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AOL and Yahoo to Offer Filter Circumvention 264

Posted by Zonk
from the thank-you-for-thinking-of-me dept.
tiltowait wrote to mention a report on MSNBC's site stating that AOL and Yahoo are both planning to introduce a for-pay way to circumvent their spam filters. From the article: "The fees, which would range from 1/4 cent to 1 cent per e-mail, are the latest attempts by the companies to weed out unsolicited ads, commonly called spam, and identity-theft scams. In exchange for paying, e-mail senders will be guaranteed their messages won't be filtered and will bear a seal alerting recipients they're legitimate."
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AOL and Yahoo to Offer Filter Circumvention

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  • by Mrs. Grundy (680212) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @03:44PM (#14662345) Homepage
    I'm at a loss to understand how this will reduce spam. If I understand TFA they will essentially be allowing certain companies a pass through the spam filter in exchange for money. While I can see how this is useful in a situation like AOL or Yahoo! mail where the end user has little control over the spam filterparameters and is having trouble getting wanted e-mail from their bank or other business, I don't understand why they think spam producers will stop finding ways to circumvent the filter--it still seems like business asusual for spammers. I have my spam filter set up to let certain mail through automatically, but I canguarantee that this has not reduced the amount of spam hitting the filter. It sounds like they stand to make a decent amount of money from this and would rather make is sound like it's an anti-spam measure when really it is closer to advertising.

    p.s. I can't wait until I start seeing the 'seal alerting recipients they're legitimate.' attached as a gif file to spam in my inbox.

    • by MikeFM (12491) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @03:54PM (#14662480) Homepage Journal
      Afterall, I never get spam mail in my snail mail where it costs like $.40 to send. All those ads and various other junkmail are my imagination.

      Maybe they should do it auction style like Google with the profits split between the users and the companies. Let the advertisers set the most they're willing to spend per message and users set the least they're willing to make per spam message they get.

      I'd maybe go for that. Anyone willing to give me $1 a message to read their ad I'll be willing to see what they have to say.
      • It's called MYPOINTS... mypoints.com I already do it :)
        • Yeah, but that is actually a pain and last time I checked (more involved than just opening the message and looking at it) and didn't pay you $1 per message. My mother does that and gets crappy little gift cards worth a fraction of the money she could earn in a job working the same number of hours. She could earn more spending that time writing random things down in a blog and collecting ad money from the site.

      • Let the advertisers set the most they're willing to spend per message and users set the least they're willing to make per spam message they get.


        I actually like that idea. You'd run into some problems though with people "spam farming" though. What's to prevent someone from creating 10,000 mailboxes, setting the "spam me" bar low, and then writing a script to "read" each message and get part of the profits? I suppose the pay-spammers would have to be selective about who they send out mail to, since a lot
        • You'd probably want to, at random intervals, ask for the user to fill in a captcha or something similar to that. Maybe more often for higher paying messages.

          It'd be nice to flip the spam problem on it's ear though where it was the spammer that had to be careful of who they were spamming. Let them be careful and send out messages to smaller more targeted groups.

          Google, with GMail's collection of information about the owners of the accounts would be good at targeting those messages.
          • Now that is what we need...a captcha for READING spam.

            Even better, the spammers could create their own captchas by stealing them from other sites with captchas. Make the user fill them out and then they get both someone reading their mail AND someone crunching catchas for them.

        • I'd call that a taste of their own medicine.
      • I wonder how long it will take before spammers will start scaming that their spam is "AOL certified" :)
        • The one that is annoying me mostly lately is phishing attacks trying to get into my eBay account. They send messages that look almost legit and close enough to things I actually do on eBay that if I wasn't a paranoid techie person I might have been tricked. It's almost to the point where a company can't send email to it's customers for risk that spammers and phishers will use that as a means to their ends.
          • They almost tricked me with PayPal "request to update account information" - still bothering me from my first (and only) paypal transaction..
            good thing i'm using gmail - it detects faked sender emails, and labels it as spam

            actually, gmail is doing alot more to protect me from these phishers than paypal itself - the only response i get from paypal when submiting phishing report is automated reply message.
      • Afterall, I never get spam mail in my snail mail where it costs like $.40 to send. All those ads and various other junkmail are my imagination.

        Actually, it only costs them 4.5 cents to send you junk mail via the USPS. It costs non-profits about the same as well.

        Only the peasants in Soviet America pay 39 cents to send letters. Businesses pay one-tenth the amount.
        • Only the peasants in Soviet America pay 39 cents to send letters. Businesses pay one-tenth the amount.

