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Spam, Milord 342

Posted by michael
from the green-eggs-desperately-needed dept.
Your daily dose of spam... rjwoodhead writes "Hansard, the official journal of the UK parliament, reports on a recent discussion of spam in the House of Lords which not only mentions Monty Python, but reads like one of their skits." A New York spammer has been arrested. One account isn't scientifically representative, but it's a grim picture when you're showing a spam-doubling every 42 days. And an article in New Scientist suggests solving a puzzle, which is essentially the same idea as hash cash.
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Spam, Milord

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  • by da3dAlus (20553) <dustin@grau.gmail@com> on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @01:48PM (#5956352) Homepage Journal
    "Baked beans are off, all we have is SPAM!"
  • by (54)T-Dub (642521) * <tpaine&gmail,com> on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @01:49PM (#5956364) Journal

    Lord Mackie of Benshie: My Lords, can the Minister think of a name for the enormous amount of unsolicited ordinary mail we receive?

    Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, when I have a moment I shall bend my mind to that question.

  • by w.p.richardson (218394) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @01:50PM (#5956369) Homepage
    So one spammer gets arrested. So what? It's just red meat for the rabid anti-spammers, but nothing will come of it. You know, it's not legal to spam faxes either, but guess what... my office fax is loaded with crap every day!

    Why waste time with legislation? A more permanent solution would focus on the technical - e.g., changing the protocol to forbid spam, etc.

    • It could be like the war on drugs, that convicted mass spammers loose access to equipment associated with the dealing of spam, which would include computers, software, a whole slew of goods that could be sold at auction to support local law enforcement, as well as compensate for those who lost valuable time reading thigns like, "7 million singles looking for you".

      Isn't that what they do with other forms of computer crime anyway?

      Hell, a search warrent alone would put a spam business down and out pending tr
      • by (54)T-Dub (642521) * <tpaine&gmail,com> on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @02:08PM (#5956527) Journal
        Oh right, and the war on drugs has been such a success?

        Besides the parent has a good point. The answer is not through legislation. What is to stop people from hosting their spam sites off shores [sealandgov.com] where they are protected from the laws. Kind of like the 809 Phone Call Scam [boycottwatch.org].
        • While the war on drugs can be considered to be a waste of time, dispite what you do with the protocal, so long as there is a system of authorized e-mail, there will be spam.

          As far as creating a system where only authorized people can send e-mail... well lots of luck... how do you determine who's authorized or not? Perhaps we *could* weed out any-old joe setting up a sendmail server on his local ISP, but what's to stop someone from using what is considered to be a legit authorized server to send spam?

          I ca
      • by Dyolf Knip (165446) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @02:29PM (#5956705) Homepage
        The similarities to the War on Drugs are debatable. Spamming can be run as a one-man operation on a shoe-string budget, but remember that the vast majority of it in this country comes from something like 200 people. The sort of operation alsky runs must stay in one spot and requires a lot of equipment.

        Furthermore, the justification of a War on Spam is of a totally different nature than that of the failure that is Prohibition II. Almost all the problems usually attributed to drugs stemp only from their illegality. But Spam has until recently been quite legal and is now, as the Lords put it, 'choking the Internet'. Spam requires that the spammer be deceitful and intrusive to _everyone_ and actively waste their time, effort, and money. Plus the only people who get any enjoyment out of it are the ones directly making money off it, or think they are by hiring spammers. Drugs at least have the potential to be win-win for everyone involved.

        My only real worry about arresting spammers is, like any other law, that it's going to be used entirely on the innocent or small fry and the schmucks actually clogging my inbox get off scot free. Or that even if we clear it up at home, we'll just get swamped by spammers from Asia (moreso than already, anyway) or whatver.

      • The difference between a war on spam and a war on drugs is that some people like drugs, nobody likes spam.
    • I think that the laws will have a small effect. There will be a few big profile arrests, fines, confiscation of computers, public lynchings, etc.

      The real issues are the international issue and then the sheer magnitude of the problem. The individual States are strapped for cash. No AG office or law enforcement agency needs more work. Call a state communications commission and ask what they hear about... They will tell you that ALL they hear about all day long is telemarketing complaints. They are completely
    • by bugnuts (94678) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @02:34PM (#5956759) Journal
      Why waste time with legislation? A more permanent solution would focus on the technical - e.g., changing the protocol to forbid
      spam, etc.


      You get very few unsolicited faxes a day. Almost certainly, you have or had a business relationship with the fax-spammers, which means it's not truly unsolicited. You should fax them back (on the required number listed on the fax) and tell them to stop. No number listed? That's illegal, too!


      Without the legislation, you and others would be receiving literally TONS of fax spam a month (yes, you can measure the mass when using faxes :). The problem is the same with email spam: the recipient bears the cost of receipt. If we consider the anti-fax-spam law to be a good one, it should simply be extended to the email age due to the close similarities. Spammers have been successfully sued based on the fax laws.


