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Stopping spam before it starts

A reader says extreme accountability seems to be the only feasible way to attack spam.


Stopping spam before it starts

In response to the March 1 Perspectives column by Charles Cooper, "Spam and its IT discontents":

In the "old" days--when access to the Internet was restricted to the lucky few at corporations and universities--each of us had one account only, and our institution's postmaster knew who we were. If we made grief for anyone on the Internet, the postmaster heard about it, and we could lose our only door to the Net. We used our real names and e-mail addresses in each of our messages.

Without such accountability, I think we will never solve the spam problem, since the spammer just jumps from one throwaway access point to another. We can't blacklist people, so we need some way to register Internet access like we used to do. Perhaps we need a waiting period between the time you apply for an account and the time it's granted. Maybe e-mail accounts could only be granted when a user registers his or her home phone and address with the Internet service provider, just as they do when applying for a credit card. That way, if there is a complaint, the ISP knows who to contact and that person is out of an account for the next waiting period.

Maybe none of that would work, but we have extreme unaccountability and I think that is the only feasible way to attack spam.

Rob Weinberg
San Francisco, Calif.