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Unsolicitated Electronic Mail

  Judy Richards IT/DIS

Over recent years, we have become accustomed to finding unsolicitated mail in our letter boxes at home and have developed ways of living with it. The legal system plus social and economic pressure have limited gross abuse but far from resolved the problem.

With the expanded availability of the Internet we are now seeing the same problem in our electronic mail boxes. The problem is recognized world-wide and a lot of effort is going on to understand how it can be controlled. Several key court cases are underway, especially in the USA, and on the Internet itself some of the most active newsgroups are devoted to the subject.

Software to enable some degree of filtering of mail as it arrives at gateway machines is now beginning to become available. The new version of sendmail which we have recently installed on the central mail machines contains some of these features. However, even putting aside policy issues concerning filtering, the technical problem is that it is only "after the event" that you know what to filter. Unfortunately, today it is still easy to hide the true origin of e-mail and in most cases of mass mailing the 'From' address of such mail is not a valid address to which you can send your complaint.

So, for the time being there is no "magic solution" - you will have to make do with the 'delete key' of your mail agent. We will continue to do what we can and we will keep you informed of any progress.