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Bad news for spammers, but good news for us.

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My ISP has announced it will soon be offering a free anti-virus and anti-spam service to its customers. They say this is in response to customer feedback about computer viruses and spam emails. Is this the time therefore for you to ask of your ISP that a similar service be provided since failure to provide such a service might cause you to take your custom elsewhere?I appreciate this suggestion might provoke replies from those on the far side of the pond that will raise the question of free speech. Since the activities of spammers and the virus spreaders amounts to a curtail of my liberty to use my mailbox, I consider the activities of virus senders and spammers not so much a use of free speech, but an abuse of free speech.Denis. The Ancient Brit.

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>I appreciate this suggestion might provoke replies from >those on the far side of the pond that will raise the >question of free speech.Denis...One can only hope that ISPs on either side of the pond decide to add antivirus and/or antispam software on their servers. It's good business sense in that ISPs who filter spam and worms don't have to use their bandwidth distributing and their hard disk space storing this garbage (while admittedly having to waste processor cycles, licensing fees, and admin costs for the software and associated hardware). I've written Comcast (my broadband provider) with the hope that they'll get rid of the garbage.As to free speech... In a free society, a man has the right to say what he wants. OTOH, in the same free society, I've got the right to tell same speaker (using a rather indelicate phrase I learned while living on your side of that great salty lake) to bugger off. The fact that I use my cable TV provider's option to block channels which are either bothersome to me personally or not appropriate for my children doesn't violate their free speech. I doubt anybody'd think that opting in to the ISP's spam killer would count as a speech violation.I'd be curious to see what percentage of people actually chose to opt out of the ISP's spam and virus buster.Bill

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In itself the idea is good and makes good sense from a business perspective (as said, both good PR and it has the potential to reduce bandwidth usage and might prevent you getting a bad name from virusses getting distributed through many infected customers).On the other hand the potential of a Big Brother system is there as well. What if the ISP decides to block all email coming from a major competitor? Or all email with certain phrases or words that hint to a content they don't like (political, religious)? If they control what gets blocked or not you get censorship. What that can do was proven a year or so ago when programs like NetNanny were found to be blocking sites because those sites were critical of them or were writing about things the creators of the application didn't like (in this case it was sites from people with different political ideals from the creators of the software among others).This is a very thin line, and crossing it is very easy for some people especially if there is no control over them.

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Hi everyone,I live on the left side of the pond (looking down) :). My local dial up ISP started offering anti spam software a month ago. They had something like 90% participation. Free speech does not appear to be an issue concerning the abuse by many mass emailers.BobP :)

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Denis,I assume that you are a BT Internet user ? I received the same e-mail a couple of days ago, and I am also hopeful that this will eventually cure my spam problem. I'm getting rather sick of the crap that arrives in my InBox every day (particularly the links to porn sites).Chris Low,ENGLAND.

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JT,It's very likely that I would be made aware of any blocked e-mails that really mattered to me, simply because the sender would notify me regarding any problems (by phone or whatever). Blocking advertisements wouldn't be a sin as far as I am concerned, since I couldn't care less about any of them.Chris Low,ENGLAND.

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Not saying it would happen, but the potential for abuse is there.I agree that blocking advertisements is a good thing, but I find that many spamblockers have a disquieting number of false positives (either that or they are too conservative which leads to not blocking enough).

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>I agree that blocking advertisements is a good thing, but I >find that many spamblockers have a disquieting number of >false positives (either that or they are too conservative >which leads to not blocking enough). That's one of the problems we've run into with the mail network I administer at work. We filter for content and occasionally "toss the baby with the bathwater" because of an over enthusiastic filter. We're testing out some of the next generation filters which are supposed to be a little more fault tolerant and keep the "fale positives" to a minimum.I think if this is done properly at the ISP level, it could be a very positive experience for all involved. Certainly a virus scanner at the ISP level is a benefit. While I am vigilant (okay, anal retentive) about maintaining DATs and engines on my antivirus software, I know some folks who have geriatric dats that are still allowing Melissa and LoveLetter through, let alone the more virulent worms like Bugbear. I'd rather they get picked off at the ISP rather than coming to me.As long as the spam which is intercepted isn't removed from the system but maybe gives a recipient report ("Dude, we think you got spammed. Look here for more info.") which I could either act upon or disregard would be nice. Sure, it'd be overhead for the ISP, but word might get around that "these guys help keep the adverts for herbal viagra and whatever" and business could increase.

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>snail mail? The idea of recipient reports as suggested by >Billpap would not suit me either, I would find a succession >of recipient reports as annoying as the spam that prompted >them. Thinking that through, Denis, I'd have to agree with you. If I got fifteen messages from my ISP telling me that Naughty Nelly and her girlfriends had spammed me, I'd probably get annoyed. I do like the idea of the service you're buying holding the suspect messages and when I wish to release them I could.Sometimes I should let thoughts become fully formed before expressing them.

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