          Are you uninformed or a troll? To get discouts on bulk-mailings business jump through a bunch of hoops like presorting, bundling, and barcoding their own mail. These mailings also aren't sent First Class. Essentially, the bulk mailers are saving USPS work, and USPS is rewarding them with an appropriately lower rate.

          If you care to inform yourself [usps.com]
          • well, there are these things called 'postage meters' you put a sealed envelope on a scale/printer combo, and press a button and you pay the postage for the EXACT weight. 39 cents is for a full OUNCE of non-presorted mail. meters are available to anyone, there are websites that sell the devices... and you can 'refil' their postage over the internet. (they can only print a metered amount if they have an account with sufficient funds to deduct from to print the postage mark) you can send the mail un-presorted
    • I just can't quite imagine many banks paying to send alerts and reminders and ads to their existing customers. Sure as shooting they'd pass it on if they had to, but they'd rather just ignore it altogether and let the customer complain to the ISP if mail doesn't arrive.

      If no bank or any legitimate emailer is going to pay it, who will?

      I just can't see anybody paying this.
      • by Thud457 (234763) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @04:05PM (#14662594) Homepage Journal
        I can't forsee any problems with this half-baked moneygrubbing scheme.

        "But AOL certified that that email from the widow of the Nigerian President was real! Now all my financial base are belong to them. :-( "

      • If it's as cheap or cheaper than sending snail mail and would get past spam filters I think companies would do it.
    • In the UBE industry, spam is viewed differently than it is here on slashdot. Whereas we consider Spam any unsolicited ad, spam is considered email that does not follow the rules of CANSPAM in the industry -- that is it doesn't allow opt-outs, emails come from scrapes, etc. What this fee does is it allows companies that follow optout and other rules to get inbox delivery for a fee. Further, because the cost goes from about $0.00001 per message to around $0.0025-$0.01 per message for that delivery, the mar
      • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @04:35PM (#14662932)
        In the UBE industry, spam is viewed differently than it is here on slashdot.
        Yep. They love it, we hate it.
        Whereas we consider Spam any unsolicited ad, spam is considered email that does not follow the rules of CANSPAM in the industry -- that is it doesn't allow opt-outs, emails come from scrapes, etc.
        Yep. Those are also included in the "spam" usage for me.

        But companies who are legit would not be doing that in the first place, right?

        If I block all zombie emailers from my users, then offer companies access to my users for a fee, as long as they don't use zombies ... there's no benefit for the legit companies.
        What this fee does is it allows companies that follow optout and other rules to get inbox delivery for a fee.
        And those companies are already the ones least likely to be blocked.
        Further, because the cost goes from about $0.00001 per message to around $0.0025-$0.01 per message for that delivery, the marketer has incentive to target his list more carefully rather than just blasting everybody in sight.
        AGAIN, the legit companies do NOT do that ALREADY.
        This also gets rid of some of the crappier ads, as the marketer is going to pass the $10,000 fee on to the advertiser.
        Nope. Because the company/person most likely to send out those crappy ads will still send them and just try to get around the filters.

        This will not cut down on the crappy ads.

        This is nothing more than the ISP's attempt to sell access to their users.

        If you're running a smart company's ads, then you already take precautions against being blocked/blacklisted.
    • by Enigma_Man (756516) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @04:04PM (#14662586) Homepage

      At least it will make filtering out spam easier, just filter out anything with the "seal of approval".

      -Jesse
    • It will stop spam because it will make money for Yahoo and Microsoft. It's called the STFU factor, sometimes referred to as "LA, LA, LA! I'M MAKING MONEY SO I CAN'T HEAR YOU!"

      p.s. I can't wait until I start seeing the 'seal alerting recipients they're legitimate.' attached as a gif file to spam in my inbox.

      I can't wait for the first poor sod to be joe jobbed under this scheme and get charged for a dozen emails sent to the population of China.

    • If you have to pay to send e-mails, then you have to use electronic payment systems. Presumably, some guy who sends a million e-mails can have his real identity figured out. Then he can be punished under CAN-SPAM. It's not the money, but the fact you have to sign on and be responsible (in the ideal implementation). It can be a penny an e-mail, but if you have to use your credit card to buy all of the credit, then it really limits how much e-mail you can spam out.
    • by Russ Nelson (33911) <slashdot@russnelson.com> on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @04:38PM (#14662960) Homepage
      The way this will reduce spam is that it will allow AOL and Yahoo to make their filtering more aggressive. Since more email will be identifiable as opt-in (because it has a Goodmail Systems signature), AOL and Yahoo will have a lessened risk of false positive matches. The reason the senders are willing to pay to evade the filters is that they're ALREADY doing that, by being forced to craft their messages so they don't look like spam.

