We tend to be skeptical of most government involvement in technology matters, but the French government is trying an interesting experiment that could be worth following. In an effort to stop the flow of spam, it's funded an open-source spam reporting toolbar for both Outlook and Thunderbird that makes reporting spam exceptionally easy. There are already commercial products that do this for the sake of building filters and such -- but this is the first time we're aware of one (though it certainly could be true of others) that automatically forwards the spam to the government. In this case, the system does a few other interesting things. One of the problems with these types of easy-report tools is that people start using it to report emails they don't like -- even if they signed up for it. However, if someone does that with this French service, it will automatically send you back info on how to unsubscribe (assuming the marketer in question has registered). Of course, on the downside, this service will only work for spam that originates in France. If it originates outside the country (meaning: most spam), the system will simply ignore it. It will be worth watching to see how well this works. Certainly, over the last few years, private efforts at filters have gotten much better -- but many still believe that gov't intervention is needed in tracking down the worst spam offenders.
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