spamis.org_0001 - 2005-06-03 robert soloway - 206-223-1271
Stupid spam

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spamis.org_0001 - 2005-06-03 robert soloway - 206-223-1271
From Fri Jun 3 00:37:33 2005 [2005-06-03 00:37:33 130330]
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From: "SPAMIS: Strategic Partnership Against Microsoft Illegal Spam" <>
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Date: Thu, 02 Jun 2005 15:27:52 -0200

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Junk mail from (Microsoft) MS: whose spam is it anyway?
Graham Lea / The Register Tech Publication

Special report "Spammers are thieves... They're hijacking your system to d=
eliver their unrequested, unwanted advertising," says a new Microsoft web =
site paper by R'ykandar Korra'ti.

But Microsoft is on shaky ground when it comes to spam - in recent newsgro=
up posting the company's own abuse manager Mike Lyman has effectively been=
conceding that Microsoft sends out unwelcome, unsolicited mail, and that =
company staff are unwilling and unable to do much about it.

Microsoft's anti-spam stance is being undermined by a combination of fault=
y software systems, bureaucracy and incompetence.

Lyman means well, but getting Microsoft to deliver a service that comes cl=
ose to Korra'ti's objectives seems to be like trying to push water uphill.=
This isn't helped by the greed factor operating on top of the other probl=

According to Korra'ti, "The allegedly legitimate' spammers... don't hide w=
here their mail is coming from, and at least they pretend to offer a way o=
ff their lists." As far as quite a few users are concerned, that makes Mic=
rosoft a "legitimate spammer".

Several mailing lists and newsgroups are currently discussing complaints a=
bout Microsoft and spam, and there have been several clear instances where=
the company has been at fault, and where this has been conceded by Lyman.=
One of the problems, he admits, is a "tainted" database that isn't being =
fixed, and is still being used.

He also concedes that at least one mailing wasn't justified, that some Mic=
rosoft staff aren't acting according to official company policy when it co=
mes to unsolicited mail, and that the company is currently far more concer=
ned with privacy, and is therefore putting too few resources into cleaning=
up its own act on spam.

The database problems often make it difficult for people to get off the ma=
iling list, which they could well have been put onto without their agreeme=
nt. This is by no means unusual in the industry, but Microsoft continues t=
o add people to its list, to use databases that haven't been properly clea=
ned up, and to transfer mailing lists to third parties without the knowled=
ge or permission of the people listed.

The emailing that caused most ire was one about Microsoft's plans for Y2K =
(two copies of this one just this morning - Ed), but other smaller volume =
efforts continue. Some people also claim that visitors to Microsoft sites =
may find themselves getting unrequested newsletters.

And last week Microsoft is said to have mailed MCSE training course attend=
ees who had specifically checked the 'no publicity' box.

When Microsoft sold Sidewalk to Citysearch, it seems to have sold its data=
base without deleting those who had asked to be removed but at the time we=
re possibly only flagged for removal. To their annoyance, they were then s=
tarted hearing from Sidewalk: "Since you previously registered with Sidewa=
lk, we thought you would like to know..."

Unsolicited email from Microsoft may say that the email is being sent to "=
preferred members," but recipients frequently deny that they have ever kno=
wingly become a "member" of any Microsoft list.

It can however be very difficult not to wind up on one or more Microsoft l=
ists, via registration of OS or applications, or through the (largely comp=
ulsory) registration procedure for the Windows Update or Office Update ser=

Microsoft inevitably gets its hands on details of a very large proportion =
of PC users, and it therefore has a duty to be serious, consistent and res=
ponsible in the way it handles this data.

But on the contrary, from what Lyman concedes it would seem Microsoft is i=
nconsistent, irresponsible, and cavalier. Lyman admits that all is not wel=
l with Microsoft databases. He said in a newsgroup posting that "the data =
base was tainted and the mailing wasn't justified". But he seems to have l=
ittle power to influence change at Microsoft, where the current concern at=
the group where he reports is privacy rather than spamming. He is unable =
personally to get at the faulty database, and in effect blames Microsoft's=
impenetrable bureaucracy.

When challenged about unplugging the offending servers, he wrote: "Physica=
l ability does not equal authority". There are many examples of users taki=
ng all possible steps to get removed, and finding it impossible. People we=
re "working to fix their messes," Lyman said, but even a threat to divert =
a $50,000 budget to non-Microsoft products was only likely "to impact the =
local [Microsoft] weenie more than the guys at corp HQ who did the spammin=

He was also brutally frank about what happens when email is sent to addres=
ses like "you're probably hitting some little peon in=
the organisation who has zero say in how things are run. ... By the time =
the stuff gets to those who are the decision makers it's probably been boi=
led down to numbers and stats with maybe a few samples of the complaints. =
600,000 messages went out, 100 complaints came back, hmm, must be doing a =
pretty good job.'"

