Society set to kill off spam, academic says

E-mail spammers will be driven out of business within two years because society will not accept being held to ransom, according to Ravi Sharma, adjunct associate professor in the division of information studies at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University.

"The spam problem will be fixed -- it must be fixed," he said during a presentation at the Asian Telecommunications Industry Exchange forum Wednesday. "In society, you never have a majority suffering under an onslaught from an inconsiderate minority. An equilibrium will be achieved."

Although government initiatives have yet to show any signs of eliminating unsolicited e-mail, Sharma believes that the prevalence of spam will prove its downfall.

"It (the elimination of spam) will happen within one or two years, simply because it is so intolerable," he said.

Sharma said that the best immediate solution is tracking down IP (Internet protocol) addresses from where spam originated and blacklisting them.

The issues of spam and fraud on the Internet have important implications for e-commerce, which relies utterly on trust between the participating entities, Sharma said.

"Two-way trust is fundamental to e-commerce," he said. "Customers must know that what they see is what they will get, and merchants need to know that customers are in fact who they say they are."

One element of trust is an agreed-upon dispute resolution procedure for online transactions, according to Sharma.

"Just because you're doing business online, it doesn't mean problems go away," he said. "There still has to be a procedure like traditional return or complaints offices."

If trust and security can be achieved online, the benefits will be enormous in Asia, Sharma said.

"By the end of this decade, the mass markets of India and China will make the slogan 'it's e-business or out of business' a reality," he said.

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