Law enforcement could help put the squeeze on spammers

Law enforcement could help put the squeeze on spammers

The conviction of and possibility of jail time for a pair of spammers could help turn the tide in the fight against unsolicited commercial e-mail, one security expert says.

The risk of prosecution will change the profit model for what has been a low-cost method of marketing over the Internet, said Phyllis Schneck, vice president of strategic development at CipherTrust Inc. of Alpharetta, Ga.

'The spammers will go elsewhere to make that money, so I think this will result in a downturn of spam,' Schneck said.

A brother and sister from South Carolina, Jeremy Jaynes and Jessica DeGroot, were convicted yesterday in Virginia under a state law banning unsolicited bulk commercial e-mail that masks its origin. They were accused of sending thousands of spam messages to persons with AOL e-mail accounts.

A jury recommended that Jaynes receive a nine-year sentence, while it recommended a $7,500 fine for DeGroot. The pair will be sentenced in February. Although they have already been convicted, a motion to dismiss the charges is pending.

Despite the conviction and several other arrests under the federal CAN-SPAM Act, there has been no letup in the volume of spam, which accounts for more than 80 percent of all e-mail, according to some estimates.

'I think right now we're seeing the most spam we've ever seen,' Schneck said. But she expects there eventually will be a downturn.

The most recent monthly study by MX Logic Inc. of Denver showed that 4 percent of spam in October was in compliance with CAN-SPAM regulations requiring that commercial e-mail include a valid return address and a working method to opt out of future mailings.

The finding is the result of an examination of a sample of 10,000 e-mails each week. The compliance rate for October is the highest since the law went into effect in January.

'The chronically low level of compliance with the law underscores the need for progress on other fronts, namely industry cooperation on improving the security in e-mail protocols and identity management, end-user education and continued advances in anti-spam technology,' said MX Logic CTO Scott Chasin.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.


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