Saturday, September 06, 2003
Politech Readers, Tom Jackson, On Email Economics
In mid-August, a post I'd written wondering about the viability of "do not spam" lists such as that operated by Global Removal went out to the Politech list. Some interesting and thoughtful reactions came in, which this week I had the chance to run by Global Removal's CEO, Tom Jackson. Here's what folks have had to say, and some additional thoughts of my own.
Unfortunately a do-not-spam list is a vastly harder problem than a do-not-call list. You can make one, but only by publishing a nice list of addresses for the spammers to use. They normally spend good money by trying to get such lists. No matter how the lists works (unless it literally delivers the spam itself or uses a bonded 3rd party) then:
Spammer's current megalist -> filter through do-not-spam = valid emails
With phone numbers the set is small, and getting the list isn't too useful. Here, where they don't are that you wanted to be on the list (only a small group wouldn't want to be) it just becomes a tool for their use.
Explained in full detail at: http://www.templetons.com/brad/spam/globout.html
Shot Across The Bow, Remove.org
Rich Kulawiec (who has posited that nothing short of removing spammers from the Internet will solve the problem) mentioned warnings given by the Michigan Attorney General to the operator of another private removal list, as follows:
This has been tried before. Multiple times. Each and every time has been a spectacular failure, and there is absolutely no reason not to expect any such future attempts to turn out the same way — and that's even assuming that the compilers of such a list have the best of intentions, a highly optimistic assumption.
Perhaps we need to bring this company to the attention of the Michigan attorney general, who has already gone after the similar scammers at remove.org: http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/55/32299.html
There has already been substantial discussion of Global Remove among the anti-spam community. The consensus is that it's a scam. See: http://www.spamhaus.org/removelists.html where it's (appropriately) discussed on the same page as remove.org.
Spamhaus goes on to articulate some of the MANY reasons why this hasn't worked, won't work, and can't work. (If that list isn't enough for you, let me know, and I'll give you some more.)
Neither of these "companies" (remove.org, global-remove.com) can possibly deliver what they claim. Neither, for that matter, does the US Congress, which is why any proposed federal do-not-spam list is a farce — although no doubt spammers all over the world would be absolutely delighted to see it compiled, as it would save them the expense of purchasing verified-working email address compilations from other spammers.
I was aware of the Spamhaus discussion, but it struck me as theory and speculation—interesting, but possibly knee-jerk and unproven.
Hal Murray also responded that "Michigan AG Wants Remove.org Removed, http://www.internetnews.com/bus-news/article.php/2248541." Additional information about the Michigan Attorney General's warning to Remove.org may be found in the Attorney General's press release, DMNews, and InformationWeek.
In my view it would be unfair and inaccurate to try to draw conclusions about Global Removal from what is transpiring in Michigan concerning Remove.org. From the press release and coverage, it appears the Attorney General's concerns center on hyperbole about what Remove.org said it could accomplish, and whether its representations about nonprofit status and location were accurate. To my knowledge no law enforcement agency has raised similar concerns about Global Removal, which does not purport to be anything but a for-profit enterprise, and tells Web site visitors that its "#1 goal is to work WITH the mass-emailers as an independent third-party, working a truce between our customers and the mass-emailers, rather than against them."
Tom Jackson Responds
Shortly after receiving the above responses from Politech readers, I heard again from Global Removal's CEO, Tom Jackson. Tom forwarded me two recent press releases (57.7KB PDF, 52.7KB PDF) about the mass mailers Global Removal has signed up and his company's plans for providing a non-illusory opt out option:
Tom Tsilionis, CEO of Network America [one of the world's largest providers of email sending services to bulk emailers], commented, "This is the first time we have been approached with an economic solution to unwanted email. Email marketers have an opportunity to make more money, faster and to receive fewer complaints. With Global Removal, emailers get paid more to remove an email address from our lists than they could ever make by sending mail to it. We also reduce complaints and costs."
In the past, clicking on a "Remove" link might have the opposite effect. Unscrupulous emailers would actually increase email, knowing an address was "real." Now, Global Removal will manage list removal services for dozens of emailers, including some of the world's largest.
I told Tom I was planning to update my original post, and wondered what he thought about the comments of Brad Templeton, Rich Kulawiec, and Hal Murray. He responded, and told me I could share his thoughts with you:
[Regarding Brad's email] Not really. These guys all have black lists, they don't want the heat. People are paranoid, but spammers are economical animals.
[Regarding the Remove.org coverage] Very interesting article. Has some holes wrt Global Removal. As far as privacy, our list is encrypted, end of story. As for the possibility that a spammer would compare clean with non-clean, it could happen, but not with our affiliates. We pay them, and continue to pay them for compliance. Cheating doesn't pay very well, and complying pays very well. They are interested in getting rid of those who object to spam. The hassles far outweigh the benefits. A spammer has to sell a name a million times to make a buck, literally. They don't want to cheat our system, they love it.
I know it's innovative and people are skeptical. But it's working. Our bulk email affiliates are happy and our members are happy.
