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Junk E-mail War Declared
Junk mail that has plagued e-mail users in China with offers ranging from gift ideas to pornography is set for a thorough trashing by a new campaign.

More than 20 Internet service providers in China have joined ranks to crack down on the growing expansion of junk mail by establishing a co-ordinated task force.

The union, connecting such big fish as Sina and 263.net, has vowed to share information on technical solutions, promote public involvement and extend international co-operation.

Jiang Yi, one of the chief co-ordinators, told China Daily yesterday that the group was compiling feedback from netizens on junk e-mail addresses and contents.

"We will then analyze the data, leading to the formation of a blacklist that can help block spam sources," said Jiang.

He added that software solutions will also be developed to facilitate net users to block and delete spam themselves.

But some Internet experts voiced caution yesterday, saying junk mail problems will continue to haunt the Net community in the years ahead as China is short of laws and regulations to keep the menace in check.

"There are still loopholes in legal, managerial and technological terms which have not yet been patched up," said Qing Sihan, an information security technology specialist from the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

China has witnessed explosive growth in Internet users, who numbered 45.8 million by this June. The nation is currently home to the second largest cyber community in the world.

But netizens are increasingly bombarded with junk e-mails.

On average, a Chinese net user is harassed by 350 junk e-mails each year. One out of every two e-mails they receive is spam, according to China Internet Network Information Centre.

Liu Jiangmin, a 32-year-old engineer in Beijing, said he has to delete between 20 to 80 junk mails each day.

"They are soaking up the storage capacity of my inbox. If I do not delete them each day, some important messages will never make it into my e-mail box the next day," said Liu.

Huang Chengqing, an Internet expert from the Internet Society of China, said the rise in junk mail was eating up cyber bandwidth, occupying storage capacity of inboxes, and wreaking havoc on production.

Yan Chaoyuan, chief technology officer of Sina.com, said the portal blocks nearly 200 million junk e-mails on a daily basis - a mission that requires massive input of money and human resources.

However, some savvy netizens like Chen Xiangfeng, a journalism major at Tsinghua University, said he has managed to get rid of junk mails since he opted for a charged e-mail service provided by 263.net earlier this year.

"And I think if we can mete out heavy punishments on spammers, then it will be a good scarecrow tactic. It can also inspire more netizens to co-operate with Internet service providers on the frontline," said Chen.

(China Daily December 10, 2002)

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