|Your account||Today's news index||Weather||Traffic||Movies||Restaurants||Today's events|
Saturday, May 15, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.
Inbox / Charles Bermant
After promising to fire the big guns against spam, Microsoft has shot off the equivalent of a pop gun.
Its "Bonded Sender" strategy announced May 5 was intended to certify certain legitimate e-mail marketers and allow their communiqués to pass through to Hotmail and MSN users. It may benefit the marketers and will certainly benefit Microsoft. But the users get a big goose egg.
For the past five months, Microsoft has tested the program developed by IronPort Systems of San Bruno, Calif.
Here's how it supposedly works: The marketer approaches Microsoft with a request for access to these users. Microsoft examines the request, determining the legitimacy of their business and the quality of the message, then requires approved senders to post a bond.
This presumably screens out the porn vendors, which is a good thing. But those who pass Microsoft's muster may not pass mine. Maybe my idea of screening is to have a mailbox with no marketing messages at all.
In order for this method to not incur the wrath of the world, it needs a disclaimer, something like "check here if you don't want to receive marketing messages." But this won't happen.
If Microsoft allows us to opt out, it won't be able to charge as much for the bonding fee, which is actually an advertising charge.
Once a marketer is bonded, it is automatically added to the "whitelist" and bypasses all spam filters. Here is where the pop-gun comparison comes in. The approach does nothing to control anyone who isn't bonded, the pornographers and the thieves. Anything of this nature that slips through the current spam filters will continue to do so.
And if we go along with the idea that we actually want to see this stuff, then it does nothing to eliminate what we don't want to see.
Hopefully, it will designate the "approved" marketing messages as such, so we know exactly which unsolicited sales pitches are of value (at least to Microsoft). This will allow users to see exactly how this program works, and raise heck if too many of the messages turn out to be no different from real spam.
You can bet that Microsoft will make some profits here. Channeling them into a direct user benefit would take away some of the sour taste. How about using the proceeds to provide better free software, more online storage or even reduced access fees?
As it stands, this scheme seems like reclassifying a weed as a flower so you don't have to pull it out of the garden anymore. The weed is still a weed, no matter its name. And even if you accept this particular fantasy, the other weeds will still grow like crazy.
If you have questions or suggestions for Charles Bermant, you can contact him by e-mail at email@example.com. Type Inbox in the subject field.
Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company
Home delivery | Contact us | Search archive | Site map | Low-graphic
NWclassifieds | NWsource | Advertising info | The Seattle Times Company
Back to top