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AOL, Microsoft, And Yahoo Form Anti-Spam Alliance

The alliance will focus on ways to block spam and will work with legal authorities on enforcement.

America Online, Microsoft, and Yahoo announced an alliance Monday to block spam.

The alliance, which will be open to other companies, will focus on new technology, consumer protection, preventing use of E-mail services to send spam, setting standards for commercial E-mail, and working with legal authorities on enforcement.

"We are putting spammers on notice that we are collaborating to put spammers out of business," said Brian Arboghast, VP of Microsoft's MSN division and executive sponsor of the anti-spam initiative.

The alliance could result in big changes to the spam flow for business. While companies mostly don't use consumer Internet service providers such as AOL, Microsoft, and Yahoo for E-mail, consumer ISPs are the big targets for spammers, and overall spam flow will likely lessen if users of those ISPs become sufficiently difficult to reach. Moreover, consumer ISP services are frequently hijacked to send spam.

The alliance's goals include:

• Preventing spammers from using deceptive techniques in E-mail headers by using existing directories of Internet addresses such as the domain name system to better identify the location from which E-mail is originating.

• Blocking E-mail from open relays, open routers, open proxies, and other systems open to unauthorized use.

• Eliminating creation of fraudulent E-mail accounts.

• Defining a mechanism to allow exchange of consumer complaints and feedback among E-mail providers.

• Defining best practices for anti-spam E-mail account policies that can be shared across the industry.

• Developing standards for differentiating legitimate E-mail from spam.

• Developing better mechanisms for cooperating with law enforcement, including ways of preserving electronic evidence.

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