MSN and AOL on the Same Side?

The spam problem has gotten so bad that arch rivals MSN and AOL are teaming up to fight the problem. This article on BizReport contains several interesting (and frightening) statistics which detail just how bad things have gotten: "Internet users receive an average of 110 unwanted e-mails weekly." Unfortunately, MSN and AOL are going about solving the problem the wrong way.

Spam, which has increased "fivefold over the past 18 months," is literally bringing the Internet giants to their knees. Besides the technical hurdles spam imposes, MSN and AOL customers are leaving in droves for smaller ISPs. Though still inundated by spam, smaller ISPs tend to recieve less spam per customer than MSN and AOL, whose sheer size makes them prime targets.

MSN and AOL are trying to stop spam legally. The Internet is a global medium. Perhaps no one told these folks that United States law only applies to, well, the US or to companies doing business in the US. If the technology is fundamentally broken, no amount of legilsation will fix it -- only innovation will.

This isn't to say we wouldn't see some benefit from such legislation. When local competititors spammed our customers, legal leverage would have proved useful. Additionally, many cash strapped US businesses have resorted to spamming or selling customer account information to spammers. Ostensibly, legislation would put these businesses on their best behavior, protecting both our inboxes and customer privacy.

Nevertheless, the two Internet powerhouses have unmitigated resources, be they wo/man power, talent, or money. It would seem that they could leverage such resources to bring a permanent end to the spam problem by fixing the technologies -- or even devising new ones.


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