The Spam Problem: Solved

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For a few months now I’ve been sending out emails that resulted in a reply message from Spamarrest requesting that I type in a small password before the message is delivered. Easy enough. I would then receive a notice that I would not need to do this again, because now I am in the recipient’s approved email box. It was one extra step, a bit strange, but no big deal. It seem a bit extreme to me. I hadn’t had much of a spam problem myself.

Until this week. I’ve faced a sudden explosion of it. Spam is becoming ever more sophisticated, with real-sounding names and intriguing subject lines. It is ever more difficult to recognize. Mostly it is just a deleteable nuisance, but some of it contains porn and much of it is just horrifyingly tacky.

With new worms and viruses coming out every day, spam has become actively dangerous. Anti-virus programs are wonderful but even with auto-update there is always a few hours of time that passes between the unleashing of the worm and the delivery of the fix. The attempted delivery of 30 or so worm-carrying spams yesterday convinced me that I had to act.

A new survey shows that one is every two emails is spam. It is seriously compromising the entire email system, causing people to dread going to their in-boxes. Others change names to avoid it.

Of course the state has seen the main chance. The menace of spam has prompted calls for anti-spam legislation. Politicians are calling for a national “do not spam” registry — proof that they know nothing of the industry or technology in question. Another suggestion demands prison terms for bulk emailers! The existence of spam itself has become the most useful stick out there with which to beat up on the new technology.

What do to? If the market rules, the way follows the will. It was just a matter of time. And now, thanks to the miracle of private solutions, the spam problem does not need to exist at all. The solution is in one word: Spamarrest. Glory be to private solutions! The result is far better than I imagined.

Conventional spam filters can only do so much. And I tried Earthlink’s system and found myself in some sort of bog. Yes, maybe I clicked the wrong button but long experience tells me that if a piece of software isn’t intuitive, it is probably not worth having — and that there is probably something better out there.

Spamarrest, a quick download, works by serving as a buffer email server. It receives your email and evaluates its source. A new sender is notified that you are using this, and he or she must take the extra step of entering a code — a very quick process. But it is one that automated spammers do not and cannot take. Thus does it immediately end all spam. The problem just vanishes in an instant.

You can then go to the Spamarrest site and examine the unverified email. The ones you hate can be blocked, and the spammer receives a rejected notice back. This is something that regular email cannot do. Outlook Express says it “blocks” but it merely throws the email in the delete can. So not only can you block spam with Spamarrest, you can give the spammer a little punch in the chops.

As for anyone in your Spamarrest address book, they immediately get through. You can upload your own address book from your email program if you want to, using an easy interface. New senders take that extra step of entering a code — not much to ask if someone is trying to contact you.

One major issue that had worried me concerned automated emails that are not spam. For example, everyone receives auto-email from Amazon, or someone else with whom you like to do business. What about services to which you subscribed like LRC and Mises.org? How are these to be delivered? Are these going to be zapped like spam?

Spamarrest has that problem solved. With an easy interface, you can examine all attempted email deliveries. If there is one you want, you check deliver and it puts it in your address book. It will arrive normally from then on. If it is one you don’t want, you can block it or do nothing. This completely solves the problem.

The whole program is simple and slyly ingenious for that reason. But my main point here is not to advertise Spamarrest — something even better could come along–but to highlight how the market has solved a major problem, and made it available for anyone who wants the problem solved. And it took place in the midst of political hysteria. The politicians and regulations prattle and fret, even as the market is busy solving problems — even a problem that very recently seem insoluble.

Spam doesn’t have to be a problem anymore. The brilliance of private enterprise has solved it for now. The only remaining problem is the political establishment that would use it as an excuse to regulate by force this medium that produces solutions precisely because it is so unregulated. If the market can so beautifully solve the problem of spam, is there anything it can’t do if it is permitted?

Jeffrey Tucker [send him mail] is editorial vice president of www.Mises.org.

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