Archive for the 'Legal' Category

You May Have Noticed…

Friday, April 8th, 2011

Our Friends of Friends/Contacts of Friends feature has been disabled for the time being.  Boxbe has been named a defendant in a patent suit, and while we do not believe the patent to be valid or that Boxbe’s service infringes, we have in good faith disabled this feature.  Sometimes great ideas are taken, to be protected under law, keeping those others who think of them from being able to use them.

We understand this may be a little unsettling to those of you who found the feature to be particularly useful, but “grieve not you; you who are welcome notwithstanding”; Boxbe’s superb system is still robustly distinctive!  And our user community continues to grow vigorously.

Shakespeare, William.  The Merchant of Venice.  V. I. 216-262.


The New Yorker on Spam

Tuesday, August 7th, 2007

New Yorker

“Stopping spam [using Bayesian filtering] is a bit like trying to stop the rain by catching every drop before it hits the ground.”

You had me at hello, Michael Specter.

If you want a well written, literary non-fiction description of the worldwide spam problem, Michael Specter at the New Yorker serves one up this week.


Specter takes the productivity angle with when looking at spam:

If a billion spam messages elude detection every day—which means that ninety-nine per cent do not—that adds up to a hundred and fifty-nine years of collective time lost hitting the delete button every day.

Not to mention sore fingers….


Additionally, Specter shows how little legislation has helped us dig out of our collective spam problem.

In the year after the law was enacted (2003), less than seven per cent of spam complied with the requirements of the legislation, according to MX Logic, an Internet-security firm. Last year, compliance with the law never even reached one per cent.


A great summary of where we are and where we’ve been, but Brad Taylor, spam czar of Google sums most anti-spam software up best:

“But I wanted to fix the problem and return to the bliss that existed before spam,’’ he said. “Often the fight is fun, like a game. But last year there were some low points. We started getting these image spams, and the spammer would adapt to anything we did. He would write software that cut the image into little pieces that reassembled by the time you opened your mail. When we figured out how to deal with that, he started making text that waved around and curved in odd ways. So we figured that out. Then he started with random images.’’ Taylor laughed. “This went on for a while. But, finally, he just gave up. And that’s our hope. It’s kind of like war. One side eventually gets tired. And we just can’t let it be us.”

To you and me, that sounds a heck of lot like an arms race. I’m glad we’re aiming a little higher than tit for tat in the war on spam.


[via Slashdot]

Appeals Court extends privacy rights of email

Monday, June 18th, 2007

479080118_f681fd812f_m.jpgFrom the “you win some, you lose some” department, Wired’s Threat Level blog reports that the “Appeals Court Says Feds Need Warrants to Search E-Mail.”

The Good

“A federal appeals court on Monday issued a landmark decision that holds that e-mail has similar constitutional privacy protections as telephone communications, meaning that federal investigators who search and seize emails without obtaining probable cause warrants will now have to do so.”

Which in and of itself is a good thing. In this day and age, email is such an important part of communication between people, having that communication protected like the telephone seems reasonable.

From the EFF:

“Email users clearly expect that their inboxes are private, but the government argues the Fourth Amendment doesn’t protect emails at all when they are stored with an ISP or a webmail provider like Hotmail or Gmail. EFF disagrees and argues that the Fourth Amendment applies online just as strongly as it does offline.”

The Bad

The bad news is that this new ruling is helping a known spammer, Steven Warshak, weasel his way out of a fraud conviction. Steven Warshak is known for launching Berkeley Premium Nutraceuticals, which sells Enzyte, a controversial “marital aid.”


More coverage of the story

EFF’s Case Briefing
Court to feds: Hands off ‘Smiling Bob’s’ e-mail – Network World
Court Protects Email from Secret Government Searches – Privacy Digest
Regulating the Cloud: Warshak v. United States – University of Chicago Law School Faculty Blog
Email Protected by 4th Amendment, Court Says – Freedom to Tinker
Email Safe From Government Searches – WebProNews
Appeals court: Feds can’t secretly seize e-mail without a warrant – Ars Technica
The Privacy of Internet Email – Monsters and Critics
Volokh Conspiracy – lots of detail and backstory on the case.

photo from Flickr user heathermariecarr