A reasonably well informed article in Thursday's USA Today reminds us that in 2004 Bill Gates said the spam problem would be solved in early 2006, but here at the end of 2007 there's more spam than ever.
They go through a laundry list of problems of spambots, new kinds of PDF and MP3 spam, and phishing, and a list of of partial or non-solutions including filters, walled gardens, and an odd system called Boxbe, a hybrid of whitelists, challenge/response, and pay for delivery. Oh, and Bill says he never said spam would be solved (although we have him on tape), he claims he said it would be substantially reduced, which I suppose is true if you are a Hotmail user. They missed a few of the usual list of alleged solutions, but the reader comments fill that gap, suggesting mandatory return addresses on mail and, as always, a small per-message charge.
The better informed comments point out that spam won't go away so long as spammers have more of a financial incentive to send spam than other parties have to stop it. I've long felt that way; so long as software vendors get a free pass for shipping system software that's easily bot'able and ISPs don't pay the cost of spam sent from their systems, whether deliberately by spamming customers or under their noses by bots, and individual users have no meaningful incentive to keep control of their own PCs, nothing is going to change.
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