      Goodmail Systems doesn't want to see its business destroyed, so it will keep very close track of whose emails generate complaints. If they get too many complaints, they will refuse to sign further messages from that company.

      Disclaimer: I have consulted for Goodmail Systems' qmail implementation, and they paid me money for my software. They didn't pay me to tell the truth about what they're doing. That I'm doing because I'm a Quaker.
      -russ
    • I'm at a loss to understand how this will reduce spam.

      Well... the "paid for" email will have a marker attached to it.

      So... you filter for the marker... and put it all in the trash.

      Spam reduced!
    • I swear to God, if I see spam with this seal in the headers, I'm switching ISPs.
    • Very simple.

      Since Yahoo and AOL will be getting a cut of the spammers profits, they will no longer consider it and classify it as spam. Isn't that brilliant?

    • > I'm at a loss to understand how this will reduce spam.

      Like you, I don't believe it will. However, AOL and yahoo can now make some money off those viagra and home mortgage companies who use this "service".

      Spammer spends 100,000 emails x 1/4 = 25,000 USD for AOL/yahoo. Spammer generates 1,000 sales x $40/product = $40,000 - $25,000 = $15,000 profit!

      It's a win win scenario for both parties. IMO, it's just a commercial way of filtering out those spammers who won't pay to play...

  • by tiltowait (306189) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @03:44PM (#14662349) Homepage Journal
    See Antispam group rejects e-mail payment plan [com.com] for more reactions.

    I had to read the story twice before realizing it wasn't a hoax [snopes.com].

    While charging for reliably sending e-mail may be a good way to fight spam, putting the onus on the sender to pay isn't that great an idea.

    I run an opt-in, non-profit, ad-free announcement list [tk421.net], for example. I just checked and there are 521 AOL and Yahoo addresses subscribed. I'm not going to pay $5 a day to reach those people!

    I don't know how AOL filters work, but ideally a user could whitelist an address. But the pay-for-bypass method seems designed around reaching users that *don't* specify they want the "priority" spam.

    Just how many boxes of this checklist [craphound.com] does this plan grossly violate?
    • I just checked and there are 521 AOL and Yahoo addresses subscribed. I'm not going to pay $5 a day to reach those people!

      Since this story is a dupe of this one [slashdot.org], I'll ask the same question I asked in that thread: Why do you think this is your problem? Don't pay. If they want to receive your newsletter, they'll get AOL and Yahoo to let you through for free, or they'll move elsewhere. It's not your problem.

      And so as not to be redundant, I'll add something new:

      This is not necessarily a bad thing. Sure, the
      • Monopoly (Score:2, Informative)

        by tepples (727027)

        If they want to receive your newsletter, they'll get AOL and Yahoo to let you through for free, or they'll move elsewhere.

        Customers can't always move elsewhere without actually moving elsewhere. In many places, the only broadband provider is RoadRunner (owned by same corporate parent as AOL) or SBC (who has partnered with Yahoo!). AOL's dial-up coverage also tends to be better than other nationwide ISPs, which is important to users who travel far from public wireless hotspots.

    • Let's find out:

      -----

      Your post advocates a

      ( ) technical ( ) legislative (x) market-based ( ) vigilante

      approach to fighting spam. Your idea will not work. Here is why it won't work. (One or more of the following may apply to your particular idea, and it may have other flaws which used to vary from state to state before a bad federal law was passed.)

      ( ) Spammers can easily use it to harvest email addresses
      (x) Mailing lists and other legitimate email uses would be affected
      (x) No one will be able to find the guy or collect the money
      ( ) It is defenseless against brute force attacks
      ( ) It will stop spam for two weeks and then we'll be stuck with it
      (x) Users of email will not put up with it
      ( ) Microsoft will not put up with it
      ( ) The police will not put up with it
      ( ) Requires too much cooperation from spammers
      ( ) Requires immediate total cooperation from everybody at once
      (x) Many email users cannot afford to lose business or alienate potential employers
      ( ) Spammers don't care about invalid addresses in their lists
      ( ) Anyone could anonymously destroy anyone else's career or business

