Spam Control Considered Harmful

Jay R. Ashworth jra at
Tue Oct 28 14:57:35 UTC 1997

On Tue, Oct 28, 1997 at 08:05:47AM -0500, Chris MacFarlane wrote:
> The Moral Majority and The Promise Keepers and other fundamentalist groups
> sit on white horses waiting to ride in and save us from ourselves.  What is
> being said below needs to be considered.  Firstly, Paul mentioned the need
> to have strong checks and balances.  What does that mean and how do we keep
> him honest and ensure "we are using our powers for good"?  It's well and
> fine to say that "the Nanog Group" is watching but in reality is there any
> bite in that statement.  Do we have an audit and appeal system to ensure
> rules are applied equally and fairly?


The choice of whether to _deploy_ the centrally generated filtering
information is decentralized.  If your provider filters out stuff you
don't want filtered out, "turn the damn channel".

This is almost identical to the NoCeM situation, wherein you can decide
from whom to take your cancel messages.  It's very much analogous to
using a movie reviewer to decide what movies to see.  You don't _have_
to listen when he says a movie sucks, and there's more than one

> Next once the bulk mail protocol is in an RFC I would expect the RBL to be
> disbanded certainly.  What worries me is that some other moral content issue
> is sitting on the fire and we are fanning the flame by providing method to
> the madness.  As easily this started out on spam, spam and spam we could see
> a rise in some other groups interest in deciding "content issues" for
> others.   Some thought needs to go into how to limit some of this vary type
> of methodology.

I personally think it will be self limiting, for precisely the reason I
noted above -- on top of which, the horse- (and man-)power necessary to
do this on a post per post or site per site basis is an order of
magnitude (or two, or three) higher than what's being done now.

> One idea would be to set up a "working group" to develop subscribed to
> operations guidelines and principals for ISPs.  The group could have a
> charter and systems for addressing issues like this now and in future.  They
> could have built in review mechanisms and audit systems.  Police ourselves
> or be policed!  The frontier work Paul and company have done is great but
> needs to be formalized.


Why add bureaucracy to fix something that hasn't broken yet?

-- jra
Jay R. Ashworth                                                jra at
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