In a more promising venture, AOL, Microsoft, and Yahoo have united in a bid to stop spam via technical means. The NYT article doesn’t really explain the details very well, and I likely wouldn’t understand them if it did. But I believe it is much more likely that service providers will be able to stop the deluge than for legislation to succeed.

FILED UNDER: Science & Technology
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. joy says:

    You completely missed the money quote in that article…

    Once e-mail users can identify the sender of a message, the companies propose developing a list of e-mail marketers who agree to a set of standards for responsible practices. This will not prevent anyone with a connection to the Internet from sending e-mail messages. But users could choose to ignore mail from those not on the approved list.

    This alliance isn’t so much as “stopping spam” as it is to create standards to allow spamming from “approved” sources. Guess who is going to approve these senders?

  2. 42nd SSD says:

    Yeah, this seems little more than a cheezy way for the big-name ISPs to “legitimately” jump on the spam wagon.

    I can partially understand the rationale. “Spam will always exist”, so if we provide “legitimate means” for people to advertise then the majority of the spam problem will go away.

    I totally disagree that it will work. Spammers get customers by advertising how many potential clients they can reach. Mailing to people who only opt-in (few people will be crazy enough to do so–look how many people have signed up for the national opt-out call list) will get very few customers. Granted some responsible advertising clients will want exactly that, but most of them aren’t trying to send spam in the first place.

    I think it would be a better for the ISPs to show they want to stop the spammers. Making it much harder for them to do searches for mail addresses, aggressively going after AUP violators, not selling customer lists, and offering services such as throwaway email addresses would be a great start. Otherwise this looks like exactly what it is–a way for them to make more $$$.