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A case against Trusted Senders

A reader writes that the Internet does not need Trusted Senders--it needs for there to be no unsolicited e-mail.


A case against Trusted Senders

In response to the June 25 Perspectives column by Fran Meier, "Hitting spam below the belt":

Meier may be sincere, but so are many spammers. She is--as they are--convinced of the worth of what they do.

Before commercialization, the Internet did not need "Trusted Senders." Pretty much everyone was a Trusted Sender; there was hardly an issue. Almost anyone could have forged the e-mail sender; almost nobody did. It was an environment of cooperation and trust. The Internet does not need Trusted Senders--it needs for there to be no unsolicited e-mail.

If someone wants or accepts commercial e-mail from a vendor, that person has little reason to question the e-mail. Creating this strange concept of Trusted Sender and then grafting that on to e-mail is not a solution. It is a means of permanently commercializing what is and should be a private channel of communication. The only virtue I can see to Trusted Sender is that it would be a quick and easy thing to detect with one's anti-spam filters so that the message could be deleted. Beyond that it is a distraction that obscures both the problem of spam and the true solutions to that problem.

Most of the solutions will be for businesses to act intelligently and to respect customers and potential customers by not barraging them with unwanted e-mail messages. If businesses don't do this, customers will create ways to deflect the spam.

I write this with legitimate businesses in mind. The low-end spammers will never appreciate the need to respect customers. They will have to be forced out of operation by whatever combination of filtering and legislation is needed to end their reign of abuse.

Brad Spencer
Madison, Wis.



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