January 29, 2004, 12:00 AM

After CAN-Spam, next step is authentication technology, says Digital Impact

Digital Impact, one of the largest e-mail service providers, heads for Washington next week to meet members of Congress and the FTC over the spam issue, while ISPs prepare technology to filter out spam before it hits users’ in-boxes.

In the midst of a growing spam problem, one of the world’s largest e-mail service providers is dispatching a contingent to Capitol Hill to ensure it’s part of the solution. Digital Impact Inc. CEO William Park will meet with senators and congressional representatives next week to discuss the issue, while the company`s director of ISP relations is meeting this week with the Federal Trade Commission, the body charged with enforcement of new federal CAN-Spam legislation. Digital Impact is part of an industry group, the E-Mail Service Providers Coalition, which has been focused on spam for the past several months.

While calling the new law “a great start,” Digital Impact senior vice president of products and marketing Kevin H. Johnson says the next step in a multi-level effort to stop spam rests on sender authentication technology still in development at ISPs.

“One of the good things about CAN-Spam is that it makes hiding sender identity illegal. So the next step is finding a secure identification system so the gateways, the ISPs, can identify whose e-mail is coming in and who they can trust,” says Johnson. Currently, he adds, major ISPs including AOL, Yahoo and MSN are experimenting with different versions of such technology.

“Six months ago there were no experiments and no recognition that this was a solution,” Johnson adds. “Now we have a law and the three biggest entities out there working on their versions of a solution. The next step will be going from multiple experiments to something that’s an industry standard we all can work with,” he says.

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