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Anti-Spam « Previous | |Next »
November 6, 2003

The internet is increasingly being clogged up by hackers, commercial spammers who flood our email boxes using deceit, trickery and secrecy, and the direct marketers with their newly-found taste for high-volume email. The flood of junk spam--unsolicited electronic messaging--- that threatens to make email useless comes from the US through Asia, China and Romania.

The internet needs some form of regulation and governance. Telstra's BigPond email service, for instance, became dysfunctional due to a massive surge in spam blasted out by the epidemic of viruses on customer computers. Spam is the weapon currently being used to ensure that viruses and worms clog up the traffic and cause damage. There needs to be regulation to ensure that email remains a reliable and efficient means of communication. More is required than spam filters on individual computers.

There is some anti-spam legislation (Spam Bill 2003) being considered by Parliament to regulate the deluge. It is due to be introduced to the Senate latter this month. It aims to regulate the sendign of commercial email, prohibit unsolicited e-mails, and give the Australian Communicaions Authority the power to monitor, investigate and enforce penalties.

In an opinion piece in today's Australian Financial Review (subsscription required, 6 11 03, p. 79) David Vaile from the Cyperspace Law and Policy Centre at NSW University the bill is full of truck size loop holes.

It starts off on the basis of requiring consent from the recipient (opt-in) rather than using the opt-out approach favoured by the US Congress and the American direct marketeers.

Vaile says the loopholes in the Bill allows legitimate online marketing practices political parties, government charities and religious groups flogging goods and services to engage in their high -volume email. It also allows commercial marketers to do the same, on the grounds that they know us, our internet address is published, or that they are not really promoting goods or services.

What the bill acutally does is legalize the intrusive habits of the direct marketers who rely on data mining and profiling to openly target known individuals. So we can look forward personalized political messages.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:35 AM | | Comments (2)


Reading the article by John Walker that Scott referenced has convinced me that the days of the open, free and anonymous internet are numbered. The irresponsible few are ruining it for the many. Goodbye frontiersville and freedom and hullo civilisation and controls. Viruses and spam can only be prevented by introducing JWs brave old world.

Bullshit. If people were much more careful about giving out their email addresses they wouldn't have half the problem. Use a freemail address for registering with web-sites. The idea that we should meekly give up the freedom of the internet because it is a little too difficult to look after ourselves is risible.

If I publically posted my phone number I would expect the same amount of crap.

Use a string like or if you want to put your address on the net. You are only dealing with a program and (as any programmer knows) getting a program to read the sense of a sentence to extract the true meaning is a nightmare (indeed it may be impossible).

Not to mention that giving responsibility for cleaning up spam to government would be just about guaranteed to fail.