Group Looks to Forge Anti-Spam Standards

As the problem of e-mail spam gets worse, a research standards group has decided to take on the task of how to combat the huge number of unwanted messages being sent to Internet subscribers.

The Internet Research Task Force, an organization associated with the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), is convening what it calls the Anti-Spam Research Group to deal with the growing annoyance of e-mail spam.

The new Anti-Spam Research Group will not have any power to set policies, but its research findings could impact the way that e-mail is handled in the future. A raft of consumer groups and anti-spam advocates have been working to stop the unwanted messages, but have yet to be successful in stopping the marketers of everything from debt reduction solutions and diet pills to sexual escort services and penile enlargement offers.

On its Web site, the group says, “once considered a nuisance, spam has grow to account for a large percentage of the mail volume on the Internet.” The group says it will address the nagging problem of spam and will come up with some possible solutions.

There is evidence that unsolicited bulk e-mail spam is growing and companies like Brightmail and CipherMail, offer tools that identify and eliminate spam. Spam is often responsible for clogging e-mail boxes, and sometimes blocking incoming e-mail, if subscriber mail boxes get filled with unwanted messages.

While e-mail filters can block some spam, many companies involved in sending the messages do there best to go around those filters.

The Anti-Spam Research Group (ASRG) will look into possible changes to e-mail technological standards that could create protections against spam in the future, but those efforts could take years. The spam task force will hold its first meeting on March 20th at the IETF’s San Francisco meeting. Paul Judge, director of research and development of CipherTrust, an Internet security firm, is the chairman of the ASRG.

ASRG wants to see e-mail become “consent-based communication,” so that recipients of e-mail have a choice on whether they receive unsolicited messages, or not.

In a statement on its web site the ASRG says it will “begin its work by developing a taxonomy of the problem and the proposed solutions. This taxonomy should involve casting the spam problem into different perspectives, such as examining the similarities between spam and denial-of-service; spam and intrusion detection/prevention; and spam and authentication, authorization, and accounting.”