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Today, the Global Internet Project convened a workshop in Washington, DC called “Spam: Can It Be Stopped?”. The participants represented some of the leading experts on the subject from government, academia, law, and business. There was strong concensus that spam is a broad and deep problem and it is having significant negative economic and personal productity impact. That is to say nothing of the nuisance and privacy invasion factors. The other thing that emerged from the workshop quite clearly was that there is no “silver bullet” — no simple solution. In fact, all the experts feel that spam will never be eliminated. The good news is that there was also consensus that much can be done. In particular, the following areas are already doing a lot but have the potential to do much more.
1. Internet Servcie Providers can take technical actions with regard to inbound and outbound email. It is not the total answer but is a key component.
2. Employers provide email services for millions of people around the world. They have the potential to take action on spam that arrives to employee email accounts. Many are taking action.
3. The user (consumer) is clearly in the best position to determine what is spam and what isn’t. There are various technologies and web services that can help. Greater awareness is needed and ease of use needs to be better. This area has huge potential.
4. Governments are not irrelevant. Regulation won’t work but prosecution of those who defraud can surely have a big impact. We have the laws — now they need to be enforced.
The GIP is going to stay on the case — keeping visibility of the subject at a high level. Keep your eye on www.witsa.org/gip.