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No Federal Do-Not-Spam Registry For Now

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the what-me-worry dept.

Spam 324

Decaffeinated Jedi writes "The AP reports today that the U.S. government has no plans to create a do-not-spam registry in the immediate future. Why not? They argue that the proper technology is not yet in place. 'A national do-not-e-mail registry, without a system in place to authenticate the origin of e-mail messages, would fail to reduce the burden of spam and may even increase the amount of spam received by consumers,' said the commission." The moral of the story is: never try. See the FTC's press release or their report (pdf).

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Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9432739)

I am a Viking in going out to war
And I've got death upon my mind
As I was leavin' oh yesterday
I've got no fear in my heart

As the shores of my home disappear
I sail over the sea without fear
Dragon ships are charging through the waves
Just want to sail away, far away, into the sea yeah yeah

I am a warrior my mind is set to kill
Life or death is on the line
I am a slayer and you will taste my steel
I've got your life right in my hand

As the shores of my home disappear
I sail over the sea without fear
Dragon ships are charging through the waves
Just want to sail away, far away, into the sea yeah yeah

You are a loser and it's such a shame
That you're a fool and you don't know
That in a viking I'll walk all over you
And by my sword you will die

As the shores of my home disappear
I sail over the sea without fear
Dragon ships are charging through the waves
Just want to sail away, far away, into the sea yeah yeah

Thank goodness (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9432744)

What my comment is an ascii art ? No its a fp..

NO, NO IT ISNT (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9432764)

you fail it.

YOU FAIL IT! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9432797)

What your comment is an fp ? No its a FAILURE!

Obligatory Simpsons (5, Funny)

swordboy (472941) | more than 10 years ago | (#9432748)

Homer: Trying is the first step towards failure.

Re:Obligatory Simpsons (2, Insightful)

Orgazmus (761208) | more than 10 years ago | (#9432858)

Homer is a much wiser man than people think.

Re:Obligatory Simpsons (1)

jm92956n (758515) | more than 10 years ago | (#9433083)

To Bart: Well son, you tried and you failed. Lesson learned: never try.

Not yet ready.. (5, Insightful)

CommanderData (782739) | more than 10 years ago | (#9432753)

I'm glad that they haven't jumped in headfirst, I can't imagine how they could enforce such a list right now with so much spam coming from outside of the United States and from unknowing zombie PCs within the US. If they did create a list it would place an expectation in the public eye that the US government can enforce it, when it obviously (to us slashdot readers) cannot.

Like it or not, we need to come up with more clever hardware or software solutions like Yahoo's "Domain Keys", Meng Weng Wong's SPF (Sender Policy Framework) [] , or god forbid, Microsoft's Caller ID for E-mail.

Re:Not yet ready.. (3, Insightful)

Undertaker43017 (586306) | more than 10 years ago | (#9432828)

I agree with this completely. I am glad my tax dollars won't be wasted on yet another currently "unsolveable problem".

Maybe there is some intelligence in Washington yet!?... ...Doubtful.

Re:Not yet ready.. BINGO! (5, Insightful)

AtariDatacenter (31657) | more than 10 years ago | (#9432853)

Your message probably best sums up the response to this, and nothing else really needs to be said by anyone. If you create a list of email addresses and attach to it an American law governing their use, then someone from China isn't going to care one bit. The global nature of the Internet (which defies censorship) is also the same thing that allows for spam.

Personally, I'd get a little scared if they can legalize away spam. Although a different medium, if they go all-out for spam, it probably makes for a good sign/precident for 'other things' to be eliminated from the Internet. (Be it pirated files, porn, 'ideas that my citizens shouldn't be having', etc.)

But I still wish spam would go away, like everyone else.

Re:Not yet ready.. BINGO! (2, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 10 years ago | (#9432952)

it probably makes for a good sign/precident for 'other things' to be eliminated from the Internet. (Be it pirated files, porn, 'ideas that my citizens shouldn't be having', etc.)

I am certain that's exactly what they are looking to do. They do plenty of law making that is questionable but it falls under the guise of protection or something that is "good" for us.

We all nod our heads in unison as they wipe away the rights of terrorists because afterall, we're not terrorists. We all nod in unison as they give us national ID numbers because, afterall, it's so much easier to just use that rather than having this card and that card and that card, right? We all nod our heads in unison as they eliminate our rights to privacy because, afterall, when you're in a public place you shouldn't have the right to privacy -- you should have your every movement tracked by a central governing body, right?

Slippery slope.

Re:Not yet ready.. BINGO! (2, Interesting)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 10 years ago | (#9433178)

If you create a list of email addresses and attach to it an American law governing their use, then someone from China isn't going to care one bit. The global nature of the Internet (which defies censorship) is also the same thing that allows for spam.

