To protect consumers from unsolicited email and businesses from lost productivity costsSYDNEY, Australia, Wednesday, June 18, 2003
Microsoft Australia today reconfirmed their commitment to working with government and industry to address the growing problem of spam with the launch of Microsoft's global anti-spam initiative.
"Spam is an increasingly pressing issue for the customers of our products and users of our technology," said Australian Microsoft Managing Director, Mr Steve Vamos.
"Spam now accounts for more than 50% of all email traffic and costs companies world- wide billions of dollars in lost productivity.
"Through the Australian launch of this initiative - and our commitment to addressing this industry-wide problem - we aim to protect consumers, preserve the integrity of the internet and foster a healthy online environment for both businesses and individuals," said Mr Vamos.
Microsoft's commitment to help fight spam has been welcomed by the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Richard Alston.
Senator Alston said that the announcement by Microsoft is consistent with the Coalition Government's commitment to take a strong stand on this issue.
Senator Alston recently released a report by the National Office for the Information Economy (NOIE) on countering the spam menace. The report made it clear that there is no silver bullet against spam. However, a multi-layered approach is required, including action from both Government and industry. Accordingly, Senator Alston looks forward to a close working relationship with Microsoft and other technology industry leaders to combat this growing problem.
Microsoft's announcement precedes a roundtable chaired by the Internet Industry Association (IIA) scheduled for Thursday, June 26 2003 in Parliament House, Canberra where proposed amendments to Federal Government legislation will be discussed.
The Executive Director of the IIA, Mr Peter Coroneos commended Microsoft on the announcement of their initiative saying, "A co-ordinated approach by the technology industry, Government and regulators working together across national boundaries is called for. We appreciate and commend Microsoft for taking this lead and look forward to working with the industry as a whole to ensure, in particular, that internet users are made aware of anything they can do to reduce the risk of receiving spam."
The anti-spam initiative in Australia mirrors efforts being taken in other Microsoft markets globally.
The key pillars of the anti-spam initiative are:
1. Partnering with governments and industry
Microsoft is committed to strengthening public and private partnerships to protect consumers from spam.
Microsoft is working with state, regional and Commonwealth Departments, NOIE and the Internet Industry Association (IIA) to provide input, guidance and support to Commonwealth legislation.
"As a company we believe it will take industry and government co-operation to turn the tide on spam and restore to consumers and businesses the promise of a safer and more productive email experience," said Mr Vamos.
2. Anti-spam technology development
Microsoft has begun to implement anti-spam technology in its products including the releases of Exchange and Outlook in Office 2003. These technologies include new filtering capabilities to make it easier to distinguish wanted email from spam and verify whether the senders of messages are who they say they are.
MSN networks globally already block 2.4 billion pieces of spam each day (approx 80% of email messages reaching MSN servers). In addition, MSN has a number of new technologies to help consumers keep their email addresses out of the hands of spammers and reduce the growth of email accounts which can be used to distribute spam:
- Spam list creation deterrent technologies including Human Interactive Proof (HIP), to combat automatic email account registration - HIP has already cut email registrations by 20%.
- Powerful spam filters which protect 120 million Hotmail users worldwide, including image filters, also three levels of junk mail filtering at the inbox level as well as intelligent filters than can be manually taught to recognise spam.
Microsoft will continue to target business, industry and consumers in broad education outreach across Australia over the coming year. In the first instance, Microsoft will be working closely with industry and governments to provide information on how consumers can protect themselves from spam, including, optimising mail servers to avoid relaying spam. Microsoft and its joint venture subsidiary, ninemsn have already commenced action on this through their partnership with the IIA's anti spam campaign.
4. Taking legal action against spammers
Enforcement is a key pillar of Microsoft's anti-spam initiative and legal action is being taken to stop some of the most egregious e-mail practices afflicting Microsoft customers.
In line with this commitment, Microsoft today announced that it has filed 15 cases in the United States, the United Kingdom and Belgium to protect consumers against alleged spammers.
The defendants are responsible for flooding Microsoft's customers and its systems with billions of fraudulent and deceptive unsolicited emails, commonly referred to as spam.
In many of the cases currently being fought, defendants are alleged to have used deceptive subject lines, such as "Your Visa bill" or "Credit Card Refund," to disguise e-mails that actually contained explicit photos, advertisements for human growth hormone, home loans and dating services.
In other cases, defendants are alleged to have "spoofed" the domains of Microsoft or other third-parties - making it seem that the spam originated from "hotmail.com" or other recognised senders - in an effort to mislead recipients and to circumvent anti-spam filters.
Microsoft will continue to take legal action throughout the globe to step up their efforts to identify, investigate and take action against those who disrupt the Microsoft services and prevent Australian consumers from having the best possible online experience.
"Microsoft is committed to working with governments and the industry over the coming months and years to combat this problem," said Mr Vamos.
"We have a responsibility as an industry leader to help address the issue. By focusing alongside industry and government on a four-pillar approach to the problem, we aim to play our part in turning the tide on illegal and unwanted email," said Mr Vamos.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software - any time, any place and on any device.
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