Re: [Asrg] Removing the incentive to spam

Vernon Schryver <vjs@calcite.rhyolite.com> Sat, 17 May 2003 01:33 UTC

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From: Vernon Schryver <vjs@calcite.rhyolite.com>
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To: asrg@ietf.org
Subject: Re: [Asrg] Removing the incentive to spam
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Date: Fri, 16 May 2003 19:33:07 -0600

> From: Kee Hinckley <nazgul@somewhere.com>

> ...
> I suspect we'll see legitimate mailers sending more included graphics 
> soon as well.  MSN and Hotmail are both providing (or about to) 
> provide filters to turn off automatic inclusion of external graphics. 
> And the next Outlook is supposedly shipping with the option off by 
> default.  None of that bodes well for content-filters.
> ...

That does not follow on two counts.

There's no law that says that "content-filters" can't recognize
identical pictures.  Spam pictures are likely to vary less than spam
URLs pointing to pictures.  That's not to say that spam pictures won't
vary, but that the easiest variations in URLs such as %-encoding and
user:password@ are lost if you send the picture instead of a pointer
to the picture.

Such changes will cause fewer total graphics in all mail, if you count
URLs pointing to pictures as "graphics," as I think you must.  Some
people who now include completely unneeded pictures, logos, icons,
and so forth will think twice when their mail bloats by 50 or 500
KBytes.  Note that I wrote "some people" instead of "everyone." Many
people won't notice or understand, at least not a first.  If at first
there are significantly more graphics, outfits like MSN and Hotmail
will have bloating disk space reasons figure out how to let their
users know.  For example, they might make the "Size" indications in
folders harder to ignore, or they might expire big messages sooner.

Of course, this is all speculation until not only do MSN and Hotmail
provide those filters, but many people use them. 

Note also that a filter that turns off included graphics is as easy as
a filter that turns off external graphics.

The biggest thing MSN, AOL, and Hotmail could do against spam is turn
off HTML by default.


Vernon Schryver    vjs@rhyolite.com
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