This isn't really true, however. Research has shown that almost all spam actually comes from America. Much, if not most, of it is routed through either Chinese servers or worm-hijacked PCs, but the origin is still American.

The problem with this whole idea is enforcement. I think a "do not spam" list would be great if there were serious investigation into tracing who sends spam to addresses on this list, and then extremely harsh penalties for sending spam to people on this list (like a public execution). If there's no serious penalty when a spammer misuses this list, then it will only serve to help them by providing them with more email addresses.

And yes, I really do advocate public executions of spammers. Back in the colonial days, public executions were commonplace for serious criminals, and surprise, surprise, they didn't have a serious problem with crime.

Re:Not yet ready.. (2, Informative)

CommanderData (782739) | more than 10 years ago | (#9432908)

Sorry to reply to myself, but I figured I should point out for the people who might not already be aware that SPF and Caller ID for e-mail have become a merged plan in the last several weeks. Missed the announcement myself :)

I Don't Want the Gov't Telling Me What's Spam! (2, Informative)

Badam (222642) | more than 10 years ago | (#9432995)

I don't think there should be any government do-not-spam list.

Among other reasons, it intrudes on the right of people to advertise their political opinions, which is crucial to a democracy.

It's pretty easy to filter out spam. Bayesian filters block nearly all spam, and have the benefit of being tailored to the user's interests, not the spam definitions of the government (which will inevitably hurt those who oppose government policies).

Use Mozilla's mail application: It has excellent spam filtering built right in. If you don't want to use Mozilla, than use Popfile or Spambayes to accomplish the exact same thing: Bayesian Filtering that will nearly eliminate your spam headache.

Re:I Don't Want the Gov't Telling Me What's Spam! (4, Insightful)

geoffspear (692508) | more than 10 years ago | (#9433079)

No one has a right to advertise their political opinions, products, etc. by sending me email about them. The fact that filtering solutions exist doesn't confer that right upon anyone, either.

This is like arguing that marketing companies or political candidates should be allowed to send people to break into your house to tell you to buy their product or vote for their candidate, and pointing out that you could secure your house by buying better locks and putting bars on your windows if you don't want them there.

If you want to advertise, take out ads on billboards, TV, magazines, or even web sites. But stay the hell off my personal phone, fax machine, and email account.

Re:Not yet ready.. (1, Insightful)

dustinbarbour (721795) | more than 10 years ago | (#9433001)

I don't know about you guys, but I run a bayesian filter on my inbox and I simply do not get any more spam. I have never seen it misidentify email and I am more than happy with it.

With that said, I think the federal government needs to stay out of it all together. I mean, for me, spam is such a minor issue that I'm more concerned about the funk coming from my neighbor's garbage cans! Seriously, if the federal government wants to do something useful, why not eliminate unsolicited mail in my mailbox? I can't tell you how many advertisements and mailers and coupon books I get in my standard mail. That shit pisses me off more so than spam 'cause I must actually bring it into the house and throw it away. At least I can remove spam with a simple click or a well coded filter!

Re:Not yet ready.. (5, Insightful)

surreal-maitland (711954) | more than 10 years ago | (#9433072)

i absolutely agree with you. this reminds me of a situation which is currently in place here in boston. they have decided to start randomly IDing people when they take the T. clearly, knowing who is on the T at a given time doesn't prevent or deter that person from bringing a bomb on board. however, it gives some people a false sense of security. that's exactly what this would be: a false sense of security and, as an earlier poster mentioned, a bunch of valid email addresses in a nice little list for a spammer from china. oh, and of course, a waste of taxpayer money.

Wait wait wait... (5, Funny)

JoeLinux (20366) | more than 10 years ago | (#9432755)

I thought they had this now: Isn't it the "Opt-Out" thingy?

Re:Wait wait wait... (2, Funny)

mkeroppi (787650) | more than 10 years ago | (#9432849)

Only that the government will do it more efficiently.

Re:Wait wait wait... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9432888)

I thought the technique that worked best was "don't give your email to spammers and they won't spam you".

Re:Wait wait wait... (1)

AntiChris (778842) | more than 10 years ago | (#9433098)

Opt-Out? isn't that the link you click on the bottom of spam to let them know your address actually exists so they can send/sell your email address to all their friends?

Thank GOD! (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9432761)

My processed lunch meat business will continue for now.

But wait (4, Insightful)

s20451 (410424) | more than 10 years ago | (#9432781)

The moral of the story is: never try.

Funny, when someone does propose an anti-spam solution, people here can't poke holes in it fast enough.

So you want to hear these lame proposals so you can scoff at them and feel superior? Or what?

The real moral is (5, Insightful)

b00m3rang (682108) | more than 10 years ago | (#9432809)

Don't hand the spammers what would probably be the worlds largest distribution list on a silver platter.

