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War On Spam

It is a law of physics: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. And so it is that the rising tide of spam — the evil force that has taken over email — has caused the formation of the Anti-Spam Research Group (ASRG), a global band of supergeeks committed to ridding the world of spam. Here at San Francisco’s Hilton hotel, 300 spam fighters from 13 countries met for the first time “nonvirtually” to plan their counterattack.

How bad is the problem? According to ASRG founder and CipherTrust director of research and development Paul Judge, between 40% and 60% of all email traffic today is spam. What weapons will the supergeeks use as they wage their war? According to some attendees, technology is the answer: Place something in an email program or at the gateway of an Internet-service provider that forces a sender to identify itself as a legitimate bulk mailer that has received consent from the recipient.

You can join the war on spam by subscribing to the ASRG mailing list (asrg-request@ietf.org). One word of caution though: On March 5, 300 messages were sent to the ASRG’s own email list in a single day. Is the war on spam producing collateral damage?

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