TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Spam Hits Us Hard Today - Message Losses

Re: Spam Hits Us Hard Today - Message Losses
15 Apr 2005 14:10:55 -0700

> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: ... Have you seen those various
> commercials playing on TVLand?

As an aside, I don't watch TV Land much anymore. I liked them and
Nick originally when they showed a lot of classics from the 1950s and
early 1960s -- great shows that hadn't been seen for years. But now
it's mostly 1980s/1990s stuff and just another station running
syndicated reruns. I don't need a specialty cable network to watch

> Now the first part of your message, summed up thusly: Can't *they* do
> anything about it? I can tell you that much of the software used in
> email was constructed thirty years ago when spam was unheard of; it is
> not easily adaptable for modern times.

IMHO, that is a major weakness of the Internet. I don't know the
technical details, but the idea of "anonymous" relay sites is foolish
on a public network.

When the Internet was a tightly closed community, it could get away
with no security (although I'm surprised college kids didn't try
pranks with it even way back.) But what works in a closed community
simply will not work in an open one.

It is ridiculous to me that we spend so much money on anti-virus
software and other protections when the network itself should be
hardened to protect the bad stuff from getting out on it. Despite all
the protection and savvy people, my employer was knocked out of
commission on several occasions from 'worms' and the like that flooded
the emails. That kind of weakness is scary. Adding locks on the door
will not prevent crime in the streets from entering -- we must clean up
the crime in the first place.

> I can also tell you there was a time many years ago when the very
> notion of censoring email and/or Usenet messages was unthinkable.

I remember that controversy well. Again, once the Internet became a
public network rather than a private one the rules needed to change.

I never bought into that early "anything goes" philosophy -- because
that philosophy never existed anywhere else. Contrary to myth,
college campus conversation never was as freewheeling, open, or as
wideranging as educators want us to believe -- there was always some
sort of constraint AND moderation of them.

In the 1960s it was trendy in some places to use foul language or
explicit sex talk on campus. Most kids participated because it was
fun to break the rules and they enjoyed doing something in class that
they're parents would freak out over. But such talk also made a lot
of people uncomfortable (even if they didn't say so at the time), and
such people avoided from such discussions. So, what was supposedly a
_wider_ discourse was actually a _narrower_ one.

In normal society, there are social and legal rules that normally
prevent things from getting out of hand. Freedom of speech is
protected, but someone who attempts to monopolize it and prevent
others from speaking will eventually get knocked day. The overall
society isn't perfect but it usually works out.

On the other hand, the Internet being technical rather than
face-to-face presents a completely different set of challenges. The
old social norms and enforceability don't work. I have seen several
Usenet groups become worthless because of high volume abusive postings
that drown out legitimate discourse.

Further, there's something about email that lets people say nasty
things they otherwise wouldn't say in other media. Maybe because it's
so easy to type it fast and send it without proofing as we once did
when we typed or handwrote letters, or when speaking to someone face
to face. And then of course there's anonymous email that is often
used to harass and intimidate or worse.

> So Lisa, to further elaborate on your question "can't anything be
> done", there are some politics involved with spam even today. There
> are still some netters, that though they bitch and moan about all the
> spam still don't want to get down to the real business of putting them
> all to sleep once and for all. Thankfully, more and more people on the
> net are getting to the point of 'thinking' about it. PAT]

Is it still the pioneer "netters" who fight efforts to block spam, or
are corporate interests involved somewhat? IIRC, some spam fighting
techiques were opposed by mainstream corporations because they can
send out mass emails, too. (Sears fought against automated computer
phone messages because it uses them to set up service call appts. I
think they should spring to hire real people to do that.)

Thanks for your observations.

What scares me is that the pendulum might swing far in the other
direction and draconian steps will be taken to "protect us".

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: What you term 'pioneer netters' are the
only ones who know anything about the system at all. Corporate
interests don't know beans about it. All they know is that when Gore
invented the internet, he included 'cheap email' with it. If the
'pioneer netters' decided to shut the whole thing down -- bring it all
to a sreaming halt for a couple days -- my feeling is ICANN and their
mouthpiece Vint Cerf would soil their pants, right, John??? They take
our registration money (paid for the domain names) and went off to
Argentina in South America last week for a convention, where they
could kiss each other's backsides and compliment each other on the
fine job they are doing on the net. As has been said many times in
the past, ICANN hopes to rip off the net entirely from most of us and
give it to commercial interests, and MCI is one of the principals
in the scheme.

What I do not understand is why ICANN does not cut to the chase and
declare this to be all one big SpamNet, where the rest of us innocent
bystanders is 'allowed to send messages if we wish'. Instead of using
Spam Assassin and the like, the rule will just just toss it all out
except for persons X, Y and Z provided _we_ have paid fees to use it.

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