TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Spam Filters Gone Wild

Spam Filters Gone Wild

Monty Solomon (
Wed, 3 May 2006 01:02:58 -0400

Spam Filters Gone Wild; Spate of Incidents at Verizon,
AOL Point to Growing Problem Of Blocking Legitimate Email

May 3, 2006

Internet companies are taking more aggressive steps to stop the flow
of unwanted email. In a significant number of cases, though, consumers
complain that the efforts increasingly are blocking the good along
with the bad.

Possibly millions of AOL members were temporarily unable to receive
some mail from Google Inc.'s Gmail users last week after AOL held up
messages from some new Gmail servers over concerns it might be spam.
An AOL software update recently resulted in a stoppage of mail that
mentioned at least 60 Internet addresses. An update of Verizon
Communication Inc.'s spam filters recently sparked widespread
complaints from consumers who were unable to receive and send

The companies blamed the problems on software glitches or
communication failures and often fixed them within hours. Tight
precautions are necessary, the companies say, since spam can threaten
online security and safety -- a more serious problem than the nuisance
of a few missed messages. But others say the incidents are a troubling
sign that new antispam measures may be going to far, contributing to
everything from lost real-estate deals and blocked banking
transactions to bruised relationships caused by unreturned emails that
never got through to friends in the first place.

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: As I discuseed in this column
yesterday, the _real villains_ -- the spammer-scammers -- do not care
either way, and the people who lean toward caring are busy squabbling
with each other over which methods to use. If one has to choose between
'online safety and security' (the viewpoint of many companies) and
'a few missed messages' (which netizens seem to care about) I would
choose to try and insure that no _legitimate_ messages were lost. But
there is a third choice, which some netizens -- I call them 'enablers'
refuse to consider: severe punishment of spammers; they opt instead to
continually try to refine their 'spam filters', not worrying all that
much about 'a few messages'. The enablers have one excuse after
another why nothing will work except for their filtering schemes, and
as we see in this message and others, even that does not work all that
well. Maybe they can learn by extremes: I suggested yesterday that if
lots of mail servers were constantly jammed with trash domain names
(for our pretection; valid email addresses in the text area of email)
and a notation that spammer-scammers 1, 2, 3, 4 had made these efforts
necessary (let's all give a warm greeting to them!) they might
possibly begin to take the hint; then again, sadly, maybe not. PAT]

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