      The anti-fax-spam laws are absolutely NOT a waste of time. You don't know what you're talking about.

  • by tunabomber (259585) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @01:51PM (#5956376) Homepage
    Instead of doing some random puzzle, why not kill two birds with one stone and have machines that want to send email or have access to other services do a small work unit for folding@home or something.
    • by mblase (200735) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @01:59PM (#5956448)
      Instead of doing some random puzzle, why not kill two birds with one stone and have machines that want to send email or have access to other services do a small work unit for folding@home or something.

      The idea is to authorize the querying computer by giving them a problem to solve for which the answer is already known. Something like Folding@home involves puzzles for which the answers aren't yet known, so if the querying computer avoided solving it and just sent back a garbage solution the host machine wouldn't know the difference.
      • Something like Folding@home involves puzzles for which the answers aren't yet known, so if the querying computer avoided solving it and just sent back a garbage solution the host machine wouldn't know the difference.

        Ah, but if the problem to solve were simply to verify the computation of an already completed packet you would be solving a computationaly intensive problem *and* adding to the trust for a completed packet (assuming the same answer were obtained).

        This would be two birds with one stone.
    • The puzzle solution seems to be a convenient one for hardware manufacturers- all of the puzzles would have to be tough enough to slow down the spammers and their 2-GHz PIII's, but then it would take the poor bloke with a 66-MHz machine 30 times longer to send his email.
  • by kiwimate (458274) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @01:52PM (#5956384) Journal
    New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer heralded the case as the first criminal prosecution of a spammer under New York's six-month-old identity-theft statute. "Spammers who forge documents and steal the identity of others to create their e-mail traffic will be prosecuted," Spitzer said at a press conference.

    Seriously...the Buffalo spammer was almost trying to get caught, at this rate. The reason they got him is not because he's a scumbag spammer; it's because he brazenly engaged in identity theft. That just happened to be a tool that he then used to aid his spamming operation.

    The article contains one or two references to the amount of bandwidth consumed by his activities, but so what? If it hadn't been for the identity theft, he'd be vilified on /. -- and free to continue spamming. Sorry, but I don't see this as all that encouraging.
    • "... steal the identity of others to create their e-mail traffic will be prosecuted,"
      well, if a spammer suses a fake return email address, a common paractice, and that address belongs to someone, they have committed identity theft. So it is spam related. I think its cool. this lets us trackdown spammer who are 'legitimate' , and thus filter them, and give the authorities a tool in which to capture the others.

      Does the owner of abc.com own all the possible email address at abc.com? if so, just typing random
  • Um, what? (Score:5, Informative)

    by bopo (105833) * <bopoNO@SPAMnerp.net> on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @01:52PM (#5956387) Homepage
    Blockquoth the Lord Sainsbury of Turville:
    We aim to implement by the end of October this year the privacy and electronic communications directive. This includes requirements that unsolicited e-mails may be sent to individuals only for the purpose of direct marketing with their prior consent...
    "Please send me stuff I don't want you to send me."? (Yes, I know what he means, it just struck me as funny.)

    Also, I know we're not supposed to bitch about this, but it's a slow day at work and I'm bored: "2003-05-14 16:11:21 Buffalo Spammer Arrested for Identity Theft (articles,spam) (rejected)"

    • "Please send me stuff I don't want you to send me."?

      Yeah, it's funny, but it raises a serious question: just what exactly does "unsolicited" mean in this context?

      • That you expressly asked for this particular piece of email?
      • That you expressly asked for emails of this type from this party?
      • That you didn't expressly ask NOT to get emails of this type?
      • That you expressly asked for any and all emails from this party?
      • That you didn't expressly ask NOT to get any email from them?
      • Etc. Etc.

      It seems to me that

  • by datavortex (132049) * <datavortex@datavortex.net> on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @01:53PM (#5956394) Homepage Journal
    here [mindspring.com] is a photo of some of the people in the Earthlink Abuse Department responsible for the yearlong investigation that landed the Buffalo spammer in jail. Today is a great day for all of us!

    The people pictured are from the Atlanta team, there's also a Pasadena team that is putting a picture together. From left to right they are: Tom Tatom, Kate Trower, Bobby Arnold, Beth, Milliken, Larry Fine, and Louis Rush. People in Atlanta not pictured include our team lead Erich Hablutzel, Brian Greer, and the departmental manager, Mary Youngblood. The Pasadena crew includes Laura Truchon, Kenn Wilson, Brad Patton, Brian Majeska, Jesse Kolbert, Kevin Phillips.

    Today is a good day for all anti-spam activists!

    • A great looking bunch of people. Homocidal maniac looking people on the right (That dude on the far right would be the right one to send knocking on someone's door), technical looking people on the left (the guy on the far left looks like every FBI wirehead in every movie I've ever seen), and smack in the middle, Beth, who I now want to have my baby. (She should block her email for the next couple hours as geeks across /. try to dig up her address.)

