Skip to main content
Spam Another Day

It’s getting worse. Spam that is. The number of junk mail messages I’m receiving on a daily basis has almost doubled since I last wrote about the problem. In fact, Brightmail estimate that the problem has increased by as much as 400% in the last year at a global cost to business of £5.5 billion or marginally more than the cost to the taxpayer of a successful bid to host the 2012 Olympics.



I recently discovered to my cost, that having one’s email address on a company website is a very bad idea. There’s a whole industry devoted to ‘harvesting’ addresses from the Web and one piece of research has demonstrated that six decoy email addresses attracted 8,500 pieces of spam in six months alone; much of which, appears to come from Africans asking if they can borrow one’s bank account.

The Americans, now ratcheting-up their own legislation are at last even considering an anti-spam treaty, although I rather wonder how effective this might be. Both AOL and Microsoft are pushing for much harsher penalties for marketing companies that breach existing legislation.

In the United States, The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has witnessed an explosion in the number of complaints it receives from consumers about spam. In 2001, around 10,000 junk e-mails each day, were being forwarded to its staff from unhappy Internet users. This figure now stands closer to 130,000and such is the frustration at being unable to prevent the seemingly inexhaustible growth in illicit direct email that even the most moderate voices in Government are starting to suggest penalties that are only a little less removed from a government-sponsored vacation to Guantanamo Bay.

Lat week, I received advanced notification of the UK’s first ‘Spam Summit’, which illustrates the concern our own MPs, led by Labour’s Derek Wyatt. I don’t however believe that even with our string European legislation, we can do much more against this menace, short of rigorously filtering every piece of email that comes into the country, an idea that Home Secretary, David Blunkett has tried to introduce by another route.

Other than talking about the problem and imposing harsh penalties on European and American companies that choose to ignore the legislation, I’m not sure what we can actually do to shut down the forty or so major businesses that hide in the Far East. It’s rather like saying that we are outraged by the trade in endangered species for inclusion in traditional oriental medicine. We can be as outraged as we like but that’s not going to stop a highly lucrative business succeeding in a legislative environment which turns a blind eye on international treaties.

So we have a choice. We insist that ISPs install anti-spam filters, which many, if most of them are doing and on our own mail servers and PCs we install software like ‘V@anquish’ a product that I’ve just been sent from the States, that sounds like a washing powder but promises “A radical approach” to the problem. We’ll see.

Short of sending the sixth fleet along to bomb the offenders, possibly the most appealing solution for most of our readers, all we can do is hope that tighter legislation in Europe and the United States will reduce some of the background noise and remove the likes of the mail I received earlier from GenerateMoreVisitors052203@excite.com that asks:

“Would you like to have your message seen by over 15.6 million opt-in targeted people daily”?

Opting-in to an email list is rather like opting-in to taxation. There’s no way to opt-out out from either.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Mainframe to Mobile

Not one of us has a clue what the world will look like in five years’ time, yet we are all preparing for that future – As  computing power has become embedded in everything from our cars and our telephones to our financial markets, technological complexity has eclipsed our ability to comprehend it’s bigger picture impact on the shape of tomorrow.

Our intuition has been formed by a set of experiences and ideas about how things worked during a time when changes were incremental and somewhat predictable. In March 1953. there were only 53 kilobytes of high-speed RAM on the entire planet.

Today, more than 80 per cent of the value of FTSE 500* firms is ‘now dark matter’: the intangible secret recipe of success; the physical stuff companies own and their wages bill accounts for less than 20 per cent: a reversal of the pattern that once prevailed in the 1970s. Very soon, Everything at scale in this world will be managed by algorithms and data and there’s a need for effective platforms for ma…
A Christmas Tale

It’s pitch blackness in places along the sea wall this evening and I'm momentarily startled by a small dog with orange flashing yuletide antlers along the way. I’m the only person crazy enough to be running and I know the route well enough to negotiate it in the dark, part of my Christmas exercise regime and a good way of relieving stress.

Why stress you might ask. After all, it is Christmas Day.

True but I’ve just spent over two hours assembling the giant Playmobil ‘Pony Farm’ set when most other fathers should be asleep in front of the television.



I was warned that the Playmobil ‘Pirate Ship’ had driven some fathers to drink or suicide and now I understand why. If your eyesight isn’t perfect or if you’ve had a few drinks with your Christmas lunch then it’s a challenge best left until Boxing day but not an option if you happen to have a nine year old daughter who wants it ready to take horses by tea time.

Perhaps I should stick to technology but then, the instruc…

An Ockham of Gatwick

The 13th century theologian and philosopher, William of Ockham, who once lived in his small Surrey village, not so very far from what is today, the wide concrete expanse of Gatwick airport is a frequently referenced source of intellectual reason. His contribution to modern culture was Ockham’s Razor, which cautions us when problem solving, that “The explanation requiring the fewest assumptions is most likely to be correct;” sound advice which constantly proves to be true.

A week further-on since Britain’s second busiest airport was bought to a complete standstill by two or perhaps two hundred different drone sightings, it is perhaps time to revisit William of Ockham’s maxim, rather than be led astray by an increasingly bizarre narrative, one which has led Surrey police up several blind alleys with little or nothing in the way of measurable results.

 Exploring the possibilities with a little help in reasoning from our medieval friar, we appear to have a choice of two different account…