The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the influential Net standards body, has set up a research group geared to fighting the spam menace.
Although there's no shortage of tools designed to filter out spam from legitimate email, the industry has yet to come up with a co-ordinated approach.
Enter the Anti-Spam Research Group, formed under the auspices of the IETF's Internet Research Task Force, which is dedicating itself to developing a co-ordinated approach to combat the problem of unsolicited commercial email.
First the Anti-Spam Research Group (ASRG) will try to develop a consistent definition for spam, which is not as easy at it might at first seem. Following on from that the ASRG wants to develop a mechanism whereby users can "express consent or lack of consent for certain communication and have the architecture support those desires".
The group wants to develop a framework with three components: consent expression, consent enforcement and source tracking, as explained in more detail here.
The ASRG is looking to develop a "taxonomy" of the spam problem and put forward proposals for tackling the issue, which it hopes will be easy to deploy on a wide scale. It's too early to say whether protocol changes might be proposed as part of this work.
The ASRG will not look into the legal aspects of fighting spam, except in so far as these issues affect technical approaches to fighting spam. Spam mitigation needs to be carried on many fronts so current research efforts to apply Bayesian analysis in weeding out spam messages from legitimate email and to slow spammers down using tar pits, are complimentary to the work of the ASRG.
The ASRG is to hold its first meeting on the morning of Thursday, March 20 as part of the 56th IETF conference in San Francisco. ®