April 5, 2006

At What Price False Positives?

At What Price False Positives? As has been covered in many places, including Direct and The Wall Street Journal, Verizon settled a lawsuit yesterday over “too aggressive” spam filtering, or what we in the business call false positives — filtering out legitimate, non-spam emails as spam.  This is a huge problem that part of our business at Return Path, our Delivery Assurance Solutions group, has been fighting for years. The gist of the settlement is that Verizon is changing the way it filters spam to make sure more legitimate mail gets through, and that it is refunding various small amounts of money or free months of service to customers who complained about the problem. I am NOT a believer in lawsuits like this at all.  Also, I think the act of filtering aggressively enough to catch the spam but not so aggressively as to cause false positives is a very difficult balancing act that most ISPs actively struggle with every day. So the outcome here is that a bunch of consumers will receive money or refunds or free service ranging from a few dollars up to potentially $100.  The seven class plaintiffs are going to receive $1000 each for their […]


November 10, 2004

For Whom the Bell Tolls, Part II

For Whom the Bell Tolls, Part II Great news for fans of Vonage and other Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) services.  Today, the  The Wall Street Journal (that link may only work for a week or so) reported that FCC Chairman Michael Powell just drove a successful vote to declare VOIP an interstate service, exempt from state regulation and really paving the way for much smoother and broader adoption. I’ve received a number of comments on my earlier posting which sang the praises of Vonage and VOIP, and apparently not everyone has had the same positive experience as we’ve had […]


September 22, 2004

Political versus Corporate Leadership, Part II: Admitting Mistakes

Political versus Corporate Leadership, Part II: Admitting Mistakes The press conference this past spring where President Bush embarrassingly refused to admit that he had ever made any big mistakes, other than to reiterate his gaffe at trading Sammy Sosa when he owned the Texas Rangers, brings up another issue in this series: is it good for leaders, both political and corporate, to admit mistakes? On the corporate side, I think the ability to admit a mistake is a must. Again, I’ll refer back to Jim Collins’ books Good to Great and Built to Last, both of which talk about humility […]


August 5, 2004

Challenge Response: Oy!

I don’t think the news about AOL buying Mailblocks and its challenge response anti-spam product is such a big deal in the grand scheme of things. But it does give me a quick opportunity to rant against challenge/response. First, I don’t think the world is in danger of mass adoption of challenge/response. Earthlink, which in general has much more sophisticated customers than does AOL, has had a hard time gettings its adoption level of this up to the 7-10% level over a period of at least two years. I think it will be even tougher for AOL. I applaud AOL […]