Spam purportedly on the decline, no thanks to regulators

You have to love it when a politician speaks out on a technical issue, ties their tongue up in knots, and talks down to the mainstream in hopes of taking some credit for a public issue. I think that the latest statement by the Chairperson of the Federal Trade Commission speaks volumes for that love. Unfortunately, I can’t bash the politician here, as the one in mind didn’t give much credit to the regulations either.

At a recent news briefing in Brussels, Deborah Platt Majoras (head of the US FTC) stated that “ISPs seemed to think that less spam is actually reaching consumers mail boxes”, and then goes on to voice some incredulity about the news (see Spam on the decline but authorities need to keep fighting: FTC).

Ms. Majoras goes on to point out that regulation alone might help, but that it is far from a comprehensive solution. She mentions sender authentication technologies and consumer education as the real keys to getting the spam problem under control.

I’m shocked. A politician shows scepticism for some “good news” (as they should have, as the news really isn’t that good), doesn’t take full credit for “it,” and says that some constituents they have no control over are the real keys to solving the problem. This will go down in the annals as a defining moment in political common sense. I have to give some kudos to Ms. Majoras, even if I think most politicians are…well I just can’t say it and maintain Spamroll’s family friendly atmosphere.

Ms. Majoras, you are right to be skeptical – CAN-SPAM doesn’t deserve much credit here. Just because spam isn’t reaching customers inboxes at exploding rates, doesn’t mean spam itself isn’t exploding. Factors such as growing blacklists, over-worked sys admins continually tweaking Bayesian filters, and a drove of new anti-spam software and services can keep the spam out of the inbox. But it doesn’t mean that servers aren’t crashing from directory harvest attacks. It also doesn’t mean that junk mail folders on folks desktops aren’t getting emptied much more frequently (as mine now are).

I just hope Ms. Majoras doesn’t lose her job for not taking all the credit.

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