Haikus have sting in the tail to stem the tide of spam

, posted: 14-Mar-2003 21:22

A novel idea to combat spam without blocking legitimate email is coming to New Zealand and Australia this month. Devised by US company Habeas, it consists of a haiku - a traditional form of Japanese poetry - inserted into the  headers of each email message. Any message containing the copyrighted and licensed haiku is warranted by the sender not to be spam.

Email headers provide information about the message itself. Not visible by default, they are easily viewed and email servers and programs can use them for filtering.

If spammers use the haiku to send junk mail they risk prosecution by Habeas for copyright infringement and the sending internet protocol (IP) address being added to an "infringers list", which internet providers can use for blocking.

Anne Mitchell, CEO of Habeas, says, "There are only eight countries in the world [NZ is not among them] which are not signatories to or otherwise do not honour the Berne and WIPO treaties [for intellectual property and copyright protection]."

Habeas customers can use the service to "white-list" email recipients - that is, only accept messages from senders with the Habeas haiku, and reject messages without it.

Brisbane-based Vision 6, an email marketing firm, represents Habeas in Australia and New Zealand. Company founder Mathew Myers hopes Habeas "will generate awareness about the issues surrounding spam, spam filters, and how to get around legitimate emails being blocked".

Myers cites research by Assurance Systems of the US which says 15 per cent of permission-based marketing messages are wrongly blocked.

Overseas, Habeas is used by large providers, such as Outblaze of Hong Kong, which manages about 30 million
mailboxes, and MSN-TV in the US.

Gordon Smith, network operations manager at Auckland internet provider Morenet, says Habeas is interesting but "we'll wait until it's proven internationally".

Habeas is free for end-users and internet providers, and costs US$200 ($366) a year for enterprises. Bulk mail
senders pay 1USc a message, with a cap of US$3,000 ($5,491) a month. To try it, go to the Habeas website and sign up for the service. Instructions are available for adding the haiku to the headers of popular email clients and servers.

Other related posts:
Video: Kim Dotcom and Mathias Ortman at the IITP Mega breakfast
Two-factor authentication broken
The problem with naming and shaming

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