NTT DoCoMo turns up the heat under spam

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NTT DoCoMo, has announced new countermeasures against the growing problem of spam e-mail. The measures include blocking bulk spam from entering its system, and taking additional legal action against companies sending spam (spammers).

DoCoMo has already taken a variety of countermeasures, including enabling users to change e-mail addresses via handsets and providing 400 free packets of data communications each month. Nevertheless, certain companies have become increasingly devious.

To eliminate the heavy burden that bulk spam places on its network server, the company intends to begin blocking any e-mail sent to large numbers of invalid e-mail addresses.

This will also inhibit the ability of spammers to generate lists of valid e-mails. At present, some spammers send bulk e-mail to huge numbers of addresses generated by a computer. Valid addresses are accumulated through a process of elimination, since any invalid address that triggers a "user-unknown" message from the server is dropped from the list. With the new blocking function, however, mass spammers will no longer be able to receive these messages.

Blocking by Users
Although the above change is expected to substantially lower the number of spam sent through the DoCoMo system, it will not eliminate all unwanted e-mail. Accordingly, DoCoMo will again encourage users to change their addresses. About 90% of users have changed the default address originally assigned to them, but some people are still receiving spam, most likely because their new addresses have been placed on updated mailing lists.

DoCoMo will also strengthen ways that customers can block unwanted e-mail. Beginning next January, for example, users will be able to restrict incoming e-mail to a maximum of 10 user-designated domains.

In addition, new handset models to be marketed in the fiscal year 2002 starting next April will enable users to check the subject line of an incoming e-mail prior to downloading. The user can choose not to receive the e-mail and simply delete it.

Other measures currently available to users include limiting incoming e-mail to user-specified addresses, changing current addresses, blocking user-specified addresses and requiring senders to include a user-supplied password.

Legal Action
DoCoMo is strengthening its legal action against spammers. On October 29, the company won an injunction against a Yokohama-based company that was sending bulk spam to large numbers of invalid addresses. DoCoMo is to take similar legal measures, including suing for damages, whenever suitable.

In any appropriate case, the company will seek similar preliminary injunctions against anyone sending bulk spam to large numbers of invalid e-mail addresses, since this can place an excessive burden on system equipment of DoCoMo.

DoCoMo will also take other steps against spammers in cooperation with other mobile telecommunications operators.

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