Google, Yahoo to battle spam with new rules for bulk emails

The two companies are both about to kick off new and stricter requirements for bulk senders. Here's what's changing.
Written by Lance Whitney, Contributor
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Google and Yahoo are upping their efforts in the fight against bulk email spam. Starting in early 2024, both companies will kick off new and stricter requirements for bulk senders who use their platforms to send mass emails. On Tuesday, Google and Yahoo both published blog posts outlining the new rules aimed at protecting people from junk mail.

In its blog post, Google said that its current AI-powered defenses stop more than 99.9% of spam, phishing, and malicious emails from reaching the inboxes of its Gmail users. But in the 20 years since Gmail debuted, the email-based threats have grown more complex.

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In its post, Yahoo noted that it has initiated and documented best practices for its bulk email senders. Yet many such senders still fail to properly secure their systems, allowing cybercriminals to exploit their resources.

To further combat junk mail, both companies will implement three new rules for bulk senders.

1. Email authentication. Figuring out who actually sent a spam or commercial email is challenging as email settings can be easily spoofed. To close these types of loopholes, Google and Yahoo will require bulk email senders to authenticate their messages using current standards. This means they'll need to use authentication protocols such as SPF (Sender Policy Framework), DKIM (Domain Keys Identified Mail), and DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance), all of which are designed to prevent email spoofing.

2. An easy way to unsubscribe. Many junk or commercial emails offer no clear or consistent way to unsubscribe. As such, you're often forced to scour through the tiny print in an email in hopes of finding an Unsubscribe link. And even if you manage to unsubscribe, you may continue to receive the same emails for days or even weeks. In response, Google and Yahoo will require senders to offer an unsubscribe option with one click and process such requests within two days.

3. Spam thresholds. Junk and commercial mail senders can bombard people with emails, which means you may receive one mail after another after another from the same sender. To cut down on this barrage, Google and Yahoo will set up and enforce clear spam rate thresholds that senders cannot exceed.

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For Google, the new rules will start in February of 2024 and apply to senders who send more than 5,000 messages to Gmail users per day. On Yahoo's end, the rules will begin sometime in the first quarter of 2024. Though companies like Google and Yahoo are rivals in many ways, the two seem to realize that they need to enforce common rules and requirements to help protect their users.

"No matter who their email provider is, all users deserve the safest, most secure experience possible," Marcel Becker, senior director of product management at Yahoo, said in Google's blog post. "In the interconnected world of email, that takes all of us working together. Yahoo looks forward to working with Google and the rest of the email community to make these common sense, high-impact changes the new industry standard."

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