Re:But wait (1)

neilcSD (743335) | more than 10 years ago | (#9433047)

I for one am glad that this never happened. Look at it this way - spammers are (almost by definition) unscrupulous, and will almost certainly not hesitate to abuse the system. "Hey Mr Govt man, give me the list, I promise not to email each and every one of these people several times a day!!" It simply would not have worked.

Re:But wait (5, Insightful)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 10 years ago | (#9433157)

Funny, when someone does propose an anti-spam solution, people here can't poke holes in it fast enough.
That's because 90% of the so-called "solutions" for spam have serious flaws. They usually end up blocking legitimate email and usually can be worked around by some means. Really, for ordinary users forced to endure some largely unaccountable sysadmins idea of what email should be, the only workable environment involves a combination of Bayesian-style filters coupled with white lists for known good addresses (to ensure they're not accidentally dropped.) For those of us able to administer SMTP servers, seperate email addresses for each entity that needs to contact us with no published permanent "public" addresses generally works.

The "solutions" we see posted from time to time rarely are as straightforward or effective. SPEWS type filtering blocks customers of ISPs regardless of whether they themselves are abusive or not. The DUL blocks by a criteria which has nothing, on the face of it, to do with spam, and simply makes things like configuration-free email an impossibility and roaming more difficult. ISP-lead outgoing port 25 blocking makes configuration-free email impossible and undermines user privacy. ISP-lead incoming port 25 blocking makes it impossible for knowledgable end users to deploy certain effective methods of spam block. The SPF, in an environment in which port 25 blocks and the DUL are active and in which ISPs rarely offer "authenticated SMTP" connections for external users will make roaming even more difficult.

And those are just the current methods taken seriously and proposed at every turn. Meanwhile, people propose all sorts of "solutions" like using encrypted authentication and even getting rid of SMTP which are about as easy as creating world peace ("All we have to do is stop fighting each other!"), and which open all sorts of new cans of worms.

In the case of this article, someone was seriously contemplating having the FTC create a Do-Not-Spam list, a list that wouldn't have applied to foreign owned businesses and one that would have, if anything, legitimized spam ("Hey, we're only posting to people off the list, leave us alone!")

When people stop proposing daft and damaging ideas, people on Slashdot will stop poking holes in them. Spam is a solvable problem, but an unholy alliance of BOFHs and zealots is causing immeasurable damage without actually making much of a dent, if any, in the volumes we're talking about. Interestingly, by-and-large, the solutions that work involve enfranchising the receiver, a principle the current anti-spam culture is reluctant to accept.

At least they realize that. (5, Insightful)

suso (153703) | more than 10 years ago | (#9432782)

At least they are smart enough to realize that it is not technically feasible yet. Score 1 for the FTC.

Re:At least they realize that. (3, Insightful)

ElForesto (763160) | more than 10 years ago | (#9433025)

I'm amazed that the FTC actually looked at technical feasability of such a system when forming the opinion. I would have prefered their decision also cited that private enterprise and individuals are both working doubletime on solutions. I've never regretted slapping SpamAssassin on my mail server.

Three words... (3, Insightful)

sohojim (676510) | more than 10 years ago | (#9432798)

International, volume, zombies.

Billions of messages are sent every day, the majority of which are spam. That's different than telemarketing calls, which require a live person-to-person (or at least phone circuit-to-person) connection. Also, even if volume wasn't the problem, the fact that spammers are almost always either outside the US or using compromised zombie PCs is just going to complicate things immensely.

Re:Three words... (1)

tekunokurato (531385) | more than 10 years ago | (#9432846)

I recall some recent reports stating that the majority of commercial spam in the US is domestic in origin, not international. I don't have time to look them up now, but you might check your facts. But I agree--it doesn't make it easier.

Re:Three words... (1)

The Ultimate Fartkno (756456) | more than 10 years ago | (#9432979)

The spam is domestic in that the *order to send it* comes from the US and that the fradulent services and defective goods they're selling are being sold by Americans to Americans. The actual spam, however, is coming from zombied pc's or dirty isp's that reside outside the US. Domestic orders / foreign delivery, you see?

Either way, Scott Richter is a douchebag.

Re:Three words... (1)

fred_sanford (678924) | more than 10 years ago | (#9433091)

Though I seem to recall contradictory articles citing either the USA or China as the countries causing the most spam, all I could dig up points the finger to the good ole USofA. [] []
Worst offenders: United States,, and Alan Ralsky

Re:Three words... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9433073)

"Billions and billions..."

Laugh! It's funny!

Knee Jerk? (5, Insightful)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 10 years ago | (#9432800)

The moral of the story is: never try.

Come now, michael. If it is most likely going to CAUSE more spam, its something that shouldn't be done.

Its a "damned if you do, damned if you don't by people with kneejerk reactions that normally hate everything you do anyway" thing, isn't it?

