Making a Difference
So, why does anyone think a registry could make a difference? The best you could hope from a registry is a new bunch of civil suits wasting court resources to go after spammers who wont be found anyway. But once we have a generally accepted SMTP authentication system in place, things change. You can imagine a lot of CAN-SPAM being a lot more enforceable. As a side effect, I would expect almost all of the big spammers to move operations offshore, but its possible that they would then become more filterable. Clearly, we would be in a better position than we are now, and filtering software would be able to work much better than it does.Schumer also makes the inevitable and naive analogy to the do-not-call registry. But the phone system doesnt allow for identity spoofing as readily as does the e-mail system. And Im not so enthusiastic about how well the do-not-call registry is working either. The law is riddled with exceptions for charities, for people doing phony surveys and for any vendor with whom you already do business. I get lots of calls, and Ive been on the registry since day one. Of course, a politician doesnt really need a functioning system, just a system they can take credit for. And registry proponents seem oblivious to the potential for ironic abuse in the system; that the list would become available to spammers and turn into a "Please Spam Me" list. Face it, folks, were dealing with a completely amoral bunch, and they would abuse it if possible. Penalties for such abuse are just closing the barn door after the horse is long gone. The proposals coming out of MARID are not perfect by any means, and it would be better if they were not controversial in the industry. But they have a much better chance of improving things on the ground for e-mail users than any phony global opt-out list. Security Center Editor Larry Seltzer has worked in and written about the computer industry since 1983. Check out eWEEK.coms Security Center at http://security.eweek.com for the latest security news, reviews and analysis.
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