Bits from Bill

Technology thoughts leaking from the brain of "Bill Pytlovany"

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Spamming Laws Provide No Solution

I don’t think it’s a secret that we all hate spam. Every month or so I see new products and new schemes to get past spam filters. Lady ChalupaSpammers continue to be concerned about my penis, my watch and my credit report but now they’re really worried about how I trim my cat’s nails. I also hear from lonely girls sitting in internet cafe’s. They obviously are aren’t aware of my need for Viagra.

While we all hoped the CAN_SPAM Act would help it’s done little to stem the flood of unwanted Emails. Suing someone under the federal act can be expensive so many plantiffs rely on state anti-spam laws.

Recently an obvious spam case in Virginia was thrown out because the law as written was to broad. ( Commonwealth vs Jaynes )

On July 16, 2003, Jaynes sent 12,197 pieces of unsolicited e-mail with falsified routing and transmission information onto AOL’s proprietary network. On July 19, 2003, he sent 24,172, and on July 26, 2003, he sent 19,104. None of the recipients of the e-mails had requested any communication from Jaynes. He intentionally falsified the header information and sender domain names before transmitting the e-mails to the recipients.

Unfortunately the court concluded the following…

…we hold that the circuit court properly had jurisdiction over Jaynes. We also hold that Jaynes has standing to raise a First Amendment overbreadth claim as to Code § 18.2-152.3:1. That statute is unconstitutionally overbroad on its face because it prohibits the anonymous transmission of all unsolicited bulk e-mails including those containing political, religious or other speech protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Accordingly, we will reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals and vacate Jaynes’ convictions of violations of Code § 18.2-152.3:1. 13

Our law makers have a difficult time creating laws that cover every possible situation but wouldn’t it be nice if judges were able to enforce the true spirit or intent of laws?

I still use AOL and I must admit they have a decent spam filter. Unfortunately, they have their own “certified” approved spam which comes with a special blue colored icon. I find joy in selecting these and clicking AOL’s “Report Spam” button.

AOL Certified Email

I still have to review what Outlook filters out but it’s getting easier to pick out the crap just by looking at it. I expect we’ll all start seeing a lot of Email on how to solve our financial crisis.

How do you deal with your spam?

PS… Lady Chalupa says “No to Pedi Paws”. Lady Chalupa

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Blogger Corrine said...

Its good to see Scotty's friend Lady Chalupa, the TaskCatcher!

7:56 PM  
Blogger Charles Pearmain said...

Unfortunately Spammers cross international boundaries without even noticing them so local regulation is unlikely to be effective overall.

Spam filtering services can be pretty good but even they are regularly fooled by messages that are obviously spam to human viewers. I can't see the situation improving until a standardised method for users to send email from verifiably legitimate accounts is developed. I'll be the first to switch our mailboxes to accepting 'Verified Mail Only"!

7:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Bill (and Scotty).

I use K9 on my emails - free and you teach it yourself what is good and bad etc.

It catches some 99.8% of my spam with about 0.5% false negative/positive, which is quite good for me (only about 400 email a day :) )

I do not see the situation changing unless some real action is taken an international level.

9:04 AM  
Blogger Jim said...

I receive an average of six spam e-mails per week.

1. I never use my primary e-mail address when filling in requirements, except for my credit card site.

2. I us Spamihilator set to Very High. My friends get through, but the spam is filtered to source and subject only.

The court gave the spammers safe harbor in the stupid ruling.

8:18 PM  
Blogger Catmoves said...

"Our law makers have a difficult time creating laws that cover every possible situation...." um, er, you might have pointed out that they have a difficult time creating laws. And left it at that.
I use AOL, also, and have been noting that whenever I comment on some of the idiocy their home page prints, I get a bunch of spam. AOL, IMHO, fosters spam. They themselves put your AOL screen name on your comment. It is not a difficult step for spammers to add So until they allow their subscribers to use a non-valid screen name, it's going to continue. I've talked to some techs (my Hindi is improving regularly) and they silently agree that AOL misses the boat.

2:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it possible to determine the number of addressees to which an email is sent? If so, then a filter that could be set to reject a self-decided number of addressees could opt you out of a span sent to for example 1,000 inboxes. If you were a member of a society that sent out announcements to several thousand members, their address could be added to the "approved sender's list."

I notice that some spams lure you into their webpage by adding an "to unsubscribe" link that only requires you register for their email - only to find that you can't unsubscribe after all.

1:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The first year I owed my computer I had very little problems with spam after I switched from Yahoo.

However, recently, I began to post in AOL's community forum and that is when my spam problems started anew.

Since I had an AOL account, I used the same information to sign into the forum. Along with a user name which I signed at the end of each post, AOL also posted my email address as my user name. Now every week I get spams addressed to that same user name and email address; and the contents are lewd!

Tagging emails as spam is not a problem within AOL's webmail, which I use. However, since I have multiple email accounts, I primarily use Windows Live Mail (WLM).

The junk mail feature within my WLM will not transfer these spam emails to the junk folder, nor will it block senders' name or domain. I must open AOL webmail to do this and at times the spam I blocked will again arrive the next month in the WLM inbox.

I reported this to WLM support and they told me it was an AOL problem!

At least I am happy to see someone else has realized AOL's habit of publishing their customers' email addresses is an open invitation to spammers. Too bad AOL does not realize it, or do they?

2:06 PM  

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