      What is it aboutt these departments that they all have an OB PIB (Person In Black) in them? Is there a new Affirmative Action law for goths and freaks (I say this, as the OB PIB in my department.)

      Congrads to all of you.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        She should block her email for the next couple hours as geeks across /. try to dig up her address.

        I'm gonna take a wild guess and say it's "abuse@earthlink.com"? :o)
    • Great. You've just posted their real names on Slashdot. Just how hard do you think it is for vengeful spammers to connect those names to email addresses?
    • The people pictured are from the Atlanta team, there's also a Pasadena team that is putting a picture together. From left to right they are: Tom Tatom, Kate Trower, Bobby Arnold, Beth, Milliken, Larry Fine , and Louis Rush.

      Hey, that's not Larry Fine! THIS [3-stooges.com] is Larry Fine! :)
  • by secolactico (519805) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @01:53PM (#5956399) Journal
    So this guy gets arrested. But not for sending spam, but for stealing credit cards to fund his spamming operations. Also for identity theft and fraud. Still legal to spam, it seems.
  • Techincal Lords... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by girl_geek_antinomy (626942) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @01:54PM (#5956404)
    Actually, I heard this debate on the radio late at night and I was impressed with the Lords taking an interest in something which as far as I know the House of Commons hasn't yet bothered to devote any time to. It seems to me a wonderful illustration of the Lords coming kicking and screaming into the 21st Century. Long may it continue!
    • I am pretty gobsmacked they even managed to have a conversation as detailed about it as that.

      I am kinda left with images of 70+ year old men sitting looking baffled in a half empty house of commons, prodding their neighbours and discussing under hushed voices what tinned meat has to do with these darn fangled computer contraptions.

      Though to be fair my granddad used to be interested in the IT market at the ripe old age of 80, and would regularly clip out articles about the likes of Cisco and Microsoft, and
      • by pldms (136522) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @03:03PM (#5957011)
        I am kinda left with images of 70+ year old men sitting looking baffled in a half empty house of commons, prodding their neighbours and discussing under hushed voices what tinned meat has to do with these darn fangled computer contraptions.

        Aside from the fact that they wouldn't be looking at a half empty house of commons (they sit in the house of lords) you've pretty much got it.

        The Lords, though often befuddled and (let's be honest) asleep, do have some very bright people and have prevented some of the worst excesses of the commons throughout the years.
  • by 91degrees (207121) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @01:54PM (#5956406) Journal
    It's good to see that they can throw in Pythin references to a debate. It's what makes us British goddammit! If you can't say "Spam Spam Spam Spam" with a straight face, in a serious debate, you have no business calling yourself a citizen, and especially not a member of the house of Lords!
  • by stefanlasiewski (63134) * <slashdot&stefanco,com> on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @01:54PM (#5956408) Homepage Journal
    recent discussion of spam in the House of Lords which not only mentions Monty Python, but reads like one of their skits.

    Well sheesh, where do you think Monty Python drew their inspiration from? Your nostril?

    The HoL discussions are pretty odd from an American standpoint (Hey! It's rude to interrupt! So quit it with your booing and hissing and here-hereing!), but at least most of the house is present during the debates. In the States, it's not uncommon to see a Congressman debating in front of a mostly empty congressional hall.
    • by meringuoid (568297) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @02:10PM (#5956548)
      The HoL discussions are pretty odd from an American standpoint (Hey! It's rude to interrupt! So quit it with your booing and hissing and here-hereing!), but at least most of the house is present during the debates.

      My bet is that the Lords are scared. They know perfectly well that Blair has an immense Commons majority and therefore could make mincemeat of them at a whim. He's already given them something of a bloody nose with the fairly limited reforms he's had so far. They face a near-absolute power that doesn't particularly like them.

      How, then, can they save themselves? How can they stop Blair deciding to kick the whole lot of them out and install an elected or appointed second house? Answer: by appearing useful. If the Lords develop a reputation for being honest, for always turning up for debates, for standing up for the people rather than the corporations or the Americans once in a while... then Blair won't touch them, because that would be a disaster for him.

      Personally, I think the Lords _should_ go, and be replaced with a proportionally-elected house, to complement the first-past-the-post Commons. But they're not all that bad as it is. That Hansard article was comedy gold :-)

    • Say what you want about the britsh parliment, but they got style. Boored with the debate? Put your feet on the table. Dislike what the fellow is talkign about? Boo on him. Time for a vote? Ring bells like a victorian firebrigade and walk thru one of two doors.

      It may be oldfashioned (the two sides are two swordslength apart I'm told, to stop the representatives from killing one another), but it works rather well at taking the will of the people and turning it into practical politics (as opposed to the will

      • Except that the House of Lords can't legislate.
        All that these "crazy" lords would be able to do is delay or return a piece of Legislation to the Commons. Woo - scary.

