Users Take Own Blocking Approaches

While legislation may help companies fight spam, analysts said technology is also necessary. But for some users, that means taking matters into their own hands.

"There are many things that need to be done to bring spam under control," said David Ferris, an analyst at Ferris Research. Vendors such as Brightmail and Redwood City, Calif.-based Postini Corp. offer e-mail filtering software, which Ferris said can limit the amount of spam that gets through.

"Instead of getting 200 spam messages, you'll get 40," he said. But, he added, the filters aren't very sophisticated - they often block legitimate messages and let a lot of spam go by unchallenged.

Carlson Leisure Group, the leisure travel unit of Carlson Cos. in Minneapolis, strictly guards against spamming potential customers, said Gino Giovannelli, director of interactive marketing at the Carlson-owned Radisson Hotels and Resorts. The leisure unit is currently developing a tool aimed at preventing its various operations from overloading customers who have chosen to receive messages, Giovannelli said.

The software is already being used to manage postal mailings and should be ready for e-mail use by year's end. Giovanelli said the tool helps identify the customers who are most likely to take advantage of specific promotional offers and ensures that an individual receives only a handful of mailings during a given time period.

Other companies are employing more manual methods to try to avoid getting or sending spam. For example, a Kmart spokesman said the retailer is replacing its all@ internal e-mail distribution list because Internet spiders have found that address and spammers are using it to blast out messages to the entire company.

MindShare Design Inc., a San Francisco-based company that manages e-mail marketing campaigns, said it was getting so many spam-related complaints from Internet service providers that it now requires its clients to document how they get the e-mail addresses of intended recipients.

- Jennifer DiSabatino

Copyright © 2002 IDG Communications, Inc.

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