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January 14, 2003
For Immediate Release

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Spam Solutions In Sight

Internet Group Calls for Multifaceted Industry Tools to Tackle Internet Spam
Honolulu, HI. January 14, 2003. Leading Internet experts at a spam workshop hosted by The Global Internet Project (GIP) expressed optimism that a multi-faceted approach spearheaded by Internet service providers, technology companies and government increasingly provides Internet users with effective tools to cope with the growing use of spam. The Group warned against new legislation to tackle the problem. The group said adoption of new technology products and end user education, combined with active enforcement of fraud laws currently on the books, represent the Internet community’s best response to unwanted and potentially deceptive email. The spam workshop, entitled “A Case Study of Private Sector Oversight”, was the second in a series organized by the GIP.
“The intrusion of spam has grown from a trickle to a tidal wave over the past few years” said John Patrick, former Vice President for Internet Technology at IBM Corporation and Chairman of the Global Internet Project. “Spam has risen from a technical irritant to a major issue impacting the morale and productivity of employees at companies and institutions of all sizes around the world. The public cry for regulation is understandable, but unfortunately there is no silver bullet. However, there are reasons to be optimistic. Increasingly aggressive actions by Internet Service Providers, employers, consumers, and government are beginning to have a positive impact,” said GIP Chairman Patrick at the event, held in conjunction with the Global Forum on ‘Policy Frameworks for the Digital Economy’, hosted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).
The GIP Chairman warned against new legislation to stop spam: “There are already laws against fraudulent representations and aggressive prosecution by governments is required”, said Mr. Patrick. “Moreover, governments around the world must team up with industry in order to educate citizens how they can best protect themselves against unwanted commercial e-mail, based on their individual preferences and the technology that is available to suit their needs,” said Mr. Patrick.
Chairman Patrick applauded the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for its recent “Spam Harvest” initiative which, in cooperation with several law enforcement and consumer protection agencies, identified how spammers obtain e-mail addresses, and how Internet users most effectively can protect themselves against receiving unwanted messages. The FTC found that some of the most effective remedies included the “masking” of one’s e-mail addresses by putting a word or phrase in an email address (to trick harvesting computer programs, but not people); using separate screen names for Internet chatting; setting up separate personal and public, or even disposable, e-mail addresses; and using unique email addresses containing both letters and numbers – FTC information on spam can be found here.
Vinton Cerf, Senior Vice President of Architecture and Technology at WorldCom, Inc., said, “Industry can seek to educate Internet users as to inbox management, how to take advantage of the latest technologies, how to identify and alert appropriate authorities about deceptive or fraudulent e-mail, and how to manage important computer security issues.” Dr. Cerf emphasized that Industry also should evaluate whether there are ways it can assist government authorities in their efforts in enforcing applicable laws. “Referring consumer complaints to appropriate authorities and cooperating with law enforcement agencies are steps industry can usefully take,” said Dr. Cerf.
David Lassner, CIO of the University of Hawaii, echoed many of Dr. Cerf’s statements, noting that “unfortunately, spam is one of the problems that has driven the need to more aggressively educate Internet users and service providers at all levels on how to identify fraudulent email and hoaxes, better manage their in-boxes, use the technologies available to help them, alert appropriate authorities about deceptive or fraudulent e-mail, and how to manage important computer security issues relating to their hardware and software.” Dr. Lassner noted that “there are an increasing number of technical approaches that can be applied by users and providers to help, and added that these challenges, too, will benefit from improved cooperation among industry, government, Internet Service Providers and end-users.”
Cloudmark CEO Karl Jacob explained how new technologies are effectively fighting spam by empowering Internet users to control what kind of messages they want to receive via a collaborative network and combining that knowledge with an advanced predictive engine to stop spam before it costs businesses money: “There is a need for cost effective and efficient anti-spam technology as it continues to be the best weapon in the fight against spam,” stated Mr. Jacob in his keynote address. “Internet users today have a wide range of technologies available to them to address concerns over spam.” Cloudmark offers a peer-to-peer (P2P), collaborative solution called SpamNet – delivering spam relief to over 250,000 people, each day. Its enterprise solution, called Cloudmark Authority, saves companies millions of dollars by preventing spam from entering their network. Authority analyzes the DNA of spam to predict whether or not a message is spam and to constantly improve itself over time.
“While it is important to use technology and existing laws to protect users from spam over the Internet, we must also note that there is an increasing problem of spam sent over mobile telephones and wireless devices,” noted Dr. Kazuo Murano, Corporate Senior Vice President of Fujitsu Limited. “In some countries, such as Japan, spam over mobile devices is more of a major intrusion for users than spam over the Internet and personal computers,” he added. “Therefore, we need to examine carefully whether or not the current proposed technological and policies measures will also be effective against spam over mobile devices. We may need additional measures to protect mobile users,” commented Dr. Murano.
“Ultimately, the end user is the best judge of how much spam or unsolicited commercial e-mail he or she can stand,” stressed Dr. Vint Cerf. “Filtering products are only one of many types of technologies available to block spam.” In one recent development, Cerf noted that “single-purpose” e-mail addresses have been proposed that can be used for only a pre-determined time, such as for online purchasing or newsgroup postings. “Of course, if messages are sent to expired versions of these mailbox addresses, the mail relay will still have to deal with them by sending back rejection notices, but they won’t reach the targeted user. However, if users’ real email addresses appear in the clear in public distribution lists, spammers will harvest them regardless of the use of perishable email addresses.”

About the GIP

The Global Internet Project (GIP) is an international group of senior executives committed to fostering continued growth of the Internet. GIP members come from leading Internet-centric companies representing the telecommunications, software, hardware, and financial services sectors. Based in Arlington, Virginia, the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) serves as GIP headquarters. For more information about GIP, visit its web site at witsa.org/gip.