Re:Knee Jerk? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9433095)

The black hat spin on Slashdot is getting very tiring. I hope it is due to incompetence and lack of understanding, not intent, but it is just so overwhelming that I am starting to believe otherwise.

And Que . . . (1)

OverlordQ (264228) | more than 10 years ago | (#9432803)

And que the SPF-Zelots saying SPF [] is the answer!

Also que... (1)

DreadSpoon (653424) | more than 10 years ago | (#9432986)

Also cue the spelling zealots!

P.S. SPF [] is the answer!

Re:Also que... (1)

OverlordQ (264228) | more than 10 years ago | (#9433081)

Why is it the answer? If M$ created a piece of software that broke a standard they would get lynched by a mob of \.'ers but when something like SPF [] does it, it's OMG SO COOL

Re:And Que . . . (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9432992)

It's "QUEUE" for fuck's sake. "Que" is not, in English, a word.

FTC is right (5, Insightful)

sulli (195030) | more than 10 years ago | (#9432804)

A do-not-spam list right now would be a spam-me-now list. So many spammers are beyond the reach of the law at the moment that adding your address or domain to this list would be like adding it to WHOIS.

Good! (4, Insightful)

tekunokurato (531385) | more than 10 years ago | (#9432808)

I completely agree. How do you intend to enforce such a registry? People are forever insulting the gov't for creating unenforceable laws, and the FCC is right to hold back. You must remember that CAN-SPAM makes it a civil crime, while a national registry would make it a federal crime, requiring the gov't to spend money trying cases that obviously won't be won (and could also implicate a lot of innocents).

There's more than just a lack of proper technology (3, Interesting)

fiftyvolts (642861) | more than 10 years ago | (#9432810)

There is a lack of proper legislation. The fundamental property of the Do-Not-Call list is that violators will be prosecuted by the FCC and can be held accountable with serious punishments. Quite frankly the current state of things leaves much to be desired in terms of punishment for spammers.

Fist I want to see some good national anti-spam legislation; then I'll ask for a national Do-Not-Spam list.

Too Bad (5, Funny)

jumpingfred (244629) | more than 10 years ago | (#9432817)

They should have a do not spam list. It will kill off at least one segment of spam. Spam mails trying to sell you a list of valid email adresses.

With the open, directionless... (1)

clifgriffin (676199) | more than 10 years ago | (#9432827)

system we have to send emails, a Do Not Spam registry is just lame.

Email's biggest problem is that unlike telephones or most other internet communication you have almost no way of verifying an email's source or destination.

All pertinent information can be forged by anyone for any purpose.

Knee jerk legislation can't improve this situation, technology can. We need to rethink the POP, IMAP, and SMTP...there has to be a way to maintain compatibility while adding more checks and balances.


A good point (2, Interesting)

Foofoobar (318279) | more than 10 years ago | (#9432830)

They actually have reason for the rejection of a do not psam list; How would they enforce it?

How can you say who spammed you? Is it the email referrer who spammed you, the zombie machine that used the referrer or the person from Russia?

And how would they enact vengeance upon said spammer? We have to have a system in place first so that even the slickest lawyer couldn't wiggle through a loophole.

Re:A good point (0, Flamebait)

geoffspear (692508) | more than 10 years ago | (#9433139)

Yes, and while we're out it we should get rid of those pesky murder laws until we make sure no lawyer can get a murderer acquitted.

Re:A good point (1)

Foofoobar (318279) | more than 10 years ago | (#9433173)

Well using your analogy, right now even if we were to pass a law against murder, it would be impossible for us to catch them or prosecute them. Shouldn't we have a method for catching them first?

Otherwise any law that would be passed would be a joke. They are putting the responsibility on the tech sector to come up with a solution so that they can pass laws that will actually affect change.

Murphy's Law (5, Funny)

Networkink*Man (468175) | more than 10 years ago | (#9432837)

Spammed if you do, spammed if you don't.

What the... (3, Insightful)

jwthompson2 (749521) | more than 10 years ago | (#9432838)

heck is this:

The moral of the story is: never try.

This ignores the fact that a national 'do-not-spam registry' would provide a wealth of mostly valid email addresses allowing spammers to focus their efforts. Without an authentication mecahnism the registry is a useless list. This submitter is idiotically biased since he ignores a very valid issue that would give any straight thinking individual pause about such a registry.

Crypto to the help (Re:What the...) (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9432967)

you need not give out the addresses to would-be non-spammers, giving out MD5 hashes would be enough to check for non-spamming without revealing the addresses.

Re:What the... (1)

John Seminal (698722) | more than 10 years ago | (#9432990)

I think authentication is key. If we can get a few large companies and colleges to start only allowing emails from partners that have some authenticating feature, then others will catch on and follow the path. When it boils down to a few ISP's that are not responsible, and they are filtered out by most companies, they will have to change. But for this to work, it would require cooperation amoung many large buisnesses and schools to set a standard.

