FOX News (April 24, 2009)
" Spammers come in all shapes and sizes. One in particular wears very large sneakers.
"Bill Bradley -- Basketball Hall-of-Famer, Rhodes scholar, former U.S. senator from New Jersey and onetime presidential candidate -- may very well be helping to clog up your inbox with unwanted mail.
"Bradley sits on the board of QuinStreet, which is identified as a major spamming firm by anti-spam organizations such as www.stop-spam.org and www.spamsuite.com.
"Founded in 1999, the California-based QuinStreet lists over 200 employees and posted revenues of nearly $8 million last year. Its clients include ADT home security systems, DeVry University, dating Web sites, video-game publishers and credit-card companies...."
QuinStreet sounds like the list vendors I worked with when I was a list manager for a small publishing firm. Except they didn't spam people, and neither did I. Ethical considerations aside, it's stupid: people don't like spam, and there's always the possibility that they'll transfer their feelings about spam to the company they're getting spammed by.
What QuinStreet is doing, apparently, is pretty much legal.
I remembered QuinStreet while writing a post about swine flu.
There's a connection, I think. Back in the good old days of the 19th century, cholera was a real problem. To keep the number of dead bodies to a minimum, a hodgepodge of local quarantine rules was centralized and coordinated. Later, the Public Health Service Act of 1944 established that the federal government had quarantine authority. I've heard that the new rules didn't go over all that well in some quarters.
Today, we've got serious problems with malware. It's not the obvious killer that diseases like cholera and the Black Death were, but the hours spent de-worming computers and fixing problems caused by viruses, worms, and other malware is a drain on society.
There may be no legal way to stop companies like QuinStreet from producing spam. But, I wonder if something like quarantine would work. My guess is that, if there were 'spam quarantines,' the computers that would be disconnected from the internet would be the spam zombies that got infected by the spammers' malware.
It's a little hard to imagine a firm with a prestigious figure like Mr. Bradley at the helm being sanctioned.
On the other hand, in principle it should be possible to trace spam back to its source - the real source, not the people whose computers got infected - and have that source removed from the Internet.
Sounds neat, but I doubt I'll ever see something like that. For starters, the quarantine system would have to be global. And, there are some very thorny ethical and legal issues involved.
Still: it could work.
- "Texan Family Quarantined: Son has Swine Flu"
(April 25, 2009)
- "Conficker-Infected Computers Send Spam, Fake Anti-Malware"
(April 24, 2009)
- "PINs - Not Nearly as Secure as We Thought"
(April 15, 2009)
- ""Twitter Nitwits" - Catchy Post Title, Pretty Good Advice"
(April 9, 2009)
- "Best-Case Scenario: Phishing"
(March 2, 2009)
- "Google Blacklists Internet - By Mistake"
(February 1, 2009)
- "Blog Day: My Post"
(August 31, 2007)