      Specifically, your plan fails to account for

      ( ) Laws expressly prohibiting it
      ( ) Lack of centrally controlling authority for email
      (x) Open relays in foreign countries
      ( ) Ease of searching tiny alphanumeric address space of all email addresses
      ( ) Asshats
      (x) Jurisdictional problems
      (x) Unpopularity of weird new taxes
      ( ) Public reluctance to accept weird new forms of money
      ( ) Huge existing software investment in SMTP
      ( ) Susceptibility of protocols other than SMTP to attack
      ( ) Willingness of users to install OS patches received by email
      ( ) Armies of worm riddled broadband-connected Windows boxes
      ( ) Eternal arms race involved in all filtering approaches
      (x) Extreme profitability of spam
      ( ) Joe jobs and/or identity theft
      ( ) Technically illiterate politicians
      ( ) Extreme stupidity on the part of people who do business with spammers
      ( ) Dishonesty on the part of spammers themselves
      ( ) Bandwidth costs that are unaffected by client filtering
      ( ) Outlook

      and the following philosophical objections may also apply:

      (x) Ideas similar to yours are easy to come up with, yet none have ever
      been shown practical
      ( ) Any scheme based on opt-out is unacceptable
      ( ) SMTP headers should not be the subject of legislation
      ( ) Blacklists suck
      ( ) Whitelists suck
      ( ) We should be able to talk about Viagra without being censored
      ( ) Countermeasures should not involve wire fraud or credit card fraud
      ( ) Countermeasures should not involve sabotage of public networks
      ( ) Countermeasures must work if phased in gradually
      (x) Sending email should be free
      ( ) Why should we have to trust you and your servers?
      ( ) Incompatiblity with open source or open source licenses
      ( ) Feel-good measures do nothing to solve the problem
      ( ) Temporary/one-time email addresses are cumbersome
      ( ) I don't want the government reading my email
      ( ) Killing them that way is not slow and painful enough

      Furthermore, this is what I think about you:

      (x) Sorry dude, but I don't think it would work.
      ( ) This is a stupid idea, and you're a stupid person for suggesting it.
      ( ) Nice try, assh0le! I'm going to find out where you live and burn your
      house down!
    • Slippery slope implies situations where one can experience unintended consequences that are hard to reverse.

      This is more like an escalator. We're going to end up at the bottom, but that's entirely the point of stepping on in the first place.

      The fact that this is a complete non-starter for actually reducing spam is irrelevent next to the intended consequence of making a buck off the problem.

      It's really sad that they can get away with "pay to evade spam filters", a horrible idea, by saying it is for the oppo
    • I run an opt-in, non-profit, ad-free announcement list, for example. I just checked and there are 521 AOL and Yahoo addresses subscribed. I'm not going to pay $5 a day to reach those people!

      Ever had bounces because of false positives by spam filters? If not, then this service is probably valueless to you. If so, then would it be worth $5/day, or $1/day, or $0.25/day to be able to evade those filters and avoid that trouble?
      -russ
  • by wpegden (931091) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @03:44PM (#14662351)
    trash "certified" email.
  • by MyNymWasTaken (879908) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @03:45PM (#14662359)
    AOL and Yahoo would get a cut of the fees charged by Goodmail.

    What a surprise that AOL & Yahoo are doing this. They can proclaim that they are "fighting spam" and be paid for it at the same time. This does absolutely nothing to stop the zombie networks hemorrhaging spam or the bulk mailers in countries with lax - no UCE laws.

    The money doesn't pass to the user receiving the 'solicited' commercial bulk mail, but rather to the email provider. This will simply create a new class of "legitimate" spam; equivalent to the "Addressed to Occupant" bulk mail that floods the snail mailbox.
    • by CyberLord Seven (525173) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @04:10PM (#14662656)
      I have a free (as in beer) e-mail account with Yahoo. They bear the financial impact of spam, not me. If this let's them defer some of that cost, what do I care?
      They will probably care later as I quickly learn that their seal of approval is another level of spam and start automatically deleting it. But until then I wish them well. After all the e-mail service is costing me nothing.
    • The problem is one of separating spam from opt-in email. If Goodmail Systems gets paid to identify and sign opt-in email, do you really think that AOL and Yahoo are going to reject unsigned email for free? Of course not. That's most of the reason why Goodmail Systems has to pay the receiving mailbox provider. And the reason Goodmail Systems themselves needs to be paid is because they perform the task of certifying that the sender is only sending opt-in email. If ever Goodmail Systems allows a sender t
  • translation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ummit (248909) <scs@eskimo.com> on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @03:45PM (#14662365) Homepage
    The fees are the latest attempts by the companies to weed out unsolicited ads, commonly called spam

    Of course what they really mean is that the fees are an attempt by these companies to make money from spam.

