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[P]
The spammers' doomsday weapon...

By SvnLyrBrto in MLP
Sat Jun 23, 2001 at 12:23:09 AM EST
Tags: News (all tags)
News

Yahoo news is reporting a new tool for spammers that might make spam impossible to avoid except by legislation. Instead of sending separate spam emails, it is installed on a server, intercepts legitimate emails, then turns them into spam.


Previously, I've never been a fan of government intervention in the spam war. I prefer to filter my own mail, use and support MAPS and ORBS (though ORBS seems to have disappeared), and have opposed efforts to shut down the blackholes. But a tool which intercepts legitimate mail and morphs it into spam would make server address, and even content, based filtering useless.

Would there be any option left, besides legislation?

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Poll
Spammers should be delt with by...
o Legislation... send the spammers to JAIL. 18%
o Filtering tour mail (yea MAPS!!!). 5%
o Ritual disembowelment. 67%
o Bah! It's my god given right to clog your mailbox with spam. 8%

Votes: 104
Results | Other Polls

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The spammers' doomsday weapon... | 37 comments (27 topical, 10 editorial, 0 hidden)
Maybe it will force everyone to encrypt and sign (4.00 / 2) (#1)
by GusherJizmac on Fri Jun 22, 2001 at 01:38:22 PM EST

If email was all encrypted, spammers couldn't do this very easily. Plus, it seems it would make filtering a little easier. Could be a good thing if major mail client providers provide transparent (but secure) encryption that everyone's grandmother could use.
<sig> G u s h e r J i z m a c </sig>
encryption no defense against this (none / 0) (#25)
by marimba on Sat Jun 23, 2001 at 09:14:36 AM EST

Since all this technology has to do is detect the beginning and end of the original message, and then place its message above or below that, it doesn't matter whether the original message is encrypted or not. It still works

[ Parent ]
No, encryption fixes it (none / 0) (#36)
by dennis on Sun Jun 24, 2001 at 09:22:28 PM EST

It would be a very simple matter to have your email software strip out the unencrypted part. You could do the same thing with just a digital signature.

Another simple solution: if my ISP puts crap like this on their server, I will switch ISPs and let them know why. If a no-ads ISP costs a little more, I'll pay for it.

[ Parent ]

If by 'simple' (4.00 / 1) (#37)
by marimba on Sun Jun 24, 2001 at 10:36:48 PM EST

you mean 're-write the client', then yes. I didn't find a 'strip out unencrypted' option in either kmail or pegasus.

But, more to the point, I shouldn't have to do anything if I'm already paying the ISP for the service. The only thing the ISP should do to email is deliver it. Period.



[ Parent ]
Poll Option (4.00 / 1) (#2)
by greyrat on Fri Jun 22, 2001 at 01:45:56 PM EST

'Ritual disembowelment'? Hell, how 'bout informal or even casual disembowelment?
~ ~ ~
Did I actually read the article? No. No I didn't.
"Watch out for me nobbystyles, Gromit!"

The thing is (none / 0) (#3)
by delmoi on Fri Jun 22, 2001 at 01:59:27 PM EST

With that system, I would get a hell of a lot less spam (the s/n on my hotmail account is like 1/100 now).

I'd also like to see those bastards install that on my mail server...
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
Same Here. (none / 0) (#8)
by id10t on Fri Jun 22, 2001 at 02:15:18 PM EST

This is why I love running my own mail server. The only way that this will affect me is if it's installed on someone else's outgoing server!

--------

"Still! `Old friend!' You've managed to kill just about everyone else, but like a poor marksman you keep missing the target!"

Admiral James Tiberius Kirk, ST: The Wrath of Khan

--------

id10t
[ Parent ]

It wont stop the regular spammers (none / 0) (#32)
by IronDragon on Sun Jun 24, 2001 at 01:47:28 AM EST

The service described sounds like it will only be availible for spamhauses with fairly strong financial holdings. This strikes me as a fairly small percentage of the spamming industry. The rest of the spammers will continue as-is.

[ Parent ]
Copyright law (4.37 / 8) (#4)
by ttfkam on Fri Jun 22, 2001 at 02:05:25 PM EST

Disclaimer: I am in the U.S. and my comment below will reflect this.

Wouldn't an individual's email be covered by copyright? Would a small copyright notice at the bottom open up spammers to litigation without further legislation?

Also, would it be such a stretch to consider public email in the same category as public snail mail? If anyone tampers with snail mail, it is a federal crime. Does the current federal statute refer only to the U.S. Postal Service or does it extend to any mailing service which operates over state lines? If the latter, then does it specifically name physical items or can ISPs be considered on the same level as Federal Express?

