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June 14, 2004 - Image 3

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2004-06-14

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The Michigan Daily - Monday, June 14, 2004 - 3

vSirn'the Blues

'U' researchers propose
solution to spam e-mail

By Chloe Foster
Daily Staff Reporter
The battle between the common Internet user
and spam e-mail drags on - a state of war in
which there are no rules and no higher authority to
whom one can appeal forjustice.
But a research team at the University's School
of Information suggests that some level of
accord may be in sight.
Doctoral students Thede Loder and Rick Walsh
and Assistant Professor Marshall Van Alstyne said
their solution for reducing spam is setting a price
for spam senders in hopes that sending spam will
ultimately become too expensive.
"This mechanism hits spammers where it hurts
most - their wallets," Van Alstyne said.
The team's plan is called Attention Bond
Mechanism and is unique because it is designed
to strike a deal between e-mail senders and the
recipients by requiring senders to pay those recip-
ients who do not want their email.
(The purpose of ABM is) "to provide an effi-
cient means for two parties to discover if they have
a potentially fruitful relationship (where both might
benefit), while forcing senders to think carefully
about who is receiving their e-mails so that they do
not waste the time, effort and resources of the
intended recipient," Loder said.
The ABM software will filter the inbox, noting
which senders are not pre-approved by the user,
or not on their "whitelist." When a spammer
sends an e-mail to someone who has not already
agreed to receive the message, ABM will send
the spammer a "challenge message."
Loder said the the message will read, "Dear
sender of an e-mail, you have attempted to
contact a user of ABM, but this user does not
have you listed as someone pre-approved for
contact. If you still wish to reach this person,
please authorize the transfer of 10 cents to his
escrow account, then resend the e-mail and
reference your proof of payment."
He added, however, that the 10 cents is an arbi-

trary number. The ABM user decides how much
an email sender must risk in order to send the e-
mail successfully. Therefore, if an ABM user sets
his price at 60 cents per message, senders who
are only willing to pay an amount lower than this
sum will not have access to the user's inbox.
Once the sender receives the challenge
message and decides it is worth risking what-
ever sum of money the ABM user has posted,
the sender authorizes the payment and
resends the message. If the user decides not
to accept the message or that the message was
abhorrent or simply uninteresting, he claims
the money.
But will this be forever farewell to
"Enlarge your penis" and "Lose 50 pounds in
two weeks" e-mails?
"It would certainly reduce the volume of spam
because illegitimate senders simply cannot afford
to get into anyone's mailbox," said Van Alstyne in
a written statement.
"I would like to have access to software
like (ABM). Anything that would stop spam
because I hate it so much," said LSA senior
Dave Mallozzi.
But other students felt that ABM could cre-
ate problems.
LSA senior Dana Ciccone said that she fears
the system may have some unintended effects,
such as complicating e-mail communication
even further.
"It seems like something that looks good on
paper but nothing else," she said.
The next step for the team may be to market
their idea, but for now, they said they simply want
to provide an impetus for the market and con-
sumers to realize that they can both benefit.
"We're just as tired of spam as anyone else,"
said Loder, "But if we received 50 cents for each
spam, that might be tolerable"
Spam now represents about half of all e-mail
traffic on the Internet, according to Brightmail
Communications, a company that provides soft-
ware for secure e-mail exchange.

I Ray Charles, the Grammy-winning crooner who blended gospel and blues, died Thursday, June
10, 2004 In Beverly Hills, Calif., a spokesman said. He was 73.

Continued from Page 1
of both the Senate and the House, and
*n when approved, to Gov. Jennifer
Some lawmakers, however, dismissed
the amendment and said its foundation
rests on shaky ground.
It "is terribly ill-advised and totally
unconstitutional," said Joe Schwarz, for-
mer state senator and former chair of the
Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on
Higher Education.
He added that the amendment con-
stradicted the state constitution.
The constitution guarantees that the
Wiversity's Board of Regents is the
only body with the authority to change
its own policy, said Schwarz, a Republi-
can who is now running for the U.S.
House of Representatives.
Schwarz echoed the predictions of
officials like Hunter and Dan
Farough, press secretary for the
House Democratic caucus.
"This is a shot across the bow. My
Wectation is when the bill gets to the
Senate it will be taken out," Schwarz
said. "There is a whole body of court
cases going back to the 19th century on
the relationship between the legislature

and the universities that says the Legis-
lature cannot mandate that any of the
universities do anything."
The University will be one of the par-
ties fighting the amendment.
"There are many steps, and we would
be working as the process proceeds to
make our views be known," Peterson
In lieu of the predicted demise of the
amendment, Democrats are confident
that its caucus will remain unified.
"Because the Republicans offered an
amendment that holds the higher educa-
tion bill hostage," the passage of the bill
became a sensitive issue for Democrats,
Farough said.
Farough said that the dispute should
not lead to any further disagreement
within the party.
"I don't think there is any serious fis-
sure in the Democratic caucus," he said.
"We're fighting to spend our time on
jobs, healthcare and education - not
the issues that divide us"
Similarly, Hunter added, "It won't be
a permanent rift, so long as the leader-
ship ensures that this breakdown never
happens again."
In spite of its case history, those in
favor of the amendment are still
Rep. Leon Drolet (R-Clinton Twp.),

the author of the amendment, called it
"another venue to end the practice of
universities judging people on their
Drolet is also a co-chair of the Michi-
gan Civil Rights Initiative, an initiative
that wants to make the use ofracial pref-
erences unconstitutional in public bod-
ies, including the University.
"Since the House already approved
this language, in the conference com-
mittee, I'll be talking to the senators to
try to ensure that this amendment stays
in," he said. "This is what I have been
trying to do with the ballot initiative for
the past nine months."
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