Lyman notes that most Microsoft marketing people don't have Internet exper=
ience, and so fail to grasp the implications of what they're doing. As far=
as they're concerned what the recipients regard as unsolicited spam are "=
informative announcements".

Lyman says: "The one thing that's kept my frustration over the pace of thi=
ngs at Microsoft from completely boiling over is I deal with the same peop=
le for privacy issues as I do with spamming issues. They've been very focu=
ssed on piracy and frankly I'd rather have them focussed on privacy."

One of the greatest fears for spammers (at least the "legitimate" spammers=
who can be tracked and pilloried) is being black-listed by the Mail Abuse=
Protection System (MAPS) founded by Paul Vixie in 1997. MAPS has develope=
d a Real-Time Black Hole List (RBL) used by some 300 licensed subscribing =
ISPs (numbers have doubled each year, so far) to block spam.

Nick Nicholas, the front man for MAPS, said there were 12 complete nominat=
ions to list Microsoft, and many incomplete ones, when the issue of black-=
listing Microsoft was raised. Lyman thinks that MAPS is trying to become a=
n "anti-spamming version of TRUSTe" but is doing it from outside the corpo=
rate world.

This is true, and for the moment at least, MAPS does not enjoy too much ma=
jor league support. MAPS admits it has made mistakes in its blacklists in =
the past. There were rumblings that Microsoft might sue MAPS if Microsoft =
was placed on the RBL list (Lyman ominously mentioned that "deep pockets u=
sually win"), but Microsoft recently concluded a deal with MAPS to use the=
product in Hotmail to cut down on spam, making any legal action much less=
likely. Ironically, Hotmail itself has taken legal action against what it=
regards as the abuse of Hotmail. Lyman claims that Microsoft has schedule=
d improving the database, but has no timing as to when this will happen.

He noted that he took a firm line with Microsoft and has overcome a view t=
hat persisted at Microsoft that people who complained had forgotten they h=
ad registered to receive spam.

In one message Lyman said of old requests to be removed "the database purg=
e should clear them out", but it would be impossible to find any culprits =
for previous abuses on the Microsoft staff. But "if the harvested stuff is=
recent ["last year or so"], there's a major problem with policy violation=
and heads need to roll." So anybody getting junk mail from Microsoft to a=
n email address first used in the last year should take up Lyman's offer t=
o sort the matter out and contact him at

He noted: "I hope other companies avoid the mistakes our folks made and go=
straight for the confirmed subscriptions up front. It'll save them lots o=
f pain." Lyman appears to be a Microsoft person who is actually trying to =
sort out the spamming situation, but with little or no help. And there are=
those who say that the anti-spamming cure by the net cops is worse than t=
he disease.

In Congress recently Rep Heather Wilson told a hearing that "banning all s=
pam "may be unconstitutional because it would ban unsolicited mail that pe=
ople do not mind receiving - or even want to receive..."

There is a way to block Microsoft spam for MS Exchange users who use Excha=
nge to provide SMTP services, and it's described at
ing-exchange.html. There are also spam filter packages such as SLMail, Mai=
lShield, N-Plex, the Isode Message Switch, VOPmail, and WorldSecureMail.

In view of what Lyman says, a column "written" by Bill Gates on the subjec=
t of spam last year has a certain piquancy: "My company is among many that=
offer regular emailings to customers and potential customers. But we only=
send email to people who have requested it, and we have easy ways for peo=
ple to remove themselves from the mailing list." This is clearly untrue. G=
ates then described spam:

"Sometimes spam includes a purported way for you to remove yourself from t=
he mailing list, but it often doesn't work. In fact, making the request ma=
y do nothing more than prove to the spammer that your e-mail address is va=
lid - prompting more mailings."

Ahem. Gastronomic note: Spam stands for spiced ham, and is a trademark of =
Hormel Foods' tinned luncheon meat, first introduced in 1937. For this rea=
son, spam is often referred to as unsolicited commercial email (UCE). Ther=
e is also a spam fan club.




Domain ID:D106313959-LROR
Domain Name:SPAMIS.ORG
Created On:14-May-2005 21:43:04 UTC
Last Updated On:14-May-2005 21:43:05 UTC
Expiration Date:14-May-2006 21:43:04 UTC
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Registrant Name:Robert Soloway
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