NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Fighting Internet Spam

June 23, 2003

Microsoft is suing some other companies for a change. Chairman Bill Gates says that this month Microsoft filed 15 lawsuits in the United States and United Kingdom against companies and individuals alleged to have sent billions of spam messages in violation of state and federal laws.

The company is taking other steps to reduce the e-mail spam problem.

  • New versions of Microsoft Outlook and Exchange will incorporate better spam filtering software, including smart technology.
  • Microsoft is partnering with other service providers to identify and restrict mail that conceals its source.
  • They are creating a system to verify sender addresses, much as recipients' addresses are verified today.

A key to eliminating spam is establishing clear guidelines for legitimate commercial e-mail. Congress could provide a strong incentive for businesses to adopt e-mail best practices by creating a regulatory "safe harbor" for senders who comply with e-mail guidelines confirmed by a self-regulatory body approved by the Federal Trade Commission.

Senders who do not comply would have to insert an "ADV:" label -- standing for advertisement -- in the subject line of all unsolicited commercial e-mail. This would enable computer users either to accept ADV-labeled mail or to have it deleted automatically.

Source: Bill Gates (Microsoft), "Why I Hate Spam," Wall Street Journal, June 23, 2003.

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