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Wow, 2002. Amazing. Almost as amazing as the scope of the changes we're making to spam.abuse.net this month. :-) We hope you like our redesign. It's the first step in an effort to both bring our existing information sections up to date with the current state of the spam wars, and to make spam.abuse.net the site of choice for return visitors.

Speaking of the spam wars, how are they going? Well, sad to say, not as well as we would have hoped. On the legislative front, things peaked in mid-2000 when HR3113 passed the US House of Representatives on a 427-1 vote. CAUCE, the anti-spam organization, and where our editors have spent most of their effort over the last couple of years, helped bring this victory about, but CAUCE was hit hard by the dot-com collapse of 2000. Your Humble Editor-in-Chief is between jobs and looking hard himself, and some of the money and resources that CAUCE were able to bring to bear during the boom are no longer available to us.

That said, action on the ground continues. California Assemblyman Tim Leslie's new bill, AB 1769, holds good promise of keeping spam from invading our pagers and mobile text messaging. 19 US States have passed anti-spam laws, and there have been a few small court victories. Anti-spam legislation isn't even dead in the US Congress, though since the events of September 11th, 2001, it has been a back-burner issue for many.

The bad news is that spam volume continues its upward trend. We've been collecting statistics on volume since June, 1998. Back then, we averaged 16 spams a day. Now it's almost 80 a day, a 400% jump. Since August, 2000, it's gone up 8% a month, every month, more than doubling every year. That's one heck of a lot of spam. The fact that we predicted this back in 1996 is really not very much consolation.

We don't have a functioning crystal ball, so we won't be making much in the way of predictions for the spam wars in 2002. It's a pretty safe bet that there won't be much movement on spam issues in the US Congress this year; there's just too much in the way of major issues, partisan and otherwise, for us to expect something as comparatively trivial as spam to get attention. On the other hand, we expect the trend at the state level to continue; increasing numbers of state legislators "get it" about spam.

On the technology front, we really don't expect much. While MAPS isn't dead, it also has had to retrench. On the other hand, we are seeing increasing numbers of businesses getting into the spam blocking and filtering arena. If nothing else, the interest companies have in stopping spam is indicative of their founders' seeing spam as a problem in need of a solution. We have long championed a mix of social, technical and legal approaches to the spam problem, so we think new entrants into the technical field are a good thing.

Scott Hazen Mueller / E-mail me