Readers weigh in on . . .

Re: The battle for the business process outsourcing market (March 12)

I believe that if firms continue to focus on what they are good at, they have nothing to fear. It is only when

organizations go out on a limb, which has happened time and time again by successful companies, that they run into problems.

Mike Higgs

Re: The accused (March 10)

You’ve brought up one of the common myths of fighting spam: the need for more laws.

Clearly the U.S. experience to date with CAN-SPAM has lead many to believe, and rightly so, that new laws without teeth, or new laws that are less stringent than those in effect before them (i.e. federal vs. state laws) are a step backward.

The Canadian Association of Internet Providers has been working closely with Industry Canada for over two years now in an attempt to develop a solution to spam that is equitable, effective and enforceable. We have also had the pleasure and honour of meeting with Senator Oliver and Members of Parliament to help them understand the nature of spam and the difficulties our members face every day in combating unwanted junk e-mail.

During these discussions, and as more information is gathered on a global basis, we’ve come to realize that any solution to this crisis is the same as any solution to an epidemic; it requires multi-jurisdictional cooperation and consumer awareness.

CAIP’s members provide more than 80 per cent of all Internet connections in Canada and we work proactively to combat this scourge of the Internet. In the last few years we’ve seen virtually every Canadian ISP implement e-mail filtering to prevent junk e-mail from reaching our clients. This was done not because of fear of future legislation but implemented as a survival tool for ISPs — spam is now approaching 80 per cent of all e-mail traffic. For ISPs large and small, this is done at a not insignificant cost in labour, hardware, bandwidth and outsourced services.

Consumers also play a role in fighting spam. Far too often consumers will respond to an e-mail message, asking to be removed from future mailings. Responding or using a clickable link in a message in the hope of being removed from the spammer’s list, simply confirms to the spammer that the client’s e-mail address is legitimate and therefore of greater value as the spammer can now re-sell that e-mail address.

CAIP encourages legislators to look at existing Canadian laws that can be used to fight spam before we invent new legislation. Some analysts have indicated that over 70 per cent of spam is fraudulent, misleading or deceptive in nature. Canada has capabilities under the criminal code (fraud) or Competition Act (misleading advertising) to fight many spammers. And while you point out some of the jurisdictional issues associated with PIPEDA, e-mail addresses are considered to be personally identifiable information and as such are protected.

We don’t need new laws. We do need adequate resources devoted to cyber-crime. We do need international cooperation. We do need elevated consumer awareness. Only when we have exhausted the latter three items will the former be effective.

Tom Copeland
Canadian Association of Internet Providers

Re: The accused (March 10)

If those men in Toronto are responsible for sending that much spam or half, or a quarter, I hope they get to know intimately the texture of concrete block walls.

Because of people like that I waste time every work day. Because of people like that I am afraid to open my e-mail when the kids are in the room. With kids 5 and 7 I really don’t want to get into explaining what that naked lady is doing with that man.

I have read many editorials where the writer claims a law will change nothing and we should all just go out and spend some money on SPAM filters. We need laws.

Sandy Murdock
Voicenet Interactive Inc.

Re: The accused (March 10)

I’m not sure liberty is served by having government pass laws that limit what can be sent by e-mail. Without government involvement the spam problem will probably sort itself out. The filtering technology seems to be getting better and I have doubts that anyone sending spam actually makes money. Sending an unsolicited e-mail to a million Canadians would be the sort of communication that such a law would target. What if the communication took place three weeks before a federal election and the e-mail was critical of a policy of the current government? Could the government be trusted not to use an anti-spam law to stifle free speech? Visions of sign-wielding protesters at a Vancouver APEC conference being thrown in jail lead me to believe that they can’t.

James Broen
Edmonton, Alberta

Re: The accused (March 10)

I am not technically sophisticated in this matter, but there seems to be a much simpler method for resolving this issue, regardless of the source of the spam.

First, we need to recognize that governments are powerless to stop spam. They can pass all the laws they like, but by the time they make it through courts, and by the time the police get around to paying any attention, the damage is done. If anyone believes a Canadian law will have any effect on worldwide spam, they’re dreaming.

Second, why can’t the major backbones track spam flow to specific users? If the targeted ISP was warned that they had a large spam volume, they could potentially turn off the access of the user, as virtually all ISPs have anti-spam regulations in their user agreements.

Third, if every domain registrant and Internet user paid a 50 cent per year spam fee to fund an industry body that collected spam from any user who cared to forward it in, then aggregated it all through simple accumulation, a pretty good case could be made for the warning system above to shut off the tap of a spammer. This effectively rules out mass permission based e-mails suffering the hammer. This is not required to be a judicial or statutory regulation because most, if not all user agreements have anti-spam clauses in them.

Fourth, as a punitive measure, the backbones could suspend internet access to the entire ISP if they failed to act to stop the offending spammer. This would force compliance for obvious reasons.

Joe Seigo
Calabasas, Calif.

Letters to the editor must include the writer’s name and company name along with an e-mail address or other contact information. All letters become the property of Editors reserve the right to edit submissions for length and content.

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