Re:What the... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9433039)

Actually the comment of "The moral of the story is: never try.", was made by Michael, the editor. But I still agree, he is quite idiotically biased.

registry (2, Insightful)

austad (22163) | more than 10 years ago | (#9432839)

If a registry is ever created, it cannot be a list that people can download. It needs to be a query system that gets fed an address or list of addresses, and returns whether or not each one is on the list.

Otherwise we'll just have spammers downloading the list and using that.

Microsoft's Caller-ID for email? (0, Flamebait)

Guspaz (556486) | more than 10 years ago | (#9432840)

Isn't this precicely what Microsoft's Caller-ID for email technology is supposed to solve? Did nobody contact Microsoft to ask them about licencing the technology for a national do-not-email registry?

Say what you will about Microsoft as a company, nobody can deny that they are serious about taking on spam.

Re:Microsoft's Caller-ID for email? (1)

AtariDatacenter (31657) | more than 10 years ago | (#9432898)

Say what you will about Microsoft as a company, nobody can deny that they are serious about taking on spam.

Oh. I thought you said they were serious about talking on spam! The first company to successfully break the spam barrier could be quite rich. (Assuming it is patentable or otherwise controllable, and people would accept that.)

I'm Glad They Didn't Try At This Time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9432857)

They need to wait until such a list is enforceable. There are laws in place now that devious spammers break daily. Without the tools in place to track spammers, a list does no one any good. Right now, having such a list would be a detriment to consumers as the list can be stolen and used by rogue spammers. So, whoever came up with
The moral of the story is: never try
needs to take a moment and think through the situation before they have such knee-jerk reactions.

loopholes (1)

Sinful_Shirts (784047) | more than 10 years ago | (#9432862)

The do not call list has been working well for me with phone calls... until recently. Now I get calls from people with heavy accents! I suppose they are calling from a different country? All of these spammers, email and phone, are always going to try to find a work around.

Re:loopholes (1)

PaulMaximne (746608) | more than 10 years ago | (#9433097)

Yes, I've noticed that the caller ID has started showing foreign phone numbers like Canada and these have been telemarketing calls. Can't enforce a US law in a Foreign country. I just never answer calls that I don't recognize. If it's someone I know, they can leave a message.

I guess international calling rates have gotten so low that calling from overseas isn't cost prohibitive.


Captain Subtext Transmitting (1)

hcetSJ (672210) | more than 10 years ago | (#9432864)

A national list of valid email addresses sure sounds like a good way to reduce spam to me...

This IS a good thing (2, Insightful)

SkiddyRowe (692144) | more than 10 years ago | (#9432866)

For once stopped legislation regarding spam is a good thing.

Think about how successful the Do-Not-Call list is right now.

"Hi, I'm not calling to 'sell' you something. I'm doing a survey for INSERT COMPANY HERE. There is an option to buy, but that's not the reason for our call...."

Right...I said 'Do not call' that means 'No calls'

Rule 1: (2, Funny)

wfberg (24378) | more than 10 years ago | (#9432870)

spammers lie.

Great the FTC caught on to that..

Now if only all those idiots actually ordering Viagra, Vicodin, larger penisses and mortgage quotes would get the message..

Perhaps a more viable option for enforcement would be sting-operations, where if you buy a spamvertized good, you the exact opposite of the advertized benefit. Higher mortgage! Smaller penis!

Re:Rule 1: (1)

mr.scoot (745046) | more than 10 years ago | (#9433004)

Hello. Is this LifestyleEnhancementMortgageandStuff? Yes, I'd like to order some Viagra. Sure, the slicer-dicer sounds good too. Umm..Ok. Yeah, if I'm buying all this stuff, I guess I'll need a mortgage too. Wait. Do you have paycheck cash advance? Great.Let's do $200. No, wait. Make it 300. I'm gonna need a sixpack of Naturally Enhanced Larger Penises. That comes with a bonus minipenis? Excellent. Erm.. Plain brown wrapper please.

Re:Rule 1: (1)

moofdaddy (570503) | more than 10 years ago | (#9433028)

You just have to have faith. I am sure my Viagra pills will arrive in the mail any day now.

When it finally goes up.. (4, Funny)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 10 years ago | (#9432874)

... I'm gonna report myself as '*@*.*'.

Please... (4, Insightful)

i_r_sensitive (697893) | more than 10 years ago | (#9432875)

No, the moral of the story:

Why pass unenforceable legislation which has a good chance of making matters worse?

For once it looks like a responsible decision has been made, lets not mistakenly equate that with doing nothing.

Imagine the screaming you would have done had they tried and failed miserably, or tried and made things worse.