    The new scheme doesn't do anything to weed out spam, since the existing spam filters remain in place. All the new scheme does (as the /. headline "AOL and Yahoo to Offer Filter Circumvention" accurately reflects, unlike the AOL and Yahoo marketing doublespeak) is to give senders with money a leg up and a "privileged" level of access to the end users' mailboxes.

    • Re:translation (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Russ Nelson (33911)
      It's not about circumventing filters. It's about removing opt-in email from the input of filters. The more effectively AOL and Yahoo can do that, the harder they can filter. So who is going to identify opt-in email? AOL and Yahoo could create their own solutions, sure, but then N senders need to deal with M mailbox providers leading to N*M transactions (where initially M=2). Much better to have a service organization which deals with N senders PLUS M mailbox providers. It's not like spam blocking is f
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The fees ... are the latest attempts by the companies to weed out unsolicited ads, commonly called spam

    Thanks, I hadn't hear of spam before. These kids have such groovy slang today!

  • Da' Mafia! (Score:5, Funny)

    by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @03:47PM (#14662401)
    Say, dat's a nice email message you got there. It would be a shame if some spam filter caught it. ;)
  • by Tackhead (54550) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @03:48PM (#14662408)
    > In exchange for paying, e-mail senders will be guaranteed their messages won't be filtered and will bear a seal alerting recipients they're legitimate."

    In exchange for paying AOL/Yahoo, e-mail senders will be guaranteed their messages won't be filtered by AOL/Yahoo, and will bear a seal marked BAYES_90,HTML_AOL_SEAL,HTML_YAHOO_SEAL.

    (The mailserver said she'd borne a seal. I said filter the damn spam and leave my wife's private life out of it, OK, pal?)

  • Next (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 3CRanch (804861) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @03:48PM (#14662411)
    So I suppose the next thing would be a 1/4 to 1 cent charge to the users to have the bypass-spam get re-filtered.

    Its all about the might $!
  • Micropayments? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Mr.Fork (633378)
    Didn't a company called Javien try out a micropayment system for Spam emails back in early 2001? Hyperion or something I thought it was called. Instead of the ISP charging for emails, email account owners could charge back to spammers willing to give them $coin$ to send their message.

    Personally, I would rather receive a few dollars for spammers to send me emails. Since I get over 400 a day, if I charged a cent a spam, that would mean $1460 a year just to receive spam.

    Bout time they started charging back
    • Right (Score:3, Insightful)

      by metamatic (202216)
      The problem with the scheme isn't that it's charging for e-mail; ultimately that's the only plan I'm aware of that has any chance of working. (See http://www.pobox.com/~meta/pages/spam [pobox.com] for my rationale for that statement.)

      No, the problems with this scheme are:

      - No provision for non-profit entities (e.g. mailing lists I run for friends, etc.)

      - The amount isn't set by the appropriate party (i.e. the only person qualified to determine how much it should cost you to send me mail, is me.)

      - The criteria aren't se
      • I agree with you about the details of this plan as currently announced, but the good part of it is that AOL and Yahoo are big. If big companies like that start charging, then a scheme will reasonably quickly evolve where it's easy for a sender to pay. After that happens, the number of ISPs who want in on the scheme will increase, and then we'll start to some solutions to your other problems coming out.

        Right now a "sender pays" scheme can't get off the ground. This could be the beginning of putting the in
      • You forgot:

        - How the hell do we find out whether a mail is legit?

        By looking at the address? Great, now joe-jobs cause even more damage! By looking at the sender's IP address? Can comeone say "spoofing"? By scanning the contents, for example for a certain header? It'll take the spammers about two weeks to forge it.

        There is pretty much nothing in an e-mail that can't be spoofed - so how do they intend to find out which mails are legit? The only way I'd see would be by checksumming the whole thing and comparin
        • That was what I meant by the last comment--that their system will be insecure. I'm betting it'll be based on easily-spoofed headers, rather than some kind of cryptographic signature.
    • There is something insidious about this kind of willingness to sell off one's life like this. It reminds of people who take money to be walking billboards for some product. Or people who take money to "advertise" certain products and services to their friends. It is disgusting, actually. And I sincerely hope that it doesn't become too much more commonplace in the future.

      -matthew
  • by davidwr (791652)
    I was gonna call dupe-sies but the Yahoo bit is new.

