The Reporter
Issue 498, 5 May 2004
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Law not the answer to internet junk mail

Junk email and other ‘deviant’ behaviour such as hacking and virus propagation on the internet cannot be stopped using the law, according to Leeds researcher David Wall, who is studying the policing of internet activity.

“The internet world is the fastest moving area of life yet seen and attempting to control it solely by law is impossible – we will forever be chasing a shadow,” he said.

Professor Wall said order on the internet can only be achieved by replicating the ways society achieves it – with organisations and individuals playing their part technologically, socially and culturally to marginalise unacceptable behaviour.

Junk email, or ‘spam’, is a major problem on the internet. Comprising up to half of all net traffic, spam consumes network bandwidth and costs society millions to deal with annually.

Professor Wall said users should not reply to spams as it only tells the sender that an email address is valid and reveals information about it. If possible, he said, do not use ‘out of office’ replies, for the same reason.

Also, do not open unsolicited email attachments because the viruses could damage your data files or even install a back door that would allow others to steal your data or your identity.

“We need a broader policing approach to the internet that encompasses public and private legal action against spammers, more sophisticated technological security measures and user education,” said Professor Wall.


Page owner: | Updated: 10/5/04



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