April 30, 2003 8:23 AM PDT
AOL touts spam-fighting prowess
The announcement was timed to coincide with the Federal Trade Commission's first public conference on spam, which started Wednesday.
AOL, along with most Internet service providers and e-mail services, has taken up arms in an effort to stem the waves of junk e-mails inundating the in-boxes in offices and homes.
Earlier this week, AOL formed an alliance with Microsoft and Yahoo with a goal of overhauling how e-mail is created and sent, in an effort to counter how spammers operate. AOL and Microsoft also recently filed suit separately against individuals and companies that are allegedly blasting spam to their members.
The problem has become so widespread that federal lawmakers are trying to craft policy to punish spammers. Earlier this month, a pair of U.S. senators reintroduced a bill, called the Can-Spam Act, that would make it a federal offense to send spam using false return e-mail addresses. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-.N.Y., and Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., are also proposing bills to combat spam.
AOL said that it reached a milestone when it blocked 2.37 billion pieces of spam e-mail in one day this week--a sign that its filtering technology is apparently improving. In March, it prevented just more than 1 billion junk e-mails a day from reaching its members' in-boxes. The company said it now blocks about 70 percent to 80 percent of all incoming Internet e-mail traffic as spam.
In addition to tightening its filters, AOL said it is blocking such a high volume of e-mail because it is receiving more systematic reports from members about spam and because it is working with other ISPs to target and block specific ranges of IP addresses know to be used by spammers.
AOL's announcement, however, in no way amounts to a victory. Spammers are notoriously efficient at figuring out how to keep their e-mails coming.