China shuts door to spam

China has blocked 127 servers sending high volumes of unsolicited email, in an attempt to change its reputation as a spammers' safe haven

China has woken up to the problem of spam and blocked 127 servers identified as sources of high volumes of unsolicited email.

The move is likely to send shockwaves through the international community of spammers who previously had regarded China as a safe haven in which to base their operations. An estimated 100 of North America's most prolific spammers are based in the suburbs of Beijing, according to Steve Linford, president of the London-based Spamhaus Project, which runs a spam-blocking service.

Many spammers placed their servers in and around Beijing because they believed they were safe from Western law and of little interest to the Chinese authorities. But if that situation is now changing a drastic rethink may be in order.

The Internet Society of China announced on Tuesday that 127 servers have been blocked. Of these, eight are based in China itself, 90 are in Taiwan and 29 are located elsewhere around the world. Any emails sent from these servers will automatically be blocked from reaching Chinese internet users.

"This has been the first large-scale spammer blockade launched by the Chinese Internet industry," Ren Jinqiang, an ISA official, told the official state news agency Xinhua.