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A Call From The North: Be Brutal Against Spammers

A group of 10 business executives, consumers, academics, and government officials has spent the past year trying to figure out how best to stop unsolicited E-mail known as spam. The solution: brutalize violators with stiff financial penalties.

A group of 10 business executives, consumers, academics, and government officials has spent the past year trying to figure out how best to stop unsolicited E-mail known as spam. The solution: brutalize violators with stiff financial penalties.That's the gist of a 69-page report forwarded this week to the minister of industry by the Canadian Task Force On Spam. Tough measures are needed on individuals and companies that send these unwanted missives.

The report, Stopping Spam: Creating A Stronger And Safer Internet, recommends new laws to prohibit false and misleading headers; dictionary attacks, a method of guessing passwords by running through a list of likely possibilities, often a list of words from a dictionary; and the harvesting of E-mail addresses. The report also beckons Parliament to enact legislation allowing individuals and companies to sue spammers. "This would set a critical baseline for Canada-opt-in (as compared to the U.S. opt-out approach) with penalties," task force member Michael Geist, a University of Ottawa law professor, wrote in his blog.

Other task force recommendations: improve education, cooperate with other national governments, and form a center of expertise to monitor spam complaints and back law-enforcement efforts. "Taken together," Geist wrote, "the spam-specific statute would be far more robust than the current legal framework and would send an important message to law enforcement that this is a serious issues that demands action."

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