        The British government works like this:
        1. The cabinet decides on a bit of legislation
        2. The legislation gets voted on by the Commons (which is why having a parliamentary majority is useful)
        3. If successful, the act goes to the Lords. The House of Lords is made up of appointed members, who are considered top of their fields. (It includes: artists
      • by dipipanone (570849) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @03:38PM (#5957314)
        Say what you want about the britsh parliment, but they got style.

        Don't talk to me about parliamentary style.

        Couple of weeks ago, I was invited to lunch at the House of Lords. Not something that happens to me often. In fact, not something that's ever happened to me before.

        I actually thought about wearing a suit, and had intended to, but at the very last minute, there was a local train strike and so I decided that I couldn't be bothered as I knew I'd be travelling for ages.

        It wasn't until I get through the peers entrance that it immediately strikes me that I've screwed up. This is the oldest gentleman's club in the world, and I'm wearing a polo shirt and chinos!

        Anyway, the peer that I'm dining with shows up, and -- as is normal with British etiquette, she does her best to make light of it, telling people do this all the time, etc. and she hands me over to the usher to have him sort me out with the spare jacket and tie that they keep for these occasions.

        Anyway, as soon as I'm out of her site, the usher starts to explain his philosophy on the world. This is a guy who dresses all day in a tailcoat and bow-tie. He tells me that when it comes to ties, he's something of a rebel. He believes that gentlemen should wear a tie at all times, and when he comes across sleazy little shits like me who don't bother with good grooming, he makes them pay.

        So, when I'm finally escorted into the peers dining room, I'm wearing a dark blue shirt, a yellow paisley tie that should have been destroyed circa 1970, and an military-style blazer.

        I've never really understood how it must feel to be a homeless person, but it all became clear to me that day.
    • Well, I was in London right at the hight of the 48 hours 'till we bomb Iraq and I visited the House of Lords (debating some changes to procedures discharging patients from hospitals). There were more people in the visitor's gallery than on the floor (25 at most, and half of them were clearly asleep). From what I've been told, this is fairly common. The House of Commons on the other hand was a beehive of activity.
  • I always wondered... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by MeanE (469971)
    are the spammers increasing the amount of spam because:

    a)They are seeing an increase in profit with the more spam they send.
    b)They are spamming more because of black lists and the such.
    c)More people are just getting in on it.

    or are their other reasons. As a side note...does anyone actually know a person who purchased something from a spammer? Not I.
    • b)They are spamming more because of black lists and the such.

      This is it, probably. My 1998-vintage Hotmail account gets a veritable flood of spam, but MS recently had the filters improved and they cut out the vast majority. I don't know about false positives because what gets filtered is automatically binned, else I'd reach my storage limit in a couple of hours.

      Of what gets through, most is from one penis spammer and one porno spammer. They each send the exact same spam several times a day. My guess is

      • Of what gets through, most is from one penis spammer and one porno spammer. They each send the exact same spam several times a day. My guess is that in addition to the matter of filters, they realise that their spams are in competition with everyone else's spams. Nobody ever reads all their spam; at most, you'll glance at one or two then nuke the lot. So, the spammer's best means of making sure it's THEIR spam that gets read is - send many copies.

        Is it multiple copies from the same spammer, or is the "a
        • Is it multiple copies from the same spammer, or is the "advertiser" (and I use that word loosly) using multiple spammer to send the same message?

          Looks like the same one. The spam is always identical, the techniques for avoidance always the same... Obviously it's hard to be sure when everything these days comes via the Far East, but I reckon it's the same spammer trying to increase his visibility.

    • I recently read an article (lost the link, sorry) about the current goings on in the world of SPAM. Outside of the huge bulk-mailers like the Spam King, most spammers are not trying to actually sell you anything. They are creating huge databases of active email addresses to sell to new spammers.

      It's all these dinks who paid $39.95 to Don LePri and are determined to get rich quick that are the real SPAM problem.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @01:56PM (#5956420)

    One account isn't scientifically representative, but it's a grim picture when you're showing a spam-doubling every 42 days

    Dear Spammers,

    Please slow down your spamming to doubling only every 18 months. This will give Moore's Law a chance to keep pace.

    Thank you.
  • by joeldg (518249) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @01:57PM (#5956429) Homepage
    I am writing a SMTP server which has a plugin called "reverse" which goes and checks the "mail from:" address to see if it is valid.
    http://lucifer.intercosmos.net/index.php?display=h oneymail [intercosmos.net] it is not finished yet, but hopefully it will keep only people with real email addresses able to send email.
    And yes, it does store known "good" emails in shared memory so that all child processes can have access and know which emails are already allowed to send email.
    The project is called honeymail as you can set it to "honeymode" so that when a spammer finds it and thinks it is an open-relay they start sending and everything just gets forwarded to spamcop, Occams razor etc..
    Would love any ideas anyone has on honeymail.
    • by the-dude-man (629634) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @02:25PM (#5956678)
      Postfix has tried this, it almost works, but it takes a while for mail to be delivered, and if someone is using an open relay, it can very easily fail

      What you will need to do is to do a check agianst the first mailserver in the mail headers...however, this dosnt always work, because some companies place their mailserver inside the network, and then use a ssh tunnel to send to a mailserver outside the network...to prevent their mailserver from taking a hit.

      all in all...it COULD work, but some niftly little tricks are needed first.
    • by RFC, the server must allow MAIL FROM: , which ought to be used for a response to a delivery error.
    • Exim [exim.org] already does this. I have it turned on, and it does cut down on the amount of spam. The one annoyance is genuine mail that is unreplyable. It shouldn't be sent, but lots of things happen that shouldn't... Even groups.yahoo.com went through a period when it wasn't accepting bounces.
    • "mail from:" addresses are almost always forged.

