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Waging a War on Sending Unsolicited E-mail
Three major Internet application service providers -- China Channel, HiChina Web Solutions and Xinnet -- recently jointly issued a proposal calling for the public, relevant organizations and departments to establish an anti-spam, or unsolicited e-mail union.

The latest move is in response to a tidal wave of junk mail streaming through the Internet.

According to statistics from the China Internet Network Information Center, by the end of June, each of China's Internet users were receiving an average of 13.4 mails each week and 6.9 were junk mail.

Although the harm is only done in the virtual world, it is substantial.

It not only annoys the recipients and cost them time, but much worse, endangers the normal functions of the Internet.

Some beleaguered system administrators and Internet service providers (ISPs) resort to an all-out blockade against the ISPs where spam originates from or is routed through.

Cases like this happened earlier in the year when some Western-based ISPs stopped all messages from several of China's major ISPs, whose servers were exploited by Western spam senders to relay messages.

Such desperate countermeasures may also backfire by blocking legitimate mail, destroying the e-mail system.

It will also impose a huge cost on ISPs as they have to increase the band width of their networks to accommodate the ever-increasing flood of spam.

The efforts of the industry should be applauded as stopping spam is essential to boosting the future development of the Internet.

However, such grassroots efforts are limited against the daily exponential growth of junk mail.

And regretfully, to technically secure a system or try to filter out a flood of junk mail is almost impossible.

Perhaps the only solution lies in making it illegal to spam people.

Some Western countries have already moved in this direction, which is one of the reasons behind Western junk mail senders switching to servers in Asian countries, such as China, to relay their spam.

It shows lawmakers are in a position to come up with relevant legislation to stem unbridled spam activity and enforcing the rules may help deter junk mail in the first place.

As the Internet is an important tool to connect the people of the world, international cooperation in legislation and law enforcement is also necessary.

(People's Daily November 18, 2002)

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