IT Confidential: Filter This--Ignorance Is Bliss, Or Is It? - InformationWeek
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John Soat
John Soat
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IT Confidential: Filter This--Ignorance Is Bliss, Or Is It?

One defendant used logos of well-known financial institutions.

Spam used to be like Mark Twain's old witticism about the weather: Everybody talks about it, but nobody does anything. Not any more. Legislators, both state and federal, are rushing to enact anti-spam laws, and most companies are rushing to implement spam-filtering systems. Last week, the Federal Trade Commission and 12 federal, state, and local law-enforcement and consumer-protection agencies trumpeted an anti-spam initiative showcased by more than 30 law-enforcement actions, including "three FTC complaints and four settlements with spammers caught in an FTC sting," according to the agency. Law enforcers sent letters to 100 spammers warning them action might be taken "if they continued their fraudulent scams." Also, the FTC published results of a program called Spam Harvest, in which it and 10 other agencies looked at what consumers do online that puts them at risk for getting spammed. Brightmail, an anti-spam software vendor, says spam attacks increased by more than 300% last month, compared with October of last year. Sprint last week introduced an anti-spam, antivirus program called Sprint Email Protection Services. And while Sprint may have a tough time convincing businesses to turn over E-mail filtering to a third party, more companies are doing it in-house and creating a growing chorus of user complaints about the E-mail spam that's still getting through and the important E-mails that aren't.

The Supreme Court last week agreed to review a decision made earlier this year by a Philadelphia appeals court that struck down a law granting federal funds for Internet access only to libraries that implement filtering software on public computers. The Philadelphia court ruled that Internet-filtering software was a "blunt instrument" that served to censor potentially First Amendment-protected free speech. Congress passed the Children's Internet Protection Act in 2000, and it was challenged by groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Library Association, and Planned Parenthood. The Court will hear the case next spring.

CIO/CFO power struggle solved? Harmon AutoGlass, a national franchise windshield repair-and-replacement business, last week tapped Robert Bishop as the company's new CIO and CFO. In his dual role, Bishop will manage both the financial and the technology groups at Harmon AutoGlass and "lead the company's efforts to develop and implement an advanced technology platform for claim-management solutions," according to a statement. Bishop had been working with Harmon AutoGlass as a consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers.

CIO/CFO--isn't that an oxymoron, like jumbo shrimp? Seriously, I couldn't take the pressure--one side of me would be green-lighting innovative IT solutions, while the other side was nixing them with a flurry of pen strokes. Got a solution to such solipsism, or an industry tip? Send it to or phone 516-562-5326. If you want to talk about E-mail filtering in business, Internet filtering in libraries, or how to get along with your CFO, meet me at's Listening Post:

To discuss this column with other readers, please visit John Soat's forum on the Listening Post.

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