      Your server could easily create a situation in which the forgery is not a random, non-existent address, but is mine, or yours.

      I've gotten spam and virii in our office with the 'from' line the same as the 'to' line, or the same as another user in our domain.
  • by Mister Transistor (259842) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @02:01PM (#5956459) Journal
    That is just too amazing a coincidence that that figure is also the answer to Life, The Universe, And Everything.

    If you look into anything closely enough, you can find a relationship to that number. ;

  • The best parts (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RealAlaskan (576404) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @02:01PM (#5956464) Homepage Journal
    Lord Renton: My Lords, will the Minister explain how it is that an inedible tinned food that lasted for ever and was supplied to those on active service can become an unsolicited e-mail, bearing in mind that some of us wish to be protected from having an e-mail?

    Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, I am afraid that I have not been able to find out why the term "spam" is used, but that is the meaning it now has. It is a matter that should be taken very seriously because it not only clutters up computers but involves a great deal of very unpleasant advertising to do with easy credit, pornography and miracle diets. That is offensive to people, and we should try to reduce it.

    Lord Faulkner of Worcester: My Lords, I can help the Minister with the origin of the word. It comes from aficionados of Monty Python, and the famous song, "Spam, spam, spam, spam". It has been picked up by the Internet community and is used as a description of rubbish on the Internet.

    So, at least some in the House of Lords:

    wish to be protected from having an email

    equate easy credit with pronography with miracle diets

    have heard of Monty Python.

    I'd say that they compare quite favorably with the US Senate, so far.

    [big snip]

    Lady Saltoun of Abernethy: My Lords, do the Government have any plans to restrict unsolicited faxes? My fax paper is always being wasted by people who send me faxes I do not want. I do not know whether they could be called "corned beef" or something, but I have had enough of them

    Clueless humor, I suppose, but humor.

    [big snip]

    Lord Mackie of Benshie: My Lords, can the Minister think of a name for the enormous amount of unsolicited ordinary mail we receive?

    I wonder whether this was sarcasm or more clueless humor?

    Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, when I have a moment I shall bend my mind to that question.

    Definitely sarcasm.

    • by blamanj (253811) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @02:21PM (#5956636)
      Lady Saltoun of Abernethy....Clueless humor, I suppose, but humor.

      But she has enormous...tracts of land.
    • by meringuoid (568297) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @02:30PM (#5956728)
      Lady Saltoun of Abernethy: My Lords, do the Government have any plans to restrict unsolicited faxes? My fax paper is always being wasted by people who send me faxes I do not want. I do not know whether they could be called "corned beef" or something, but I have had enough of them.

      Clueless humor, I suppose, but humor.

      No, actually quite sharp humour. If you go back to the menu of what the Lords were discussing that day, they'd just had an interesting discussion about corned beef, in particular when tinned, and how it can injure people. Link [the-statio...fice.co.uk].

      Lady Saltoun of Abernethy: My Lords, is the Minister aware that if, having taken off one end of the corned beef can with the twisty thing provided-assuming that you have not lost it-you then take a common, ordinary, household tin-opener and take off the other end, it is very easy to push the corned beef out of the tin without any danger to yourself?

      Lord Sainsbury of Turville: Yes, my Lords, I was aware of that, and I am very glad that that essential piece of information is passed round for the benefit of this House.

    • Re:The best parts (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ctid (449118)

      Lord Mackie of Benshie: My Lords, can the Minister think of a name for the enormous amount of unsolicited ordinary mail we receive?

      Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, when I have a moment I shall bend my mind to that question.

      Definitely sarcasm.

      It's not really sarcasm, as we understand it here in the UK. It's a polite attempt at urbane humour in the context of a debate most Lords would find rather perplexing, just as Lord Mackie's "request" was.

    • Lady Saltoun of Abernethy: My Lords, do the Government have any plans to restrict unsolicited faxes? My fax paper is always being wasted by people who send me faxes I do not want.

      I'm surprised to see this. We already have the Fax Preference Service [fpsonline.org.uk] which you can register with, after which it's unlawful to fax you without prior consent. It works well, too - as does the corresponding Telephone Preference Service [tpsonline.org.uk] for normal phone calls.

  • My Lords, ... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by btakita (620031)
    I wonder how much time they would save if they did not say "My Lords" and talk in third person all the time.
  • Look what I've been missing on CSPAN-2 all these years...

