It's Just this Little Chromium Switch Here

Weblogging and commentary by Chip Rosenthal

Freelotto can go to Hell

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My mail server is under attack by freelotto.com. Over the past week, Freelotto has spammed the non-existent user ldjones@unicom.com 368 times. And it didn't start last week, they've been at it since February 2002!

HB 1282: Rolling Again

The Bad Texas Spam Bill passed out of committee last night. It's now on its way to the Senate floor, where it's certain to be approved. It is, however, a little less bad than it was two weeks ago.

Most importantly, the 90-day license-to-spam loophole has been closed. That would have been a disaster, giving spammers free reign to our mailboxes. We got the time period for processing opt-out requests reduced to three days. That means there could be some miserable weekends ahead for many of us, but total meltdown may have been averted.

Unfortunately, the problems with laughable penalties and barriers to private action remain. Spammers will be emboldened, knowing that a person bringing action will pay more to file in small claims court than they'll collect in damages.

HB 1282: Weighing In

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The hearing on the Bad Texas Spam Bill is scheduled for tomorrow. I've spent the last week amassing a packet that I will be delivering as part of my testimony. The packet includes a number of letters in opposition to the bill. I want to recognize and thank all the people who have helped by writing a letter.

The list includes:

Thanks to everybody who helped, and I hope our combined effort convinces the Committee that this bill won't help the spam problem.

Felten on Challenge-Response

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Link: A Challenging Response to Challenge-Response.

Prof. Ed Felten has added his voice to those concerned about challenge-response anti-spam systems. He makes the excellent point that the early adopters may see some benefit, but ultimately the system breaks down. That's what the geeks mean when they say something "doesn't scale."

Big, Big Week

It's showtime!

For the past several weeks I've been acting as an unpaid, volunteer lobbyist for EFF-Austin, slogging through a couple of bills currently before the Texas legislature. The session ends in two weeks, so everything is now coming to a head.

I've been working on two bills, one on open source software and another on spam. In both cases, we're fighting some powerful interests who don't see things our way, like Microsoft. That, naturally, makes us the underdog. We are, however, doing what we have to do and our cases are strong.

It's been quite an experience, getting in there and watch them make the sausage. I've invested a tremendous amount of time, energy and sweat--and pissed off several clients in the process. Here's hoping it all comes to some good.

Sunrise Tacos and Subs

I was driving home down South First, despairing that there are few choices for sandwiches other than sub chains. Maynard's Deli and Phoenicia Bakery are good choices, but not always convenient. And it's not like South Austin couldn't stand more than two good sandwich shops.

In Your Face

I thought it was time to create a Food and Drink and Coffee category, so I now have. It's called "In Your Face." I recently blogged a restaurant review. Now, maybe I'll do some more.

Challenge-Response Harmful to Mailing Lists

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Link: TidBITS Policy on Challenge-Response

I recently blogged an argument against challenge-response anti-spam systems. I was glad to see it, but concerned it may be a tad inscrutable to the non-technical reader. Then I saw this article, explaining the policy of the TidBITS mailing list, and thought it did a good job of breaking down some of the problem.

HB 1282: Article on the Bad Spam Bill

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Link: Texas Spam Bill: Who We Trying To Help Here?

I wrote an article on HB 1282 for Kuro5hin, a web site with community written news and commentary. The article posted to their op-ed section this morning. It summarizes the situation with the Bad Spam Bill.

And if you tell me it should have been whom and not who, I swear I'm going to come over there and hit you.

Finally! The Argument Against Challenge-Response

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Link: John Levine: Challenge-response systems are as harmful as spam

A new--and rather evil--wave is sweeping the net. More people are using challenge-response (C-R) systems to protect their email inboxes against spam. If you send email to somebody protected by C-R, your email is intercepted. Their C-R 'bot will send back an email that demands you complete some challenge (click a link, answer a question, quack like a duck). If you respond correctly, then it assumes you aren't a spammer. Your email is passed along and you are whitelisted against future challenges.

That is, providing you aren't protected yourself by C-R. In which case your C-R 'bot challenges back, and the little tango runs ad infinitum, until the net suffers heat death.

That's just one of the problems with C-R. Many people have been watching the growth of these systems with some consternation. Finally, John Levine has taken a stab at documenting some of the deficiencies of C-R. Kudos to John!