Friday, April 14, 2006

I Hate Spam

I don't usually like to use the 'H' word, but spam is one of those things that actually deserves it. It's invasive, it wastes your time, it uses up bandwidth, most of it is part of a scam (of one sort or another). But what can be done about it (and similar things, such as malware)?

Well, my first take is that we need a Constitutional amendment, tentatively:
Information about a citizen belongs to that citizen, and, except for legitimate government uses, cannot be used by anyone other than that citizen without their permission.
Then pass laws that require such permission to be renewed on at least an annual basis, prohibit selling such information and make it illegal for any commercial enterprise to send any unsolicited email to an individual, other than an annual request for permission to send them specific email, explicitly described.

Also, pass legislation specifically enabling services such as Blue Frog, creating a defacto do-not-spam list, one that actually increases costs for non-compliant spammers, which is the only way most of them are going to pay any attention.

What about malware (adware, spyware, viruses, worms)? First, we need some standards about how complicated contracts (such as end-user license agreements) can be, so that it's far more difficult to hide unexpected things in them. That should also include standards about how complicated the law can be (there will be a future post about simplifying government. In the meantime, feel free to give me your ideas).

One idea is that any license agreement is null and void if any of the covered software has any hidden functionality that results in the user's loss of control over any of their personal information. Also, any install software should require a separate action from the user to agree to install any software that communicates outside the local computer, with a simple, but accurate and complete explanation of what is being communicated, and why. If the developer wants to require some such software to be installed for the rest of the software to be installed, that's fine, but his only option should be to get a specific agreement for the software in question or abort the entire installation and back out any changes.

There should be a set of industry standards for naming and documenting what each task on the computer is, so a user can look at Windows Task Manager, for example, and be able to tell what gcasDtServ.exe is, what it does, and if it's necessary for it to run all the time. That won't stop viruses and worms, but will make it easier to spot stuff that doesn't belong.

What do you think?


Anonymous Noor said...

Hey there, this isnt actually an response ur "I hate spam" article but i thing i found in another blog : "...Roger said...
Sounds like those, particularly clerics, who support such laws and attitudes, have, deep in their hearts, serious doubts about the truth of their religion."
From that statement i see a white man, from the US truly devoted christian or the american version of what Jesus may Gods blessings be with him said. Yes true U can never force people not to convert, people follow their heart; and people always choose the easy way such as ur religion whereas u enter paradise ONLY by accepting Jesus love. Its the religion of the RICH, islam is the religion of the Poor (we believe that this life is a test and the reward is the hereafter), u see ppl drinking like alcoholics, take drugs, gamble, have sex before marriage and with a cross and thanking Jesus for their succes!!! i mean and ppl adjust the religion after their way of living; like now u even have gay preachers?? I must give u this tough; islam isn giving a nice picture to u guys; maybe even more in INDIANA this atypical state of the Us; but the only true ISLAM what it REALLYYYY is u find in the Koran, not in those angry faces u see in Iraq or elsewhere. Those ppl are angry, sad, hungry they shouldnt be judged. In islam we have an enormus respect for Jesus, however this IMAGE that the US; especially US and EUROPE has CREATED is realllyyy weird u could think he was born in Colarado. Where is ur struggle here in life? I hope i havent been disrespectful cause it wasnt what i intended to be. Happy easter!

2:01 AM

Mon Apr 17, 07:27:00 AM CDT  
Blogger Roger said...

Well, this is way off-topic, but I may do a post on religion in the future, so appreciate the input.

My understanding is that if you truly accept Jesus, then you will begin to live a good life. If you don't, then you have only paid lip service to accepting Jesus, and therefore are not saved. By this interpretation, many Christians are not saved, though they believe they are.

My point in the comment you found in the other blog was that, if Islamic clerics really believed in the truth of Islam, they wouldn't be so worried about the possibility of Muslims being converted to other religions. Obviously, this went a bit beyond the scope of the original post.

I followed up on the link, hit the NYTimes registration site, backed off and did a little other research on the subject. I would have gone for the NYTimes article, but it's been a while since I used, and didn't see the point in looking at the Times when the information is available from many other sources and they're trying to discourage use of their site anyway (backhanded swipe at stupid registration policies).

Mon Apr 17, 08:19:00 PM CDT  

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