    Zonk should've added

    Previously covered here [slashdot.org].
  • by The_REAL_DZA (731082) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @03:53PM (#14662467)
    He probably spends more than that in a day on hotdogs and beer!
  • I can't wait to see what happens when someone steals a credit card to phish more credit card numbers out of clueless AOL users. "The email came with the little icon that said it was legit, of course I had to verify my account details!"
  • At least google's official "spam" spams you off to the side with ads that are actually for products, in a way that is inobtrusive.
  • by danielDamage (838401) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @03:54PM (#14662482) Homepage
    ...will turn your computer into a zombie mail relay, but also use keyloggers to steal your credit card number to automatically pay AOL the spam fee.
  • I can envision e-tailers like Dell or Amazon using it when they mail out invoices or software vendors using it to mail out registration keys.

    But it's probably not cost-effective for shotgun spamming, certainly too expensive for penis enlargement and Viagra hustlers. Those folks won't want their names/banking info on file anyway.
  • Unsolicited email, even when the greaseball spammer pays some corporate goon to do so, is still unsolicited. You didn't ask me, you didn't pay me, therefore you're still a gutter dwelling spammer. Even with the corporate stamp of approval.

  • I still haven't seen AOL clarify whether this applies to mailing lists or not; the PR statements and writeups seem to indicate it's any sort of bulk mailing.

    Do emails get completely blocked, "possibly" tagged as spam, or are links+images stripped out?

    I've seen people claim all three using wild suppositions, so please have some solid evidence to back up your claim...

  • ...until the companies themselves start selling our emails?
  • This isn't a TOTALLY bad idea... it's just not cutting everyone in on the action who needs to be benefitting, namely the account holder. Yahoo! would clean up in a heartbeat if they announce that they will divvy up the fee they collect so that the account holder gets a slice.

    I'd take 500 Yahoo!mail spamaccounts if Yahoo cut me in for a penny on every spam that made it to my inbox. If they really want this to succeed, they need to come up with a Yahoo!SpamRewards(tm) program and allow JoeBlowEndUser2341 to
  • Actually (Score:2, Insightful)

    by 3CRanch (804861)
    Actually I've always wondered why the retailers the pay for spam to be sent out aren't targeted. The spammer is, quite honestly, the middleman. If we attack the head (the company paying the spammer), spam should be reduced.

    Does anybody know if there is a blacklist of these companies? I'd love to add their names to my proxy to block anybody from my office from going back to their sites.

    Might take a bit longer to kill the problem, but anything would help...
    • Re:Actually (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kent_eh (543303)
      If we attack the head (the company paying the spammer), spam should be reduced.

      What is the address of "B1gg3r P3n15 Incorperated", again? And how do I get there to attack them?

      Seriously, I don't usually see spam from real, legitimate companies. Most of what I get is from some shady "deal-too-good-to-be-true" kind of outfit with no name.
      My bet is the spammer, and the company selling the "product" are usualy one in the same.

    • Spamhaus [spamhaus.org]'s Register of Known Spam Operations [spamhaus.org] contains quite alot of detail on some known spammers.

      Filtering the email is usually more effective because the mail itself follows more determinate patterns, such as key words, obfuscation, originating IP's, fake headers and malformed HTML whereas most of these 'companies' operate from shadey websites that move around alot that are hard and expensive to trace and punish. It's also difficult to prove they had a any direct involvement with the spamming.
  • In exchange for paying, e-mail senders will be guaranteed their messages won't be filtered and will bear a seal alerting recipients they're legitimate.

    If it bears this seal [qualitytrading.com]
    I guarantee you that it is legitimate!

    Yeah right.
  • E-Mail Vs. Mail (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pvt_medic (715692) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @04:02PM (#14662554)
    While many people may cry foul, thinking that this is an expensive price tag, think about the people who would benefit most from this. Companies who have traditionally relied on mass mailings to announce things or update there customers will benefit from this substantially. Authentication that the e-mail is from who it says it is, and at a fraction of the price of snail mail. Although i do forsee that there will be several bugs to work out on this.
  • This just in from our reporter at the scene, "Obvious Guy":
    The number of Gmail users has tripled during the five minutes since this story broke. Sources say that Yahoo and AOL were shocked to learn that their e-mail users actually didn't like the idea of having Yahoo and AOL profit from delivering unwanted spam directly to their inboxes.
  • This isn't such a bad idea, but it really hinges on whether or not the main base of spam gangs currently operating will jump on board. If so, then it could be very beneficial, as the community would have less UCE, bandwidth and resource theft and virus/trojan/worm activity would probably decrease dramatically (because people in the industry know that most of this activity is done by spammers). Plus with a new endorsement system, ISPs could more easily filter the mail if they wish, or they could use it as
  • by WillAffleckUW (858324) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @04:10PM (#14662650) Homepage Journal
    does it make it any less spam-like?

