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Bill Gates testifies about spam

Here is a Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates' testimony before the Senate Commerce Committee.

May 22, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Dear Chairman McCain and Ranking Member Hollings:
Thank you for holding this important and timely hearing on spam. I greatly appreciate the leadership of both you and your Commerce Committee colleagues. I regret that we are unable to participate directly, but would like to take the opportunity to share Microsoft's perspective on this critical e-commerce and consumer issue.
The torrent of unwanted, unsolicited, often offensive and sometimes fraudulent email is eroding trust in technology, costing business billions of dollars a year, and decreasing our collective ability to realize technology's full potential. According to some industry estimates, spam now makes up more than 50 percent of all email. To make matters worse, spam often preys on less sophisticated email users, such as our children, posing a genuine threat to personal security and privacy and threatening the very utility of email as a viable communication tool.
Microsoft firmly believes that spam can be dramatically reduced, and that the solution rests squarely on the shoulders of industry and government. There is no silver-bullet solution to the problem. Rather, we believe that fully addressing this problem for the long-run requires a coordinated, multi-faceted approach that includes technology, industry self-regulation, effective legislation, and targeted enforcement against the most egregious spammers.
In terms of technology, Microsoft is committed to providing customers with the best solutions available, and engaging on every level to find new and better technical means to stop spam. To date, Microsoft's investments in anti-spam technologies have already paid off for businesses and consumers through innovations available in new versions of our products, such as MSN, Hotmail, Exchange and Outlook.
The industry is building better filters every day, and is investing heavily in research and development to open the door to greater innovation. We need filtering technologies that are easier for consumers to use, and more effective at determining which email messages are spam and which are desired communications. This differentiation will greatly reduce the risk of falsely misidentifying legitimate email as spam.
While we and others have made significant advances in anti-spam technology, we recognize there is still much work to be done. But technology is not the only answer. Effective and complementary self-regulation efforts by the industry are crucial.
Specifically, we support the establishment of an independent trust authority or authorities around the globe that could spearhead industry best practices, and then serve as an ongoing resource for email certification and customer dispute resolution. In short, these authorities could provide mechanisms to identify legitimate email, making it easier for consumers and businesses to distinguish wanted mail from unwanted mail.

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