Letters to the Editor

Is government serious about spam?

As the government ponders a do-not-e-mail database, it should consider that the way to eliminate unwanted e-mail is to go after the companies that employ spam as a means of advertising. Unlike viruses and Trojan-horse programs, spam always has a clear economic motivation. The spammer is being paid by someone to sell a product or service.

For spam to be a successful means of selling a product or service, there must be a link in the spam itself for paying customers to use or buy the product. This link has to point back to some commercial enterprise that can collect money and then provide the product or service. This financial link is the Achilles heel of spam.

First, the 99 percent of spam that relies on spoofed headers, or other similar technical trickery, to prevent easy filtering can be clearly criminalized because these tricks are committing fraud by e-mail. But once that is done, tracking down the spammer is pointless and not even necessary.

The real criminals are the businesspeople who pay the spammers. Any enforceable law against spam must take that approach and cut off the money supply.

Probably the best place to cut off the money is to prosecute any credit card clearing bank that transfers funds to any business when the money originates in links from spam. Legally, this can be done by enforcing existing money-laundering laws.

I say prosecute any business that is directly collecting money from the links in spam. That will eliminate spam as quickly as arresting and prosecuting customers gets rid of drug dealers and prostitutes on a street corner.

The free-speech issue is bogus. U.S. courts have always ruled that money laundering and fraud are not free speech.

What is really lacking is will. The Bush administration is not going to seriously deal with spam because too many of the administration's friends and associates profit from relationships with businesses that use spam.

Walter A. Snow

IT specialist



Voice analysis review: phooey

Your review of Layered Voice Analysis from V LLC of Washington ['Can you handle the truth?, GCN, Sept. 1, Page 1] is astonishingly defective.

This $16,000 product screws around with systems settings and even crashes other software. Your reviewer should have called the thing what it is'an expensive virus.

His so-called testing of the underlying 'science' involved exactly two subjects, and no control group. He also failed to query the makers as to the nature of whatever testing they might have performed prior to putting the product on the market.

He blandly accepts the maker's claim that the product is not a lie detector when quite plainly, detecting lies is exactly what it's supposed to do. Like the odious and unjustifiably time-honored polygraph, Layered Voice Analysis is based on the unproven notion that certain physiological responses serve as objective signatures of deception. No properly conducted scientific analysis of this notion has ever been found to be valid.

And then there's the legal angle. God help the official who bases an adverse personnel or law enforcement action on an SOS issued by this glorified dowsing rod. Lawyers for the affected individuals will be all over that official, and all over any agency that decides to squander $16,000 of the taxpayers' money on this blatant pseudoscientific fraud.

James C. Giglio

Wheaton, Md.


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