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FTC Goes After Spammers 166

klaun writes: "Yahoo has an article about the FTC launching a crackdown on deceptive unsolicited email. Basically they are after scammers offering easy money quick, not the average 'get porn here' type of spam. There is more info at the in a press release at the FTC's website." TheGreatGraySkwid amplifies, saying that this story "tells of an FTC crackdown on Spammers, that had resulted in charges (settled) against 7 chain-letter ring spammers, and several pending cases. I know I could use some Spam relief..." The settlement, unfortunately, isn't exactly stern stuff: the seven spammers "agreed to refrain from participating in deceptive schemes in the future, or lying about the legality or potential earnings from any such schemes."
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FTC Goes After Spammers

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  • by geek00 ( 260622 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @05:38PM (#2996372)
    I think these senators don't comprehend the reality with spam; that is, 99% of it has false origin information and has an opt-out scheme that doesn't work or only results in more spam.

    However, I don't believe in making laws against spam. They'll always be outdated and interfere with legimate uses of email, since it can be very hard to define exactly what is spam. (Someone taking my address from a newsgroup posting and trying to sell me printer toner is spamming, but how about an email from a company I bought something from a year ago?)

    Adam Back [] has an interesting proposal called Hash Cash []. The idea is that if you want to send me an email, you have to burn some CPU cycles to compute a partial hash collision. I choose how many bits are required. Friends and family can send me email for free. I'll charge a few bits for the store I shooped at last week, and even more for people I don't know. If you're in ORBS or MAPS, perhaps I'll charge even more.
  • by crumbz ( 41803 ) <<remove_spam>jus ... p a m >> on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @05:41PM (#2996395) Homepage
    I had a fax spammer hit our Chicago office about a dozen times last fall. They were a discount travel brokerage out of Baltimore, MD. Despite repeated attempts to get them to stop, we had to resort to a cease and desist letter from our attorneys to stop them. Previous calls to them generated abusive language and hang-ups. Sent emails to the contacts at the FTC with no response. None.

    Maybe they will actually fund and staff the elctronic incident center, but I doubt it. If they won't deal with spammers in the U.S. what is the chance that they will contact overseas abusers?

    My two cents.
  • by Twister002 ( 537605 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @05:50PM (#2996466) Homepage
    You can read it here [].

    My understanding is that they are going after the chain mail and pyramid schemes, not trying to shut down all the porn email (oooooh, hot girls waiting just for ME!!! WOW!!!) So it won't do anything about the deluge of unwanted email pouring into your inbox, just keep people that are dumb enough to answer the ads from hurting themselves. Like putting nerf corners on the world of email for them

    I would rather see some kind of legislation that holds spammers accountable if their "remove' methods do not work. I think a "do not call" type of list would be better than nothing. Filters don't always work, no matter how well you configure them. Maybe a new version of the SMTP protocol that would require a secure connection or authentication by you to be able to send you an email

    --insert comment to the effect of "what has slashdot come to posting this type of story
    --insert comment to the effect of "if you weren't such a loser you wouldn't get spam"
    --insert comment to the effect of "jane you ignorant slut that's not what it says at all"
    --insert comment to the effect of "this is all the fault of M$ and their monopolistic practices"

  • by poot_rootbeer ( 188613 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @06:10PM (#2996578)
    I don't think laws against spam will succeed in having a preventative effect on the behavior, but perhaps they could have a punitive effect. Most laws are already like this--just because the laws say that you're not supposed to kill people, drive over the speed limit, doesn't mean you won't be able to do those things. But if you do, and you get caught, you're going to have hell to pay. seems to be /.ed so I can't read the Hash Cash proposal itself, so I'm going based on your summary of it.

    The problems I see with such a system:
    1. Requires two-way communication between sender and recipient to establish a one-directional message transfer. Potentially could waste more bandwidth than blindly sending out spam does today.
    2. Requires end-users to set up "scorefiles" to dictate how much they trust every sender in the world. At best, provides users with no more functionality than existing score-based mail filters/readers.
    3. Ties senders' ability to get their message out to the CPU power of their machine. Owners of dual-10GHz Pentathlon systems should not have a louder voice than the hobbyist running sendmail on an old 286.
    4. Spammers HAVE CPU cycles to burn--like most of us, their machines rarely run anywhere near 100% load. They will learn to send out their garbage in a slow,steady stream rather than in huge batches so that their machines can handle it--simultaneously making bulk-mailing harder to identify.
  • by kindbud ( 90044 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @06:22PM (#2996642) Homepage
    Yes, you can use the mail servers for this purpose. In fact, you can use any Exchange server for this purpose. They all accept mail before determining whether it can be delivered, have no capability to block recipients, and generate a new messages for the bounce, with the original attached. Perfect for all your spamming needs:

    mail from:<>
    200 ok
    rcpt to:<>
    200 ok
    Subject: pr0n served fresh daily

    250 ok
  • by smnolde ( 209197 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @07:17PM (#2996991) Homepage
    Don't forget spamassassin []. I installed this yesterday and it has caught every bit of spam entering my mail server from all sorts of mailing lists.

    Configuration is simple and straight forward and it integrates nicely with any email system. Personally I'm using exim to pipe all received email through spamc/spamd and then the mail is received by exim after the spam check. There is only one check for spam per email entering my system.

    Spamassassin only flags the email as spam, but it's up to the MUA to actually delete it.

    This is log output from exim+SA: 2002-02-12 17:21:35 From: Subject: *****SPAM***** save money for dank X-Spam-Status: Yes, hits=14.1 required=5.0 tests=NO_REAL_NAME, FROM_ENDS_IN_NUMS, INVALID_DATE_NO_TZ, REPLY_REMOVE_SUBJECT, EXCUSE_3,REMOVE_SUBJ, TO_BE_REMOVED_REPLY, SUPERLONG_LINE, FREQ_SPAM_PHRASE, FORGED_YAHOO_RCVD version=2.01 Sender:

    I'll soon move all my email users' to email filtered by spamassassin. This is just too damn simple.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo.