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Re: Proposed EU Directive on Electronic Commerce, Beebit [email protected]

  • To: Ragnar Lonn < >
  • From: Piet Beertema < >
  • Date: Fri, 15 Jan 1999 11:41:03 +0100

    If the spammers are forced to use a generic label, e.g. a mail
    header saying "X-UCE: Yes", or perhaps include "UCE" in the
    subject line, that would make server side spam filtering a
    breeze and that would mean most major ISPs would filter away
    to their hearts content, which in turn would likely reduce the
    effectiveness of spamming to such a degree that the whole
    practice of spamming/UCE suddenly becomes unprofitable. If it
    does become unprofitable, spamming will more or less cease,
    and we will get back the resources that are currently swamped
    by having to deal with all the UCE.

I sense a truly immense lot of wishful thinking here.

First of all there's a wild variety of user mailers,
lots of which don't allow users to add X- header lines.
Go tell it the developers of those mailers.
Sure enough, adding "UCE" to a Subject: line is a lot
easier and works with all user mailers. However, it's
*not* up to ISP's to filter on Subject: lines! And you'd
better not overestimate the capabilities of the average
user: filtering on solely the *presence* of the string
"UCE" is extremely risky, as you might well filter out
regular mail too.

Second, the EC Directive by definition applies only to
the EC [Member States]. But reality is that the vast
majority of the spam comes from the USA, and users out
there are in no way bound to some EC Directive.

Third, spammers hide themselves and cover their tracks.
No EC Directive is going to change that.

Fourth, spam will be around as long as people can make
money out of it. And that includes ISP's.

Fifth, when spammers would be allowed to identify their
messages with "UCE" or some such, it would by definition
become a marketing tool, and no longer be spam. Hence
people would *have to* indicate whether or not they
want to receive it. Which means that the filtering would
have to be done by the user, *not* by his/her ISP: it
might well even become illegal for the ISP to do such
filtering! And that in turn means such "legal spam"
messages would *have to* be delivered to each and every
individual end user, so we would *not* get back the
resources currently wasted on spam.

Now, can we please get back to earth?


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