Can spam filters be <i>too</i> effective?

They can, according to this lot. And they're planning to take action
Written by Stefanie Olsen, Contributor

They can, according to this lot. And they're planning to take action

A group of email marketers have set up an internet forum for people to air grievances about spam filters - which can swallow legitimate messages along with the unwanted rubbish plaguing in-boxes everywhere. The Email Service Providers Coalition - a US group whose members are responsible for delivering billions of commercial messages to consumers - designed a forum for people to report missing email that is presumably caught in spam traps, or what are called "false positives". The coalition said it devised the community - called I_Did_Not_Get_My_Email on Yahoo! Groups - as a way to help software companies and anti-spam fighters build junk-mail filters that do not hold legitimate email hostage. Trevor Hughes, executive director of the Network Advertising Initiative (NAI), said in a statement: "The rapid proliferation of spam is a major problem for everyone. We hope the forum will strengthen the measures being employed to fight spam by providing a resource to make the filters increasingly accurate." The members of the group, as well as its sponsor, the NAI, are heavily involved in email marketing and want to make sure it works. Digital marketing and technology companies including 24/7, Avenue A, Digital Impact, DoubleClick, Real Media and ValueClick are among its members. They all either sell technology to power email marketing or host permission-based lists of email addresses that are recipients of advertising messages. But as the glut of junk mail has got out of control, many such companies are concerned that email marketing will be a casualty of the war on spam. Junk mail filters are becoming ubiquitous armour for internet service providers and corporations to fight the rising tide of unwanted email. But as the filters help block spam from in-boxes, they also can delete email from friends, co-workers and marketers that have requested permission to send promotions. Late last month, the NAI formed the Email Service Providers Coalition to create best practices for the industry to help cut back on unwanted email sent to web surfers. The NAI itself was formed in the summer of 2000 as a self-regulatory industry association designed to stave off potential government regulation involving the collection and sharing of consumer data.
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