Internet Marketing) [Computer Software, Mortgage Offers]
- Complaint (America Online v. John Does 1-10) [Online Pharmaceuticals, "Mexican Steroids"]
- Complaint (America Online v. John Does 1-20) [Mortgage Offers]
- Complaint (America Online v. John Does 1-30) [Digital Cable Descramblers, Sexually Explicit Websites, Male Sexual Organ Enhancement Drugs, "Generic Viagra," Online College Degrees] [WARNING: Exhibit A contains sexually explicit images]
- Complaint (America Online v. Byte Night) [Pornographic Websites] [WARNING: Exhibit A contains sexually explicit images].
- US - Fake hate emails mar activists' reputations
An Arab-American activist, a legal adviser to the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, checked his e-mail one day and found scores of angry messages asking why he hated Americans and Jews. The messages were responding to e-mails marked as coming from him. Only one big problem: he never sent the hate mail. He was the victim of a new form of harassment in which fake e-mail is sent using real addresses. By exploiting the simplicity and openness of the Internet's mail protocols, unidentified provocateurs have been sending incendiary messages posing as Shora and other Arab-Americans. The tactic, known as e-mail spoofing, requires little technical know-how and no illegal computer break-ins. Yet it has caused a lot of trouble -- wasting time, damaging reputations and even leading to the suspension of e-mail accounts.
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