    My fax paper is always being wasted by people who send me faxes I do not want. I do not know whether they could be called "corned beef" or something, but I have had enough of them.
  • Good.. (Score:4, Informative)

    by the-dude-man (629634) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @02:05PM (#5956502)
    !!!

    I think we really need to start seeing more arrest with regard to spam...spam is getting to crazy and in some cases damaging levels. Just yesterday I had to hack up a few mailserv's tcp stacks in the kernels because they are reciving such a heavy load of mail (for approx 20000 users) that they were all starting to need rebooting every 2 weeks.

    This isnt the sick part, the sick part is when i looked at the postfix logs, there was almost 5, 000, 000 pices of mail being delivered daily, and out of this, over 4,000, 000 were being bounced because they satisfied the requirements to qualify as spam.

    Now I admit, this is more mail than most mailservers recive (this is a major mail system for a WAN, so it recives more mail than most --- and relays alot of mail for other networks ) but this is absloutly insane. 200 000 users are generating 5,000,000 pices of mail, and 4,000,000 of those are being bounced!

    This means, the average user on this network is reciving 25 emails a day, and only 5 of these are being delivered. and 20 are being bounced because of spam.

    Now if anyone says we dont need to throw a few spammers in jail for no other reason than just to make an example of them...well after seing this, you cant possibly belive that.

    My favorite solution to date is to find the top spammer....kill him...video tape it and publish it on the web and say the #2 spammer is next!
  • So that's it! The question and answer to life, the universe and everything...

    Q: "How many days does it take for spam output to double?"

    A: "42!"

    Douglas Adams would be so proud...

    -JE

    -JE
  • ahh (Score:4, Funny)

    by Joe the Lesser (533425) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @02:06PM (#5956510) Homepage Journal
    It somehow makes me happy that Lord Faulkner of Worcester knows the spam song...
  • by ajuda (124386) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @02:08PM (#5956526)
    Instead of making the sender solve some weird problem, make him encrypt the message with your PGP public key. Then the sender only accepts messages that are encrypted, and junks everything else. Not only will spam be cut down to almost nothing (PGP encryption takes a bit of time), but you will now have some privacy too!
  • warm... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mlknowle (175506) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @02:09PM (#5956533) Homepage Journal
    There is something reassuring about calm and respectful discussion of a serious issue; it also seems, from the text of the Lord's discussion, that the Lords hadn't entirley made up their minds about this issue - wheas in the US Senate, it is always a debate, never a discussion
  • Are pseudonyms equivalent to hiding our true identity, and criminal under New York law?
  • by Monkelectric (546685) <slashdot@monkelectri c . c om> on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @02:10PM (#5956545)
    Anyone notice the buffalo spammer article said the spammer used a cool million in bandwidth sending 825 million emails? Theres no way thats possible.

    If you generously figured 1$ per gig (in reality prices are a fraction of that), they're saying each e-mail was 1.21megs. If you go by more realistic prices, (25c/gig), you come up with 4.8 megs per message.

    If you want to work the numbers the other way, earthlink is saying it costs them 1.21 cents in *bandwidth alone* to send an e-mail.

    I'm calling bullshit on earthlinks "cost" of spamming. In reality I'll bet he didnt "steal" enough bandwidth for grand theft. (At my web host, 500$ would buy me 1.3TB of transfer).

    Wether or not spamming is legal -- THEIR network allowed him to do it. They didnt notice a million dollars worth of bandwidth being pissed away ? Earthlink Buffalo didn't notice they were a million dollars less profitable this month/year and go WTF? Of course they didn't, they're lying through their teeth.

    • Not sure if EL was claiming these as damages to just themselves but damages done throughout the 'net.

      If the latter, probably every spam was charged for multiple times. At Earthlink, at the backbone, at the recipient's ISP, and then at the last mile to the recipient.

      Don't forget CPU usage and storage space in addition to bandwidth.

      It may be somewhat inflated, but it all adds up.
    • Math correction (Score:3, Informative)

      by jtheory (626492)
      825M messages per $1M is 825 messages per dollar, or $0.0012 per message (not 1.21 cents).

      This number *still* seems inflated for bandwidth alone, even considering multiple cycles per email (as the mail servers retry failed deliveries, deal with bounces, etc., which obviously are a far greater problem with spam than with normal email).

      I would say that even though this number is likely inflated for bandwidth costs alone, to consider the total costs incurred by Earthlink you also have to consider space waste
  • House of Lords (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Shadow Wrought (586631) <shadow.wroughtNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @02:10PM (#5956547) Homepage Journal
    While visiting England many a year ago I had the distinct privilege to watch a debate from the "Strangers Gallery" (gotta love English names) about public noise laws. It was great the way they all insulted and belittled one another in pompous and correct language. Most of my anti-PC attitude came from listening to that session. What they said was perfectly polite and respectful. How they said it is where the fun took place!
    • I used to work in the British Columbia Legislature where I was privy to many a hilarious debate.