In the end, I can't say I've decided one way or the other whether participation in a private removal list will prove wise or effective, but I do find it encouraging that the problem of junk email is being attacked in creative ways, using means involving incentives that might well succeed where defensive and offensive measures have not yet supplied a comprehensive solution. I'm also gratified and amazed that blogging my original concerns has led to such a range of responses from concerned and knowledgeable parties, including direct feedback from the guy running the show at the company in question.
Bonus link, Dan Gillmor: "It's too soon to give up on e-mail. But the medium may become literally unusable if we don't work collectively to be less vulnerable."
BoobyLaw.us. 'Nuff said?
Friday, September 05, 2003
On September 12 from 8-9 p.m. Eastern, 5-6 p.m. Pacific, TechTV will be airing a special broadcast entitled Music Wars: "musicians, lawyers, industry leaders, record executives, and representatives from groups including the RIAA and the Electronic Frontier Foundation will gather to battle it out at TechTV's studios in San Francisco." This is to be followed by a two hour audience q&a. Looks like one not to miss, and if possible (not for me) one to attend, so check it out.
Thursday, September 04, 2003
Tom Poe is looking for information about direct recording electronic (DRE) voting systems, and specifically copies of certification reports for DRE machines. Wired News sheds some additional light on the subject. Give Tom a shout if you can point him in the right direction.
It has been too long since I've thrown a gratuitous link to residential realtor Hanan Levin of Yorba Linda, CA, and his/his company's Future of Real Estate blog. Why? He's/it's just plain wacky, that's why. Although a new look apparently is in the works, I will be among those mourning the passing of the fuschia background and various flashy things when they perish in the name of more elegant design (which seems all but inevitable). Hanan is a link-ferret (in fact, he might enjoy the Top Seven Ferret Questions), finds the most amazing, off-beat, wonderful stuff (BoingBoing bada-bing!)—all the while keeping readers abreast of his firm's current listings. He's the only Orange County realtor I know who's going to Burning Man next year. Do not miss his/their comprehensive California Recall Election collection, and Ecclectic Links about Orange County (eat your heart out, OC). I'm also inclined to empathize with those who compulsively collect their colleagues' blogs. Hanan, keep those emails coming, you're a delight.
Just when I'm feeling like my stomach dwarfs many a roadside attraction, Halley saves the day and reminds me at this point (almost 27 weeks) my unborn child weighs less than half as much as the fall issue of Vogue. That's a relief!
Diana Foss is among the majority of Californians in the upcoming gubernatorial race, and writes Pig-Biting Mad About The Recall. Diana is not running for governor so much as against the recall, according to her Web page and blog. One can learn much from Diana, such as that anger can lead to irrational cravings for pork products, and that it took only until August 26 for someone to come out with a California Governor Candidate Deck of Cards. I learned of Diana's blog from Chris Heilman's Ultimate California Gubernatorial Recall Candidate List, courtesy of a link from Dave Winer (geshunteit!). Also blogging her way through her recall election candidacy is Georgy Russell.
Wednesday, September 03, 2003
c | net News.com reports that George Hotelling is selling a legally purchased iTunes song on eBay (current bid, with proceeds to be donated to the EFF = $860). Better click quickly, because eBay listing policies prohibit the sale of "products delivered electronically through the Internet," and according to the c |net article the auction is likely to be removed for that reason:
Here are examples of items that may not be listed on eBay because of the downloadable media policy:
- A copy of a software program which the successful high bidder can download from your Web site
- Music or video files that you will deliver through a peer to peer file-sharing community or network
- A copy of a downloadable eBook
- A secret URL address where the high bidder can download "freeware" or "shareware" software programs
(From the eBay Prohibited, Questionable & Infringing Item Policy.) At least until Congress can act on H.R. 1066, Hotelling might also want to consider allocating some of the proceeds to a legal defense fund in light of the following portion of his listing:
Because this is a legally purchased song, it has some weird licensing stuff (called Digital Restriction Management, or DRM). This means it may be tough to get it to work on your system. Still, I'm a geek and will do my best to make sure you can listen this fine song. If we cannot get the song to play on your system, I will refund your purchase price.
(Emphasis Hotelling's.) What Hotelling has in mind is one of the things the proposed Lofgren legislation seeks to address. (More from BNA and Tech Law Journal.) Though the DMCA is conspicuously absent from the c | net article, it's unlikely to remain in the shadows for long if the auction closes and Hotelling proves true to his word. (All this for a song from a Dana Carvey movie soundtrack?)
LA Weekly's current cover story is a lengthy look at Howard Dean ("Out of Left Field: Rolling with people-powered Howard Dean from the highs and lows of spring to the triumphs of summer"):
The most impressive thing about Howard Dean, and what seems genuinely to distinguish him from his fellow candidates, is his ability to think in three dimensions, to connect disparate ideas and concepts and problems in a remarkably intelligent and compelling way. It's a doctor's way of thinking: puzzling things out.
Educating future lawyers isn't what it used to be. Technology in the courtroom is becoming the standard for legal proceedings and Loyola's new $10 million Albert H. Girardi Advocacy Center is a prime example of how law schools are preparing their students for the future of litigation.
