Re: [Shutup] [ietf-smtp] Proposed Charter for the "SMTP Headers Unhealthy To User Privacy" WG (fwd)

Ted Lemon <> Tue, 01 December 2015 18:46 UTC

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From: Ted Lemon <>
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Date: Tue, 01 Dec 2015 18:46:50 +0000
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Subject: Re: [Shutup] [ietf-smtp] Proposed Charter for the "SMTP Headers Unhealthy To User Privacy" WG (fwd)
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Tuesday, Dec 1, 2015 12:57 PM Ned Freed wrote:
>> I think it might be helpful if someone would name or describe a largish
>> site or service provider that uses Recived, and describe how in useful
>> detail. "A spam/virus filter company that handles mail for about x million
>> mailboxes does ...", that kind of thing.
> First, people have already been referred to SpamAssassin, which most definitely
> does perform various checks on Received: fields. The code is out there; all
> you need to do is look.

Looking at the code isn't all that interesting, but given that it's available, what _would_ be interesting would be to try Spamassassin with and without, e.g., the Received: header field from the initial submit, on the same corpus of mail, and see how the effectiveness of the filtering changes.

> Second, good luck on getting anyone to comment on the details of their own
> secret sauce, or for that matter getting anyone who has learned such details
> through business relationships. All such information is pretty much guaranteed
> to be covered by confidentiality or nondisclosure agreements.

This is probably true, but the effect of it is that we should not consider assertions people make that they can't justify.  It's actually not that useful to know what specific heuristics people are using.   What would be more interesting would be to do A/B testing as I suggest above, using their proprietary solution.   It seems to me that that could in principle happen without disclosing the information that these organizations don't want to disclose.   If they don't care enough to make such information available, it's likely that it's because they don't see the issue as being sufficiently important, which is to say they don't think Received: headers make enough difference to be worth arguing about.

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