The War on Spam has tried a few more conventional tactics, but is still not making any inroads against the unconventional spammers.

Starting last October 1 in Japan, it became law for unsolicited emails to carry the words ‘mishodaku kokoku’ (unsolicited advertisement) in the subject line of e-mail advertisements. Immediately, of course, Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo started filtering all email containing this legally mandated phrase. Now, several months in, their informal investigation shows that the spammers either skip putting on the required phrase, or else misspell the words in an attempt to appear to comply, but actually get past the filters.

Japan is also famous for having the ‘wangiri’ (single ring call) scheme. The companies call mobile phones but only ring once. This leaves an unanswered call notification on the cellphone. Many unsuspecting users try to return the call, and reach the scammers instead. This problem was so bad, it has even paralyzed local phone networks jammed with so many attempts to one-ring phones.

In the USA, the Attorney General for the state of Missouri has proposed legislation to set up a ‘no-spam’ list for the state similar to state ‘no-call’ lists that fine telemarketers from contacting any resident that has registered their number on the list.
Something tells me that any ‘wangiri’ legislation has the best chance of actually working. Like the ‘no-call’ list situation, when a marketer uses a telephone, even if they manage to disguise the number from the unknowing call receipient, they have to obtain service from and connect through a government-licensened common point, the telecom operator. They will be able to specificallly determine where the abuses are actually accessing from and cut off their service.

The internet, and by extension the mobile spam, has no such boundaries, including being able to spoof the origin of the message. But if the heat is on, the spammers can move to another country outside the jourisdiction of whatever law is enacted, something that is cost-prohibitive for telemarketers to do in scale.

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