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Getting Serious About Spam

Boot Camp feature for Thursday, May 8, 2003

Getting serious about spam. Bloomberg Boot Camp, a report on today's technology. The state of Virginia has a new anti-spam law that adds criminal penalties for sending high volumes of fraudulent junk email. And in Washington a bill called the Can Spam Act has been re-introduced. AOL General Counsel Randall Boe says people are just getting sick of it...

"The volume of spam seems to be doubling every four to six months. We've seen estimates that suggest that businesses lose about ten billion dollars a year because of spam."

The problem is so bad, that rivals AOL, Yahoo and Microsoft have formed an alliance to use their technical expertise to try to stem the flow of unwanted junk email. Microsoft VP Brian Arbogast says the new laws will be a help...

"We think that effective legislation is one of the key components to a great solution and a comprehensive solution against spam. So it's not just solvable by technology, not solvable by any one company alone. And in fact that's kind of really the basis behind this announcement, is realizing that we really kind of need to work together as an industry."

But at AOL, Boe admits, the global nature of the Internet may makes grabbing the spammers slippery...

"It is a huge effort to prosecute spammers. There's no question about that. And some of the more sophisticated spammers have gone off shore which makes it very difficult to try and get at them."

But the hope is, between laws and technology, the volume of spam can be sliced. Bloomberg Boot Camp, I'm Fred Fishkin.