The FTC got one right (4, Insightful)

Jay Maynard (54798) | more than 10 years ago | (#9432877)

Unlike the You CAN-SPAM Act, this decision by the FTC shows that they have two clues to rub together. There's no guarantee that spammers would adhere to the list..witness the fact that telephone spammers are moving their operations offshore to evade the do-not-call list.

The only way to stop spam is to hammer the advertisers. Follow the money. Penalize the folks who benefit. No other law-based solution will work.

Spam Map (1)

N8F8 (4562) | more than 10 years ago | (#9432879)

Apparently someone with limited resouces can build a map of the greatest spam producers but the federel government can't figure it out.

tax dollars (1)

ForsakenRegex (312284) | more than 10 years ago | (#9432882)

If they determine that something isn't going to work, I'd prefer they not do it, rather than spending tax dollars on what they believe to be a failed attempt. My stance does consider whether they are correct in their belief. It is irrelevant to them taking action on a belief. The first question that would be asked, if it did not work, would be "Why did you spend money on this if you KNEW/BELIEVED it wasn't going to work?!". If they're just being stupid in their belief, that's another issue.

Re:tax dollars (1)

ForsakenRegex (312284) | more than 10 years ago | (#9432914)

That's "stance does NOT consider". Sorry.

The moral is not "never try" (1)

Paul Neubauer (86753) | more than 10 years ago | (#9432886)

...but that it is better to understand a problem before foolishly misapplying a non-working supposed solution. It's great to do the right thing. In the case, it's simply not doing the wrong thing.

total waste of time (4, Interesting)

mabu (178417) | more than 10 years ago | (#9432890)

For the zillionth time, can we put an end to boneheaded ideas like this?

Almost all spammers are violating Federal law right now. A do-not-email list would be the most ridiculous thing ever heard of, and would more likely serve as a great source of addresses for spammers.

The problem is there is no enforcement of existing laws in this area. We don't need more laws; we don't need more goofy schemes. We need resources dedicated towards educating and funding law enforcement authorities on how to catch and prosecute spammers.

Slashdot would be the first to Bitch if... (4, Insightful)

Picass0 (147474) | more than 10 years ago | (#9432905)

If the US Govt. Imposed a draconian policy regarding spam and the technology was dicey or imposed on end user rights (such as no more anonimity) you would see the admin here go apeshit.

Michael also seems to think that whatever is decided in the US will magically become policy for the whole net. After all, if the US govt says you must comply with a no spam list, we must expect the rest of the world is going to suddenly stop sending spam. Right?

Commentary by Michael (5, Insightful)

Scott Richter (776062) | more than 10 years ago | (#9432913)

The moral of the story is: never try.

No, Michael, it's not. What they said was

'A national do-not-e-mail registry, without a system in place to authenticate the origin of e-mail messages, would fail to reduce the burden of spam and may even increase the amount of spam received by consumers,'

And quite frankly they're right. Additionally, it's not in the FTC's jusrisdiction, I don't believe, to change the SMTP protocol. As such, they do not have the ability to actually solve the problem.

Given the degree to which the FTC fought for the Do-not-call registry, I think they deserve more credit than Michael's snide editorial remarks. They also deserve credit for having the courage to admit that they can't solve the problem under the current situation and providing a damned good reason why, as well as leaving bad enough alone and not doing something simply for the sake of doing it. Sometimes, inaction is the best course, and it takes maturity to realize it.

Right now, setting up a do-not-email registry would be as smart as responding to the "Please remove me" addresses. In short, it would be absolutely stupid.

So let's leave the FTC alone, shall we?

Role of Government (1)

srwalter (39999) | more than 10 years ago | (#9433010)

I find it interesting to note the apparent opinions of the slashdot editors when it comes to government. Usually the slashdot crowd is quite gung-ho in the direction of "Government bad! Free-markets! Regulation is evil, leave us alone! Ahhhh, censorhip!" etc. But as soon as they get irritated by a few spam messages in their mailbox, they start whining "Uncle Sam, save us from the spam! We need big and intrusive government protection! Someone please think of the children!"

A most interesting duality, and it's shameful that they depart from a stance of pure self-regulation. It would be much more productive to work on real technical solutions to the problem of spam, rather than whining that the government should bail us out. Hopefully most people realize this, and we'll get real technical solutions, without having to spend millions of taxpayer dollars.

Private Industry (1)

enforcer999 (733591) | more than 10 years ago | (#9432916)

They are suggesting a fall conference with private industry regarding better identifiers in emails. Personally, I think that if there was a way to close down all open and proxy relays and educate dumb computer users than we might have a chance. Otherwise, I do not see what private industry can do. But then, I am not a computer expert.

my simple minded idea... (1)

John Seminal (698722) | more than 10 years ago | (#9432919)

"A national do-not-e-mail registry, without a system in place to authenticate the origin of e-mail messages, would fail to reduce the burden of spam

What is so difficult about authenticating emails? Is there any way to encrypt something which says where an email originated from? How about routers that do not forward anything without the correct authentication? It would take big companies and schools signing on first, and then that would force free services like yahoo to have to be more responsible. I think those free email providers make it easier for people to spam by forging headers. There has to be a way to authenticate.

