Dan Price (thwack) wrote,
Dan Price

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Accountable E-mail?

Here's my idea for combating unsolicited e-mail... Require that someone is accountable for any message before it is delivered. It could be implemented at the ISP mail server level, checking for accountability before passing an e-mail to its recipient user within the ISP. (Since spammers can use their own mail servers, it would be pointless to implement this at the originating mail server, which is why it should be done at the final one instead.) If the accountability field is not filled in, so the message can't be traced back to a human sender, the final mail server can refuse to deliver it to its recipient's mailbox. Hopefully, knowing this, spammers will either quit spamming since it's a waste of time, or be forced to take accountability for their messages, which would make it easier to enforce laws we might want to make, such as a no-spam list similar to the no-call list that telemarketers must adhere to or face hefty fines.

Maybe I'm just overreacting because I'm particularly annoyed by spam at the moment, but I have to think there's SOMEthing we can do.

I already have a decent mail filter in place that does a pretty good job of throwing unwanted mail into one place where I can quickly review the subjects/senders and delete them without even opening them. I wish there was some way to let the senders know that their messages aren't reaching human eyes at my addresses so they'll stop trying. But of course since it costs them nothing, they don't care. Oh well.

That's another thing that bugs me - I say "addresses" above because I have several e-mail accounts that all forward to one place. So sometimes I'll get spam addressed to one address, but the only removal method they provide is by sending a blank e-mail to them, where the "From:" will be a different address than the one they spammed. So what will they do when they receive a removal request for an address that isn't in their list? They'll add it to their list and start spamming it, no doubt. Some probably even do that for removal requests from addresses that ARE in their lists.

So anyway, for those I sometimes telnet to my ISP's mail server and send a message by hand where I can specify the From: address to match the one they spammed. At least, when the message appears to be from a reputable spammer (now THERE'S an oxymoron) who might honor the removal request.

But like all other anti-spam ideas so far, I suppose this won't work unless all the VALID senders make a change to the way they send their mail as well. What we really need is something (other than a filter, which isn't infallible) that deters spammers without any action on behalf of valid senders, or the recipients for that matter.

I guess if there was an easy answer, it would've been found by now.

And why the HELL do I keep getting duplicate spam messages through my RIT addresses? That started back in '98 or '99 and hasn't stopped ever since. Not all, but some messages come through as two copies of the exact same message. Same date, time, message ID, everything. Obviously a server glitch of some sort. Oh well, it makes the spam easy to identify. If I see two identical ones, I delete 'em both.
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