Hmmm... This brings up an interesting tangent. If ISPs can be thought of as postal entities, this would greatly clarify the rules of conduct concerning email both for public use and in the workplace.

If I'm made in God's image then God needs to lay off the corn chips and onion dip. Get some exercise, God! - Tatarigami
Copyright... (none / 0) (#21)
by darthaggie on Sat Jun 23, 2001 at 12:56:32 AM EST

Disclaimer: I am in the U.S. and my comment below will reflect this.

Because of the Berne Convention, your comments apply in many places.

Wouldn't an individual's email be covered by copyright?

Yes, since it appears that the processed-pork product is attached to in-bound mail. The sender may or may not have agreed to such behaviour. This is rather reminicent of M$'s "smart links".

It would be different if the spam where attached to out-bound mail, as the sender can be forced to agree to having their email modified as a condition of having an email address.

Would a small copyright notice at the bottom open up spammers to litigation without further legislation?

Not necessary, since applies at the moment of creation.

I am BOFH. Resistance is futile. Your network will be assimilated.
[ Parent ]

This doesn't seem practical. (4.00 / 2) (#5)
by Anonymous 6522 on Fri Jun 22, 2001 at 02:08:28 PM EST

What ISP would install such software on their own servers? Spam pisses people off, very few ISPs would risk losing their customers by making it more difficult for them to avoid spam?

Advertising like this needs to be made illegal. Sooner or later, some genius will use his powers for evil. He will create a program that will analyze the content of outgoing emails and insert genuine sounding product recommendations into the messages.

Sadly- I disagree (none / 0) (#9)
by xWakawaka on Fri Jun 22, 2001 at 02:15:51 PM EST

Given consumer's historical tolerance of ad infused content- I would predict that many ISPs will welcome the new revenue stream. The added revenue will likely outweigh the loss of a few "power users".

Sigh.

[ Parent ]
Ads (5.00 / 2) (#13)
by starbreeze on Fri Jun 22, 2001 at 03:29:36 PM EST

But why? I pay my ISP $24/mo for my dialup and email. If they're going to start feeding me ads with my legit email, I might as well use a free dialup and email. Or at the very least, free email. I think lots of people would have this view. I have no qualms about switching my service if it comes to that.