    No.

    It's still spam, but the network provider is taking a cut of the profits to betray you.
  • AOL and Yahoo said the program, which is being offered through a company called Goodmail Systems, will target banks, online retailers and other groups that send large amounts of e-mail.

    ...if all it did was affect those sending millions of spam messages, but instead it picks on the little guy, who even at such a low rate, can't afford to send out too many mailings. This will hurt non-profits and charitites the most. And it won't stop the spammers anyway; they'll forge the ids/addresses of "good" email cust

  • Unlike most people on Y! mail, I pay for it. Don't really use it much anymore (in particular since gmail), and it's coming up for renewal soon. Wasn't much of an argument to keep it, so this is the nail in the coffin.

    I'm not paying for spam. Bad enough their filtering is shit in the first place. It will not filter email that's not addressed to your Y! address.

    I forward mail to it from my mailserver so I can check it on the road if need be. So all the junk that hits that address passes right through to Y! as
  • by PhYrE2k2 (806396) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @04:13PM (#14662678)
    First let me point out Bonded Sender. THis is not the same, but has the same effect. It is essentially putting up a bond (a few thousand dollars usually for even the slightest volume) and in doing so, you say "for every Spam message you get, take something from the bond to compensate yourself for it". This is a way for legitimate senders (CNN, Mailing lists, Slashdot, Microsoft's security updates, newspapers, etc) to white-list their e-mail with those recipients who follow this white-list (Hotmail, MSN, RoadRunner, etc for example, is one who does). It puts the "we swear we're not sending Spam, and we'll put money on it".

    http://www.bondedsender.com/fees.html [bondedsender.com] shows their rates (for If it costs $12.50 for 5000 users (1/4 cent per e-mail), to make big e-mail providers (particularly webmail providers) to like their e-mail, that's a legitimate cost to the cover and drinks they'll make off of each person. If it brings in one person it's probably worth it.

    These folks aren't Spammers, in the same way that when you sign up for news on CNN or your favourite software company, they're not Spammers either. People _WANT_ and _CHOOSE_ to get their mail. It is BULK mail, and I'll admit that (bulk not meaning junk). Spam filters continue to get smarter in knowing the difference between Spam, Bulk, and Personal mail. Personal mail is sent by a user. Bulk mail is things you want like newsletters. Spam offers a bigger penis through the use of Viagikra *sic*.

    ISPs that group bulk and Spam into one category are missing the point of a Spam filter. It is not to keep bulk e-mail out but to be programmed to determine what the mail someone wants (or may want) to read and something that is unsolicited. The solicited/unsolicited mix is the important one.

    Person-to-person mail is good.
    Solicited mail is good.
    Unsolicited commercial e-mail is bad.

    -M
    • I have all mail from IP addresses approved by Bonded Spammer (yes, Ironport calls it Bonded Sender) going into a Bonded Spammer folder. Let's see what's in there.
      • ALT.com News: Real-time scenes, hot pics inside! ALT.com, part of Friendfinder, Inc, the notorious spammer, is sending ads approved by Bonded Spammer. They're sending them to an e-mail address I used with a defunct service around 1999. Apparently, Friendfinder bought their mailing list. Amusingly, the IP address for Friendfinder's e-mail se
  • New spam identifier (Score:2, Interesting)

    by milamber3 (173273)
    If you didn't want to get any of their certified spam couldn't you use the new "seal alerting recipients they're legitimate" as a custom identifier for a spam filter? Seems it would unite all this mail under one common signal allowing easier removal.
  • I'll give it a month or two to see how it goes, but if this results in more spam getting my inbox, I'm going to finally resort to switching to Gmail. I've got a gmail address, but I just like Yahoo's interface much more. The effectiveness of their spam blocker has always been one reason I like them - if that goes away, I'll go through the supreme pain in the ass that would be switching all my crap over to a new email address after using this one for at least a good six or seven years.
  • Slashdot to offer dupe protection as well?
  • Given the large userbase of AOL and Yahoo!, this should be a good test of just how much "stink", people are willing to put up with. In my experience with their premium service, Yahoo! does a pretty good job of keeping spam out of my inbox. Typically, I'll get maybe two a day that escape filtering. If that number were to triple or quadruple, I might begin to think about another service. So legitimizing some spam this way, definitely carries a risk of customer loss.

