Hate spam? No, not the mystery meat, but the unwanted commercial emails touting everything from body-part enlargement to home refinancing. Well, you're not alone. AOL Time Warner
It might seem an unlikely pairing, but as the two largest Internet service providers in the country, they've got an understandable interest in stopping the growing glut of junk filling up our inboxes. Both AOL and Microsoft offer spam filters and blockers, but like roaches finding ways through cracks, spam still seeps through.
And it's seeping through in increasingly large numbers. According to an upcoming report from Forrester Research, email users receive an average of 110 unwanted emails every week. AOL blocks more junk email than it delivers -- 780 million blocked emails a day! The number of spam has grown fivefold in the past 18 months, and it's not likely to reverse course soon. The cost of delivering it to thousands of people is minuscule, so profiting from it is easy.
The trends are enough for Microsoft and AOL to call foul. They want the government to step in and help out. Harsh jail terms for fraudulent spammers, large fines, and the ability to obtain injunctions against spammers who illegally steal and use email addresses are all on the table. The tech giants would also love to see federal legislation to block spammers.
First Amendment concerns have stymied past efforts to shut out spammers, though. That's why AOL and Microsoft are largely focusing on fraud and theft in their efforts. It's an ongoing battle, and one we're not likely to see resolved anytime soon.