[Mimedefang] Almost OT: AT&T patents anti-antispam technology
scuba at centroin.com.br
scuba at centroin.com.br
Wed Nov 19 14:23:35 EST 2003
Did you see that?
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Subject: [SPAMBR] AT&T patents anti-antispam technology
AT&T patents anti-antispam technology
Last modified: November 18, 2003, 4:53 PM PST
By Paul Festa
Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Citing an "arms race" in the ongoing spam wars, AT&T defended its patenting
of a technology to thwart antispam filters.
The patent, awarded to AT&T on Nov. 4, describes a "system and method for
counteracting message filtering."
The patent details a way to trick filters that compare digital messages to
known pieces of spam, altering each message so that no two are exactly the
"In this way, spam countermeasures based upon duplicate detection schemes
are foiled," according to the patent.
AT&T's patent wins approval as spam and software patents separately
preoccupy the Internet. Opponents, pointing to patent-infringement judgments
like that won by Eolas Technologies at Microsoft's expense, say software
patents have created a siege mentality in the industry. And the spam problem
has resulted in a host of proposed solutions in the software, standards and
AT&T's award left patent and spam foes scratching their heads, questioning
the company's interest in an anti-antispam tool.
"Why is ATT inventing and patenting a method for e-mail spammers to fight
spam-filtering systems?" Greg Aharonian, publisher of the Internet Patent
News Service, wrote in his Patnews e-mail newsletter. "Some legitimate
e-mail is being blocked by spam filters, but the solution is not new
techniques to make spam more spammable, but rather coordination among ISPs
(Internet service providers) and backbones to quickly shut down spammers."
AT&T Labs, the Florham Park, N.J., unit where the patented technology
originated, said the patent was purely defensive.
"This is an arms race, and (Bell Labs researcher Robert Hall) tried to stay
one step ahead of the spammers," said Michael Dickman, a spokesman for AT&T
Labs. "He anticipated that spammers would try to change the message to
circumvent the filters."
AT&T said it is re-evaluating the patent now that it has been granted and
has not yet decided how to use it.
Spam foes have criticized AT&T in the past, pointing to at least one
instance in which a sales agent signed a so-called pink contract to provide
a known spammer with Internet service.
But one Internet activist said the pink contract didn't cause her to doubt
AT&T's intentions with respect to the patent.
"Did AT&T screw up by signing that contract? Yes, absolutely," said Laura
Atkins, president of the SpamCon Foundation. "Is its existence proof of some
great conspiracy by AT&T to spam the world and allow their users to spam the
world? I don't believe so."
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