2013 closes on a joyous news note!
Pretty rare that the news makes me happy these days, but this story fills me with joy, admittedly of a perverse sort, which probably suits the original crime. Why? Because this little escapade has to end well. Hopefully he will be caught soon and resist arrest, resulting in a nice long extension to his little vacation in prison. He's already earned extra with the break, but a spammer deserves the extra for resisting arrest, too. Alternatively, he will remain in hiding, feeling the fear but too terrified to resort to his his old spamming ways. If there is one thing he does not need now, it is the publicity of spamming again.
That's part of why this entire spam thing amazes me: ALL of the spammers are waving big red flags. "I'm a criminal, and come to this website so I can rob you!" There are minor variations, but all of the interesting spam boils down to that kind of "Look at me! I'm a criminal" broadcast. (Most of the less interesting spam fits the same shoe, too.)
Why don't the big email providers fix the spam problem? I'm not saying that anything can turn the sociopathic spammers into decent human beings or that we can eliminate all spam, but we could certainly reduce the profitability of the spammers' business models, and this would drive most of the spammers to move under less visible rocks.
Imagine an integrated anti-spammer system built into the largest email providers. After all, without their support, the spammers' business has to fail. It would involve several rounds of automated analysis and human confirmation. Wannabe spam fighters would help the system categorize the spam and target the appropriate countermeasures to break ALL of the spammers' infrastructure, pursue ALL of the spammers' accomplices, and help and protect ALL of the spammers' victims--especially the victims who are stupid enough to feed the spammers' scams, but also such external victims as the corporations whose reputations are slammed by the spammers' vile abuse. There aren't many suckers available for the spammers, but there are LOTS of people who hate spammers and if it were made easier for the wannabe spam fighters to intervene, the thin links between spammers and suckers can be broken. This kind of system can also evolve to break any new models the spammers devise.
Here's a simple and concrete example. These days spammers often use dropbox email addresses on other systems. This analysis system would initially identify these addresses, for example by distinguishing them from other victims or joe-job addresses. In the second round of the analysis, the system could report on results of previous complaints to the relevant postmaster, perhaps offering upstream escalation as an option, or voting for a higher sanction of the email provider in question. One of the most obvious "extreme sanctions" that this could support would be a "delivery delay" sanction. If an email provider is slow about cutting off the spammers' email dropboxes, then the targeted email system would delay the delivery of email to and from that system. Some of the Yahoo subsidiaries are obvious examples, especially the Hong Kong Yahoo. Imagine the effect if Gmail imposed a policy like this: "If you fail to nuke a spammers' dropbox within 20 minutes of our reporting it to you (based on 5 human-confirmed reports), then we will delay all email to and from your system by your OWN response time to such complaints. Good luck in explaining your incompetence to your users."
Yeah, I hate spam more than the average bear, but I don't feel lonely just because I'm at that end of the bell curve. Why don't the email providers help turn some of such hatred of spammers into fondness for the email providers who really hurt the spammers?