      It fascinating to watch the 'Honourable Members' skirt the line between debate and personal insult. In the parliamentary system, if the Speaker/Chair thinks they've gone too far, they can call them on it and request they withdraw the offending statement. Dysfunctional as the B.C. Leg is, there were never any duels called on matters of honour. But this exchange [gov.bc.ca] between Moe Sihota and Fred Gingell back in 1
  • by Johnny Mnemonic (176043) <mdinsmore&gmail,com> on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @02:13PM (#5956566) Homepage Journal

    Imagine if Slashdot read like this transcript.

    Lord Johnny Mnemonic: My Lords, do you agree that the original post in this thread shall be labled a "First Post" and condemned as such?

    Minister Cowboy Neal: Aye, and who will join me in moderating up all Natalie Portman posts?

    The content would be the same, but it sure would be lot more polite...
  • by b1t r0t (216468) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @02:15PM (#5956593)

    The first bit, right before they talk about Intenet-delivered luncheon meat, said:

    Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, I totally agree. These statistics on accidents are extremely fascinating; they prove that the British public can use practically anything in this world to hurt themselves with. It is understandable that there are an estimated 55 accidents a year from putty, while toothpaste accounts for 73. However, it is rather bizarre that 823 accidents are estimated to be the result of letters and envelopes. It is difficult to understand how they can be the cause of such serious plight. I agree with the noble Baroness that it would be helpful if people paid careful attention.

    Wow, over 125 accidents a year in the UK, just from putty and toothpaste alone!

  • by Ed Avis (5917)
    Distinguish between 'milord' and 'my lord'. The former is (I think) used only for continental nobles, France in particular. Same with 'milady'. Did nobody here watch that Three Muskethounds cartoon?
  • by sssmashy (612587) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @02:22PM (#5956649)

    Intrigued by the House of Lords?

    Check out this live feed [parliamentlive.tv] (in session until 4pm EST).

  • is like a Monty Python skit. For those who haven't seen it on C-SPAN, I highly recommend finding the next showing [c-span.org] and marking it on your calendar.
  • Quoth Lord Renton:

    My Lords, will the Minister explain how it is that an inedible tinned food that lasted for ever and was supplied to those on active service can become an unsolicited e-mail, bearing in mind that some of us wish to be protected from having an e-mail?

    This is absolutely hilarious! Not only is he calling Spam (tm) the food product inedible, but he's completely confused about how it evolved into e-mail! Har!

    'Tis true that Spam saved the troops in WWII, though.
    • Re:Hilarious! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by CormacJ (64984)
      You have to remember that the house of lords is populated by people who do not have to be elected and can and do serve a lifetime tenure there. Many of the lords are way past retirement.

      Think of it this way: Image the Senate populated by people who are all about the age of Strom Thurmond.

      Some, despite thier advanced age are very knowlegeable of thier topic. Some are becoming increasingly bewildered in thier old age.
  • by sillivalley (411349) <sillivalley@@@comcast...net> on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @02:30PM (#5956730)
    I tracked spam/virii on one hotmail account during April. About 40% of the messages were valid, meaning 60% were crap.

    BUT -- when you look at the volume, the size of the message traffic, I was very surprised to see that my valid messages were only 3% of the volume -- 97% of the bytes sent to that hotmail account during April were either Spam or viruses!

    May looks about the same!

    Namaste-
  • Perhaps.. (Score:3, Funny)

    by Realistic_Dragon (655151) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @02:31PM (#5956738) Homepage
    Instead of forcing a computer to solve a puzzle before it can send email, the user should be forced to solve a puzzle.

    Depending on how well he did, the e-mail could then be moderated - so that you could set a threshold based on the IQ of the sender.

    Unrated email (IQ 0) would still get through, but would be very simple to discard - and after all, who really needs email from simpletons?

    On a side note, would all non-English Slashdotters note that the proper English accent extends only to about 50 miles north of the Capital, and excludes the interior areas of most cities. This may help avoid confusion when visiting as saying 'methinks today is a radiant example of the beauty of the English countryside' to a resident of Hull would likley result in extrodinary ammounts of pain in the region of your genitals.
  • Seriously, the House of Commons is the only thing worth watching on C-SPAN. While our (US) legislators put me to sleep, watching Parliament in action can be downright entertaining.

  • I tried to submit this too, So Michael, how many people tired to post the news about this?

    Inquring minds want to know.