Re:my simple minded idea... (1)

harley_frog (650488) | more than 10 years ago | (#9433040)

Yeah, it's called a Digital Signature. I have GPG and Engimail setup with my Mozilla mail to digitally sign all my outgoing email. Works great, less filling.

What an idiot. (2)

aardvarkjoe (156801) | more than 10 years ago | (#9432925)

Quoth michael:
The moral of the story is: never try.

Right, michael. Like you wouldn't have been the first to complain about how the government's antispam list does nothing if they had decided to create a do-not-spam list. At least it sounds like they gave the idea some consideration, and had a real reason not to do it.

I suspect (1)

mabu (178417) | more than 10 years ago | (#9433064)

"Michael" works the FBI or another government agency and they are bummed out that this bogus do-not-spam list would have given them a nifty database to cross-reference with all the other databases the government has been collecting on people.

The only productive purpose for such a stupid database would be to encroach upon the privacy and security of the populace. Spammers would never follow the guidelines. Unlike telemarketing, which uses a communications medium that is more easily trackable and regulated by the government, an e-mail do-not-call list would only serve to compile information on people that would obviously be used for less-than-honorable purposes. Slashdot needs to refresh their moderator staff.

The biggest problem (4, Insightful)

Rathian (187923) | more than 10 years ago | (#9432928)

With spam laws is enforcement. CAN-SPAM is nothing more than a sad joke without the staff and money to enforce all of it.

I have some asswipe forging my domain right now which is a form of identity theft. I could call the FBI, but who would bother answering my call. Forget the local police department.

Fact is that eliminating spam is a 3 part solution:
  1. Technical, make it such that it cannot be transmitted or very easily filtered with minimal to no false positives.
  2. Laws, make it illegal to send spam
  3. Enforce laws - Ralsky and others like him should hang. They know what they are doing pisses off millions, they are nothing but sociopaths and should be treated as such. Spammers should pay 2-4x the money spent to investigate and prosecute them.
It's sad, spammers IMHO are doing far more damage that Mitnick ever did or could. Yet they are not being taken down as publically or as hard as he was.

heh.. (1)

sxtxixtxcxh (757736) | more than 10 years ago | (#9432937)

it's too bad.. i mean that federal do-not-call list works SO well.

This is pure flamebait (4, Insightful)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 10 years ago | (#9432950)

The moral of the story is: never try.

GAAAAAH. Sometimes, Michael, you are the biggest idiot.

Did you ever stop to think that sometimes just doing "anything" is not the best way to go? Can we please give the government a little credit for not jumping in and just "doing something" to score political points?

Creating a do-not-spam list just creates a beautifully maintained list of people to spam.

Keep Federal involvement to a minimum (1)

arakon (97351) | more than 10 years ago | (#9432954)

... at least when setting standards with technology. the US Gov. has messed up technology enough as it is.

ex. See Cellphones.

Let some geek come up with the answer and get enough geek power behind him to implement it into standard.

Besides... the government can't even track down all those Nigerian email frauds, what makes me think they can be trusted with several MILLION more complaints?

what if... (1)

jardin (778043) | more than 10 years ago | (#9432961)

they gave spammers the md5 hash to every person on the do-not-spam registry. that way they can't find out who is on the list unless they already have them on their list.

High time for a merger of & the N (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9432970)

Oh, Yet Another Brilliant Move (a registered trademark of the U.S. Government?):

In an opt-out system without a Do-Not-Spam Registry, is one supposed to use guns to stop the spammers (i.e. shoot them on the spot or what)?!

Do Not Call Domains? (1)

Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) | more than 10 years ago | (#9432975)

I think a more problematic aspect of an email "do not call" list is the fact that it is so easy to get and change email addresses these days. There are millions of active email addresses that will be discarded shortly after they are created. I myself create a new email address every time I register for some on-line service or fill out some promo form. What might be nice is whole do not call domains

Re:Do Not Call Domains? (1)

sxtxixtxcxh (757736) | more than 10 years ago | (#9433146)

i read that last bit kinda funny...

"some on-line service or some porno forum...


The moral of the story is: never try. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9432982)

The moral of the story is: never try.

No, the moral is, "that it's better to allow thousands of illegal spam emails go free than block an innocent email." In other words, the attempt would be useless until all emails are authenticated.