I can see this being used by a few of the free POP email services tho.

~~~~~~~~~
"There's something strangely musical about noise." ~Trent Reznor
[ Parent ]

AOL (3.75 / 4) (#14)
by coffee17 on Fri Jun 22, 2001 at 03:43:57 PM EST

Perhaps I'm off, but isn't AOL the biggest ISP in the US. It charges more than standard (21.99?) for bad service, and lots of pop-up advertisements. And people still keep signing on to AOL. Also, a lot of the smaller ISP's are looking for extra cash to not have to close their doors. If things just start out with a 2-4 line append to your mail people will suck it up. Likely they'll also be an opt out for an extra 2-5 dollars a month. And I'll bet that you pay more to not get spammed than the spammers will pay to spam you... after all, they have the discount of volume.


-coffee


[ Parent ]

Yahoo Groups already does this (3.50 / 2) (#15)
by jasonab on Fri Jun 22, 2001 at 04:15:54 PM EST

The former Egroups (Yahoo! Groups) has done this for years now. They insert a small ad at the bottom, or a link to a banner in HTML mail. That was how they ran free email list servers. The HTML ads are annoying, but the text ads are mostly out of the way.

This is fine for free email (none / 0) (#27)
by marimba on Sat Jun 23, 2001 at 09:23:54 AM EST

I don't have a problem with free email services doing this. I do have a problem with an ISP that I'm paying $45/mo to hacking into my email. Email should have the same protection as snail mail. Would you defend the Post Office adding to their revenue by stuffing an ad in every letter or bill you received in the mail?

[ Parent ]
Treat it like a postmark (none / 0) (#28)
by pin0cchio on Sat Jun 23, 2001 at 03:05:57 PM EST

Email should have the same protection as snail mail. Would you defend the Post Office adding to their revenue by stuffing an ad in every letter or bill you received in the mail?

I consider the ads that Hotmail inserts at the bottom of email I send to be like postmarks: they identify part of the path the mail went through. Easy to ignore, easy to find if you're looking for it. I wouldn't object to a small ad in a postmark; I don't object to unobtrusive ads that email providers might add, provided they don't break MIME (as AOL has done time and time again).


lj65
[ Parent ]
Headers are postmarks. (none / 0) (#34)
by marimba on Sun Jun 24, 2001 at 10:26:33 AM EST

Ads are just ads.

[ Parent ]
Horribly misleading and sensationalistic. (3.33 / 3) (#17)
by Estanislao Martínez on Fri Jun 22, 2001 at 07:09:41 PM EST

I agree with xWakawaka's post below-- the writeup is way overblown.

One further worry: do these emails truly constitute "spam" (Unsolicited Commercial Email)? Assume you are in such an ISP, and your friend sends you an email. Your friend's email is not unsolicited, and its content is not commercial (the ad, of course, is commercial, but the ad is not the email). Your inbox doesn't get clogged by useless unsolicited messages. The advertiser is not dumping the costs on the ISP, as with spam-- the advertiser is *paying* the ISPs for the use of HD space and network bandwidth. Users, presumably, would agree upon subscribing to such an ISP that they will get advertisements at the end of each email they get.

Thus, a lot of the rallying points against "spam" don't apply at all. I'm even inclined to defend the position that this is *not* spam at all, but merely a higly intrusive (yet legitimate) form of advertising.

--em

not legitimate (none / 0) (#26)
by marimba on Sat Jun 23, 2001 at 09:18:30 AM EST

" I'm even inclined to defend the position that this is *not* spam at all, but merely a higly intrusive (yet legitimate) form of advertising. "

It's not legitimate at all. It's a violation of copytight (in the US). Copyright is in effect from the moment of authorship, and the advertiser (if they knew this method was being used) and ISP could both be sued.



[ Parent ]
Did you forget the `IANAL' (none / 0) (#29)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sat Jun 23, 2001 at 04:46:04 PM EST

The advertisement scheme doesn't alter the content of the email, but the presentation. The advertisement should be clearly separate from the actual content of the email. Your invocation of copyright law is ridiculous.

--em
[ Parent ]

Yeah, I did forget (none / 0) (#33)
by marimba on Sun Jun 24, 2001 at 10:24:59 AM EST

But it's still not ridiculous. You can't add advertisements to a book without the copyright owner's permission. The WHOLE work is copyrighted. The same holds whether it's a book, an essay, or a personal letter. You're trying to say that I can take a book or a magazine, reproduce it in its entirety, add my own adds to it, and I'm not in violation of copyright. Go ahead. Call a lawyer and ask him who's right.

[ Parent ]
I forgot something else, too (none / 0) (#35)
by marimba on Sun Jun 24, 2001 at 10:31:09 AM EST

What's your definition of "content"?

Mine is "eveything in the body of the email and all attatchments."

Now, can you differentiate between content and presentation for me?



[ Parent ]
Legal in the US? (4.50 / 2) (#18)
by lovelace on Fri Jun 22, 2001 at 09:57:52 PM EST

I actually wonder if this would be legal in the US due to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, 18 US Code, Section 2701 which makes it a crime to intentionally access without authorization a facility in which an electronic communication service is provided. The only problem is that who decides who can give authorization. If the ISP can give it, the this is a problem. If each individual must give it, then that makes things better because to be legal, it must have an OPT-IN mechanism.

If you want more information about the ECPA, I highly recommend Bruce Sterlings book The Hacker Crackdown. Standard disclaimer: IANAL.

TOS? (none / 0) (#30)
by J'raxis on Sat Jun 23, 2001 at 10:32:43 PM EST

Would this law still apply even if the ISP's TOS/AUP contained a line such as this?
By using this service, you agree to allow the service provider to append useful promotional offers to your incoming electronic mail messages.
(Or somesuch nonsense.)

-- The Raxis

[ J’raxis·Com | Liberty in your lifetime ]
[ Parent ]

Poll... (4.00 / 3) (#22)
by darthaggie on Sat Jun 23, 2001 at 12:59:07 AM EST

Tsk, tsk, an inadequate poll. It's impossible to disembowel gutless creatures. Personally, I go for dragging spammers into the street and horsewhipping them until they can't spam any more.

I am BOFH. Resistance is futile. Your network will be assimilated.
Well.. (none / 0) (#23)
by mindstrm on Sat Jun 23, 2001 at 08:17:50 AM EST

Your email provider does not have to be your ISP. I'd actually favor a world where that's how things are supposed to work; isp's provide internet connectivity, other providers provide services.
I run my own mail server for a variety of reasons; this type of thing being one of them.
(Another being I can switch ISP's whenever I want).

10 or 15 friends/family, all paying a couple bucks a month, pays for hosting the box somewhere.


The spammers' doomsday weapon... | 37 comments (27 topical, 10 editorial, 0 hidden)
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