  • I wonder how much of /. bandwidth is being consumed by talking about spam?
  • ... the Lords debated another issue of interest to /., the Communications Bill. They're arguing [the-statio...fice.co.uk] about how they should deal with video provided over the Internet, as opposed to via traditional channels like broadcast or cable.
  • by bauzeau (128909) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @02:42PM (#5956826)
    Related to the discussion of crypto puzzles as payment to fight spam, it's interesting to look at the web page of the PennyBlack [microsoft.com] project at Microsoft Research, especially their Crypto 2003 paper by Dwork, Goldberg and Naor. Instead of using CPU-bound puzzles, they use memory-bound puzzles. The idea is that CPU speeds vary greatly between the fastest and slowest machines available today, which makes it difficult to compromise widespread acceptance of the slow but good machines AND control of the fast but spamming machines. On the other hand, memory bandwidths have a much narrower variance, which makes paying by "wasting one's memory bandwidth" more equitable among the slow and the fast. That's the approach taken in this project. It's a fascinating read (although, it has a bit of crypto, which could be heavy).
  • I cannot see that it helps anyone in any activity, including voting, to have their computers flooded with this often quite distasteful material.

    Is he referring to unsolicited email or a canned, pork product? Either way, it's a problem.
  • by MmmmAqua (613624) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @02:55PM (#5956935)
    Lord Mitchell asked Her Majesty's Government:
    What are their plans to reduce the growth in spam (unsolicited e-mails).

    Translated: I am receiving seven hundred penis enlargement and shemale porn spams per day. This is becoming difficult to explain to Lady Mitchell.

    Lord Sainsbury of Turville:
    My Lords, I hope noble Lords will appreciate how I move seamlessly from corned beef to spam.

    We aim to implement by the end of October this year the privacy and electronic communications directive. This includes requirements that unsolicited e-mails may be sent to individuals only for the purpose of direct marketing with their prior consent, except where there is existing customer relationship between the sender and the addressee. Consultation on the draft regulations started on 27th March and closes on 19th June.


    Translated: look, I'm making a clever Spam joke! Aren't I a hoopy frood?

    Just like the United States, we're planning on passing laws, but only rarely doing anything to enforce them.

    Lord Mitchell:
    My Lords, I thank my noble friend the Minister for that Answer. Unsolicited e-mails, known as "spam", now account for half of all e-mails in this country. In the United States, they account for 70 per cent. Spam, whether it is nuisance advertising or hardcore pornography is literally choking the Internet. Will the Minister expand on his Answer? Do the Government intend to follow the example of the United States Senate in introducing legislation specifically prohibiting unsolicited e-mails?

    Translated: No, seriously, the long-schlong pills and he-she emails are a pain. What are you going to do about it?

    Lord Sainsbury of Turville:
    My Lords, we believe this to be a serious issue. The fact that a European regime has now been agreed implements the door to bilateral agreements between the EU and other countries, which is clearly very helpful. The European Commission is keen to pursue that.

    There is now a big movement to stop spam in the United States. Twenty-six states have legislated and, although I do not believe that any action has been taken at the federal level, there has been a recent forum from the Federal Trade Commission on the subject.

    We take the matter seriously. If measures are to be effective, it is vitally important that the international dimension is taken account of.


    Translated: Well, nothing, really. I mean, if the EU does something, maybe, but come on, I mean, France is in the EU, right? How seriously are we going to take anything France is involved in?

    Lord Renton:
    My Lords, will the Minister explain how it is that an inedible tinned food that lasted for ever and was supplied to those on active service can become an unsolicited e-mail, bearing in mind that some of us wish to be protected from having an e-mail?

    Translated: Me and Ned Ludd want to know what these "e-male" and "interweb" thingies are, and what they have to do with lunchmeat?

    Lord Sainsbury of Turville:
    My Lords, I am afraid that I have not been able to find out why the term "spam" is used, but that is the meaning it now has. It is a matter that should be taken very seriously because it not only clutters up computers but involves a great deal of very unpleasant advertising to do with easy credit, pornography and miracle diets. That is offensive to people, and we should try to reduce it.

    Translated: Hell if I know. You really expect a bunch of pasty guys with thick glasses and technology fetishes to come up with a normal name? All I know is they say it's bad, so we should do something about it.

    Lord Faulkner of Worcester:
    My Lords, I can help the Minister with the origin of the word. It comes from aficionados of Monty Python, and the famous song, "Spam, spam, spam, spam". It has been picked up by the Internet community and is used as a descrip
  • Lord Haskel: My Lords, is my noble friend aware that modern fax machines are equipped to refuse faxes that have no return telephone number. In that way, many unsolicited faxes are filtered out. Is there any way in which the Internet system could operate similarly? For example, can the Internet service providers filter out e-mails that do not have a return address on them?

    (italics are mine for emphasis)
  • by Eric Damron (553630) on Wednesday May 14, 2003 @03:18PM (#5957149)
    "EarthLink VP of law and public policy Dave Baker applauded the decision by the N.Y. attorney general's office to arrest Carmack. "Howard Carmack's arrest demonstrates that spamming has both civil and criminal consequences. Simply put, spammers who brazenly disregard the law will wind up in jail," Baker said in a statement."

    Ummmm.. Although he is a spammer, I think the fact that he stole people's credit cards and identities may be the real motivation for the prosecution.

You can do this in a number of ways. IBM chose to do all of them. Why do you find that funny? -- D. Taylor, Computer Science 350

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