Gates attacks spam in e-mail message

Gates attacks spam in e-mail message

Yes, the world’s wealthiest man also gets unwanted commercial email offering help to get out of debt or get rich quick. "It’s ridiculous," Bill Gates wrote in an email message sent yesterday.

Spam is a plague that threatens to undo much of the good that email has achieved, the Microsoft chairman and chief software architect wrote in an email sent to subscribers of Microsoft's Executive E-Mail list.

Executive E-Mail is a public mailing list hosted by Microsoft.

Gates explained some of the work Microsoft was doing to combat the influx of spam, noting there was "no easy fix."

Microsoft is attacking spam on several fronts, most recently filing 15 lawsuits in the US and the UK against companies and individuals allegedly responsible for sending billions of spam messages.

It is also working with other industry players and lobbying for spam regulation. Furthermore, a recently created Anti-Spam Technology and Strategy Group at Microsoft was working on advanced filtering technologies that would block spam before it reached a user's inbox, Gates said.

Smart filters are one new technology meant to help stem the tide of spam. These filters learn what a user regards as spam and become more effective over time. This type of protection is harder for spammers to circumvent than, for example, blocking of email based on subject line or the address it was sent from.

New filtering technologies are already part of some Microsoft products, including MSN 8 and Hotmail.

In addition, Exchange Server 2003 and Outlook 2003, due out later this year, will have better spam guards, according to Gates.

Part of Microsoft's anti-spam effort is devoted to finding a way for "legitimate commercial e-mail" to find its way to the consumer.

Microsoft proposes establishing independent email trust authorities to establish and maintain commercial email guidelines and certify senders who follow those guidelines.

Those who don't follow the guidelines would have to add an "ADV" (advertisement) label to the subject line of the message, Gates said.

He did not detail how those policies would be enforced.

Microsoft's chief spam fighter, Ryan Hamlin, general manager of Microsoft's Antispam Technology and Strategy Group, late last month said all the efforts to fry spam should lead to spam being contained within two years.

However, before that time, spam would reach unprecedented proportions, he said.

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