Transmogriflaw is the first AOL blogger to be featured at B&B. And though she's far from the first law student here she's among the most level headed, having rightly discovered that Labor Day Weekend is not about studying or stress, but better suited to learning how to cope with indiscriminate poison oak and rein in indiscriminate law talk. [Thanks JCA, who notes "how this year's 1Ls are so much more chill than we were."]
Tuesday, September 02, 2003
Probably owing to the expedited nature of the upcoming California recall vote, I've received none of the usual preelection information from my local Registrar. If you're in the same boat, here are the critical deadlines:
- September 22, 2003 is the last day to register to vote in order to participate in the October 7, 2003 election.
- September 30, 2003 is the last day to file applications for absentee voter ballots.
I also just learned you can now apply to become a permanent absentee voter; handy if, like me, you work outside your county of residence.
Howard's back from vacation and off and running with September's installment of 20 Questions, featuring Judge William Curtis Bryson of the Federal Circuit. Among many other things, Judge Bryson addresses the unique jurisdiction and role of the Federal Circuit, and offers tips for increasing one's briefing and argument skills. Not to be missed.
Monday, September 01, 2003
Ms. Magazine has a new editor, new publisher, and new digs in Beverly Hills, according to a Los Angeles Times Magazine story from yesterday. Ms. also has a new-ish blog. While the article mentions a rift between prior editor Tracy Wood and those more rooted in the women's movement over things like whether the term "grrl" is empowering or sexist—"to women who had come through the movement and fought the battles, they didn't care how you spelled it, it was still the word 'girl.' And they had had such a fight against that word."—it's interesting to note both "grrls" and "girls" are represented on the Ms. blogroll. (However, the "Girls Rock!" t-shirts in the online store come only in child sizes.) It seems the magazine today is striving to reach a modern audience while remembering its history. Says new editor in chief Elaine Rafferty in the Times piece,
I want 20-year-olds to read this magazine, but I'm not going to tattoo myself and put a safety pin through my nose and go on the cover. On some level we're your mother's Oldsmobile. But your mother's Oldsmobile had some really good things to it.
I can respect that (though I'm far on the downhill side of 20...), and think it's smart too that the magazine not only is blogging, but tapped Christine Cupaiuolo, editor of the savvy online magazine PopPolitics, as its blogger in residence.
Lawyers of the World, Unite! seems an appropriate enough blawg to highlight on Labor Day. Like the holiday itself, author William Shears is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of certain workers (lawyer type ones)—and to providing a complement to Shears' book.
"William Shears is a pseudonym for two lawyers who are older, wiser, richer, and more powerful than they were when they started out," reads the back of the review copy of The Young Lawyer's Guide to Money and Power I received awhile back, scheduled for an October 31, 2003 release. Since it's not every day I'm asked to review a forthcoming book I was intrigued, and surmised the mysterious authors might be blawgers. If they weren't before, they are now. Their inaugural August 28 post kicks things off with a poetry contest "about our worst experiences with the law!" (Back in my days as an English major, we would have called this a "dark genre").
I started the book over the weekend, and so far I Like It Quite A Bit. It's full of common and uncommon sense about how to approach a legal career, Apple/1984 iconography applied to educational norms, and cleverly accurate observations:
Sooner or later, you will run into one or more lawyers who are psychopaths ... Such people often do quite well in the legal profession. They treat clients well, win victories for them, and maintain their reputations through deception. If there's a metaphorical string of bodies behind them, they somehow manage to convince the world that the victims were suicides.
So far the only thing that has made me cringe too much is the title—but then, maybe I'm not giving the authors enough credit for a heaping dollop of postmodern irony. In any event, I'm honored to have been asked to review the book, and will do so here in greater detail before its release.
Sunday, August 31, 2003
A couple of blawg growth stats for you:
Number of blawgs added here in August, 2003: 58.
Total number of blawgs on the B&B blawgroll (bear in mind concerted searching revealed about 10 as of March, '02): 534, including,
- Judicial: 1 (honorary blogger, soon may be the real thing)
- Academic: 39
- Court/Court Staff: 3 (would be 4; removal request honored)
- Political: 11
- Practicing: 186
- Clerking: 9
- Learning The Craft: 129 (category needs attention in light of completion of '03 academic year, commencement of '04)
- Giving It A Rest: 5
- Blawgers At Large: 65 (needs same type of attention as Learning The Craft)
- Integrating: 19
- Managing The Chaos: 21
- Conglomerates: 29
- Truckstops: 17
As always, if you would like your listing to be other than that presently reflected, please let me know!
In honor of July 4, I am thinking of exercising my right to sexual privacy under the Lawrence decision. Do you recommend that I:
1. Have sex with my sister?
2. Marry two women?
3. Have sex with my dog?
Unless otherwise expressly stated, all original material of whatever nature created by Denise M. Howell and included in the Bag and Baggage weblog and any related pages, including the weblog's archives, is licensed under a Creative Commons License.