Obligatory Star Wars (0, Offtopic)

Prince Vegeta SSJ4 (718736) | more than 10 years ago | (#9432991)

The moral of the story is: never try

Try not, do or do not, there is no try

One-way hash? (4, Insightful)

Phil Wherry (122138) | more than 10 years ago | (#9432996)

This seems like a near-perfect application for a one-way hash of the email address. Rather than publishing a list of do-not-spam email addresses, publish the SHA-1 and/or MD5 hashes of the email addresses. It's then possible to confirm that a given email address is on the list, but it's not possible to convert the list into a set of usable email addresses. Am I missing something obvious here?

MORONS! (2, Insightful)

king_ramen (537239) | more than 10 years ago | (#9433005)

All they need to do is set up a web service that responds YES or NO to whether an address is blocked. There is NO NEED to publish the list itself. In a single line:


which would return:

Content-Type: text\plain


Why is that so hard?

Re:MORONS! (1)

king_ramen (537239) | more than 10 years ago | (#9433042)

Actually, if they wanted free replication and caching they could distribute MD5 checksums in DNS so that you could create a ciphertext based on the e-mail address and see if it is in the (DNS) database.

Wait.. (1)

gphinch (722686) | more than 10 years ago | (#9433016)

Well wouldn't being able to identify all e-mail that is SPAM solve the problem without the database? They let junk mail go because of postage $ I believe, but what incentive would there be to not just block all SPAM (if there was an infalliable way to id it)?

The math of phone calls (2, Informative)

jfengel (409917) | more than 10 years ago | (#9433030)

There is a key difference between telemarketing and spamming. Even if you had a prerecorded voice message (which is illegal) these phone calls cost money, tune the tune of a several cents a call and up. Adding an operator costs more, even with the scams they play on their own operators. So it's actually in the best interests of the telemarketers to have some sort of don't-waste-your-time list.

Spammers, on the other hand, can pay as little as $0 (0 for you foreigners) by using open relays, zombies, etc. So it's in their best interests to hit everybody, even if they're not interested. Rather than miss somebody, they'll hit everybody. A do-not-spam list would only provide a list of verified addresses.

So "never try" is definitely the right response here, at least at the moment, since it will be ignored by the spammers in a way that the do-not-call list avoids. The only question at this point is, who hasn't signed up for the do-not-call list:

* Very lonely people
* Very ignorant people
* People with a higher tolerance for telemarketing than me

Unfortunately, this probably just thrills the telemarketers. They can't call your grandma (since you signed her up) but it means that people who haven't signed up for the list are more likely to be scammable. (No offense to your grandma or anything. I'm sure she's a sweet lady but statistically speaking the elderly are more suceptible to scams, and less likely to take advantage of technological solutions.)

The moral of the story (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 10 years ago | (#9433032)

Is pick the fights you can win. Right now, this isn't one of them.

Get the technology in place to make anonymously spamming people harder, and you can start thinking about this again.

Government uses common sense? Amazing! (2, Informative)

Jtheletter (686279) | more than 10 years ago | (#9433045)

That's odd, toothless [] legislative [] spam fixes [] never got vetoed in the past just because they'd do nothing to stop the problem [] - or make it worse. Wonder what makes this one so special?

Moral of the story? (4, Insightful)

geek (5680) | more than 10 years ago | (#9433050)

"The moral of the story is: never try"

Um no. The moral of the story is do not kick a dead horse. Email as it is needs a fundemental change. I mean, come on, clear text passwords over a network? You can sniff out 99.9% of all email traffic on the internet easily. Nevermind how easy it is to spam and exploit the vast majority of systems out there. Yes I know email can now be encrypted, blah blah blah, almost no one on the net knows what that means let alone knows how to use it.

I personally do not want my tax money being spent kicking a dead horse. They would spend millions on a system that's unmanagable at best when they could instead spend that money on developing a better email system.

The moral of the story perhaps, is fiscal responsibility. While not kicking a dead horse and picking their battles wisely they will save us tax payers a fair amount of money. This is probably the best news I've heard all week.

Do-not-rob-me list (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9433053)

"The moral of the story is: never try."

Geez, clearly you've thought this through and thus haven't given a typical, knee-jerk reaction. Nice.

So what's next that you'd like to see the Feds pursue? A national "Do not rob me while I'm gone on a lengthy vacation" list that all potential robbers must consult before robbing someone's home?

The Feds got this one right. But you didn't.

In case of Slashdotting (1)

WormholeFiend (674934) | more than 10 years ago | (#9433128)

Can someone post the list of spammer's addresses?

Why not vice versa (2, Interesting)

Dexter77 (442723) | more than 10 years ago | (#9433172)

Why does it have to be do-not-spam registry. Why not please-spam-me-registry. Just make spamming illegal to all addresses, but those that are in the registry.

Wouldn't it be a lot easier to make a law that would condemn spamming, period. I bet about 90% of voters don't like to receive spam. Why we have to make the effort to block spammers, when lawmakers should be on our side?
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