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Re: Proposed EU Directive on Electronic Commerce

  • To: Jan-Pieter Cornet < >
  • From: Dave Wilson < >
  • Date: Mon, 18 Jan 1999 13:09:34 -0000 (GMT)

[Envelope vs. Header label]
> ... but that's not under the control of most senders, and it needs a lot of
> recoding of MTAs before it's effective.

Normally I'd agree, but:

(i)  as we're looking at legal measures, we only get one shot at this, so we
need to think good + long-term

(ii) Spam is such a problem that it's fair to say that recoding and
reinstalling MTA's will happen lightning quick, at least among those who care.
Those who don't care won't actually break anything; they just won't get the
benefit of the new laws. (which reminds me - gotta install the new Sendmail).

In this context, messing with X-headers is likely an approach that will come
back to haunt us later.

> After this is settled upon, MTAs can start using "XUCE" commands or tags
> (like SIZE or ENVID) to indicate UCE to eachother, possibly saving some
> net bandwidth and cpu. The XUCE tag/command should probably be given by
> the transmitting MTA if the X-UCE: header is present, or if the program
> doing the ESMTP talk is a massmailing program. The receiving MTA should
> probably insert an X-UCE: header if one isn't present and the XUCE
> tag/command is given in ESMTP.

We're looking at a way to force spammers to limit their distribution. This
won't happen voluntarily. A legally-defined "grace period" where spammers may
use X-headers while they get their MTAs recoded has a certain appeal, but if
we allow just X-headers, we'll be stuck with X-headers.

I, for one, won't be recoding my primary MTA to allow legal spam. On the other
hand, once the controls are agreed, I'll be happy to pass a "How to spam and
not annoy people" document + associated software to any customers who want it.

Again, I really think that potential spammers should be *highly encouraged* to
use proper, "efficient" spamming tools, which comply with all applicable 
laws, rather than making it easy to spam legally using Outlook or Eudora or
Netscape. ("I don't care if your server can't cope, I put 'adv' in the subject,
so it's legal!")

> Another thought: since we're tagging anyway, do we want "categories" of
> SPAM? Like Financial (MMF spammers should set this), Technical, Erotic, 
> Illegal (MMF spammers should set this too :), etc...?

Labelling anything at all is a terrible idea in the first place, it's a
non-stop ride to the pits of despair :-) I can just about hack the idea of a
label that says "This is unsolicited and may be damaging to your server", but
only because spam is worse (just about). Labelling *content* starts to raise
the spectre of censorship.


----------------------------------- dave.wilson@localhost  Dave Wilson, HEA-NOC
HEAnet Limited, Marine House, Clanwilliam Court, Dublin 2  ph.  +353-1-662 3412

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