    Also interesting is the likelihood that the
  • 37 cents for a stamp, that doesn't stop spam from showing up in my snail mail box.
    • by cqnn (137172)
      Bulk mail and postcard rates are significantly less than letter rate
      (37 cents).

        Most of the scams (get rich quick schemes and luck spreading chain mails)
      have moved to email as a cheaper alternative. And many of the other
      types (mortgage/refinance offers, catalogs, sales flyers) are starting
      to move that way too.

  • ...that is, anywhere but on the internet, wouldn't this be called "extortion"?

    disclaimer: This is a real question, not rhetorical. I could admittedly be wrong.

    My parents' Yahoo address has been filtered when they sent something to my address. They mass-emailed pictures of my son to about fifty people, and all the Yahoo users had to dig it out of their junk mail folders to view it. When Yahoo's spam filters are that restrictive, one must wonder just how many people will simply stop sending to Yahoo.

    I'm not a
  • All I can see is that this might decrease the profit margins of spammers somewhat. Perhaps not even enough to be notable for them. In fact, with the e-mails being certified as well, there's actually an incentive for spammers to pay, because that "certificiation" will make the sheep think that they've just recieved something good and legit rather than some crappy spam mail.

    Unless Goodmail is privately held by people or organizations not looking to profit, it shouldn't be too hard for the spam cartel to buy u
  • e-mail senders will be guaranteed their messages won't be filtered and will bear a seal alerting recipients they're legitimate.

    If I didn't ask for it, it's not legitimate. Period.

    Junk mail is junk mail, regardless of who it's from.
  • slashdot morons (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Russ Nelson (33911) <slashdot@russnelson.com> on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @04:31PM (#14662877) Homepage
    Tell me, does ANYBODY read TF articles anymore, or do people just rely on the oh-so-inaccurate summary of the story? AOL and Yahoo are not going to permit people to send spam. They're going to give senders of opt-in email a way to avoid spam filters. Spammers aren't willing to pay money; their business would become entirely unprofitable. On the other hand, people who send opt-in email currently have to expend resources trying to avoid spam filters that should not be applying to them. So, like all voluntary free market transactions, AOL and Yahoo are splitting the difference. They're giving opt-in senders a way to reduce their costs and increase reliability (important for transactional email) in exchange for being paid to set up the special infrastructure necessary to ensure that they and only they are able to evade the spam filters.

    Disclosure: I have consulted for Goodmail Systems' qmail implementation to be used by Yahoo.
    -russ
  • by TekGoNos (748138) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @04:47PM (#14663052) Journal
    Of course, it wont stop spam. This is marketing bullshit.

    But one of the biggest problems with spam isn't the spam itself, that's just an annoyance. The biggest problem is that spam-filters have made email unreliable.
    Today, when I send a message, I'm not sure if the recipient will get it or if it will end up as a false positiv. And for some buisiness mails, even a .1% chance that it will end up as a false positiv is prohibitiv. This leads to such stupid things as people sending a mail, then calling and asking if the other one got their email.

    Now, this scheme can prove interesting as it give buisiness a way to guarantee delivery of crucial email.

    And for thoose crying "extortion" : snail mail already does this : for a fee, they will deliver the mail directly to the person and collect their signature, thereby granting guaranteed delivery. And they advertise that they care more about these mails, so that there is less chance of them "getting lost".

    So : this does nothing to fighting spam, but guaranteed delivery is still interesting.

    On the other hand, if they really remove their spam-filter and only deliver white-listed and paid-for mail to the inbox and everything else to the spam folder (like I read in another article about this plan), now, this would actually make spam worse, as it would increase the number of false positives so much that everybody would have to read their spam-box anyway.
  • Legitimate what? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CheeseTroll (696413) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @04:50PM (#14663074)
    Legitimate spam? And how is that better than fake spam?
  • I run a mailing list for my cycling team. I can guarantee that no spam originates from it. Yet, every month or so, all messages to AOL from the lists begin to bounce. I'm even paying the extra money for a commercial broadband line so that my IP is not blackholed.

    Myself, and the president of the team in question (who just happens to be an AOL user) have both complained. It works for a month or two, and then they are rejecting again.

    I love providing a service to my cycling team, but it's almost to the

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