Be on the wave or under it
The News – 05/22/03
Law Enforcement May Lack Money to Pursue Some Internet
It’s no secret that most state
governments are strapped for cash and running large deficits.
One place they’re trying to economize is in law enforcement,
by not pursuing non-violent crimes as strenuously as they may
have in the past. I recently heard that at least one state is
no longer prosecuting identity theft cases because they take
so much time and money.
This is a sad, but understandable,
result of failed government policy.
But what this means is that identity theft, if left unchecked,
is likely to rise dramatically. While the states may be too
cash-strapped to do anything about it, the feds are still serious
about identity theft and other Internet-enabled crimes. One
great federal resource is the US government’s identity theft site.
The Feds are also getting
serious about spam and other types of Internet fraud. Recently
a group of law enforcement agencies led by the Federal Trade
Commission filed 45 criminal and civil actions against Internet
scammers and deceptive spammers. The agencies involved include
the Securities and Exchange Commission, three United States
Attorneys, four state attorneys general and two state regulatory
agencies. In addition, 11 other federal and state law enforcers
filed 37 actions. So it’s good to see that the States are still
pursuing some kinds of Internet crimes.
This latest flurry of activity
notwithstanding, I can’t say I agree with Howard Beales,
director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, who said,
“Today's Internet is not a lawless environment.” There’s little
difference between having laws that are not and cannot be enforced
and a lawless environment, in my opinion. Congress can pass
all manner of stupid, clueless Internet laws (and Lord knows
they’ve been doing just that), but the fact remains that spam
and Internet-enabled fraud are global phenomena. Unless and
until all nations have effective laws and effective law enforcement,
there’s no real point in one nation’s legislation.
Cracking down on spammers
and fraudsters in this country will simply force the miscreants
to go elsewhere. Until there is effective global policy and
law enforcement, the only result of new laws and new prosecutions
will be to give US citizens a false sense that the government
is doing something about the problem.
With Internet spam running
at 50 percent of email messages, and with the majority of those
spams being fraudulent, there’s no doubt we need to do something.
There is one effective move
that the government is making: closing open email relays. (An
open relay is a site that will allow anyone – not just registered
users – to either create or forward a message using its mail
servers.) The FTC said that it has joined 17 other consumer
protection and law enforcement agencies in calling for organizations
to close open relays. Using open relays allows spammers to disguise
the real origin of their e-mails by routing their messages through
servers of other organizations. Doing so also
end-arounds spam filters that depend on black lists of offending
Is your organization running
an open relay? Ask your local techie. If he or she says, “Huh?”
call in an expert to ensure your company is not contributing
unwittingly to the spam deluge. And if you are unable to get
senior management to approve such an effort, remind them of
the concept of downstream liability (discussed in a previous
So when you look at the enforcement
situation, it would seem to make better sense to pursue identity
theft than spammers. If the result is that identity theft perpetrators
move offshore – and target other countries – then that’s a good
thing, right? It seems much more effective than tilting at the
spam windmill, and a better use of federal and state tax dollars.
Sales and Marketing
- Shameless Self-Promotion Dept.: My article,
“Innovative Marketers Target Unwired Customers” was published
in the NetSuds newsletter.
Coming Soon: A new eBook, Be
On the Wave Or Under It™ will collect the best of SNS’
insights over the last couple of years, along with additional
material from CTOMentor white papers
and new material. It will make a great gift (Father’s Day?)
for associates and friends in need of a guide to the latest
and greatest technology. Watch for more information in upcoming
I was quoted extensively on eLearning
in a recent issue of the Minneapolis magazine, Upsize, which
is aimed at growing businesses.
A couple issues ago I debuted SNS Begware,
an opportunity for you, gentle reader, to express your appreciation
by tipping your server via PayPal.
See the sidebar for more info. Total in the kitty so far:
$46.48. Thanks, Mike!
I’ve reworked the TrendSpot and Opinion
sections, adding a Prediction
Tracking page to track the various predictions I’ve made,
and also added a Stuff I Said page with some quotes of things I said a
decade or so ago on the Net.
I repurposed and adapted an article about the wireless service
known as Short Messaging Service (SMS) for the Reside newsletter.
It’s entitled, Wherever they go, there you are
and it points out how marketers can use – carefully – this
new way to contact their customers.
I’m featured in Manyworlds’ Thought Leader Showcase, which lists a few of the white
papers I’ve done. I’ve also added their fancy icon to the
- Young Nano Scientists: Alert SNS Reader Roger Hamm sends
along this link to an extraordinary program in the Wayzata,
MN public schools: the Young Scientist Round Table. Funded
in part by the General Mills Foundation (known locally as
Generous Mills), the Round Table sponsors evening presentations
for youngsters and their parents by local scientists. One
speaker early this year was the CEO of Magenic
Technologies (“Home of the .NET Superheroes”) and on May 6, the young scientists and their parents saw Dr.
Girshick of the Dept. of Mechanical
Engineering at the University of Minnesota speak on nanotechnology.
While this is way cool, we’ve got a lot to do to catch up
with German youth, who learn about nano
on the back of their cereal boxes (see picture).
Young Scientists Round Table
- The Continuing Saga of FeaturePrice: Regular readers may remember
I recently had to scramble to find another hosting company
for the StratVantage Website. I wrote in a previous
SNS about the bizarre open letter that appeared on that company’s
Web site and my frustration with getting any customer service
from them. Well, it seems to be even more bizarre than I first
figured. According to an article in The Whir, the owner of
FeaturePrice turned down lucrative
offers to sell his business and instead went out of business.
Yet at least one of my old sites is still up. Very strange. The following
paragraph from the article illustrates the weird (and unconfirmed)
particulars of the situation:
owner Travis] Johnson is believed to have suffered an anxiety
attack after Feature Price's merchant account holder, Nova Information
Systems, alarmed by the number of charge backs on customers'
credit cards, stopped processing new accounts for Feature Price,
say sources familiar with the situation. Upon rejecting the
offer to sell Feature Price in April, Johnson posted his infamous
letter on the site, listing all five companies that did due
diligence interested in buying Feature Price - GlobalHost,
IPowerWeb, Atlantic.net, SERVER4FREE and Affinity - and essentially
outlined the acquisition terms except for the financial details.
Johnson also wrote that customers had two weeks to leave, essentially
trying to destroy the value of the company.
This incident underscores
the need for businesses to select a reputable Web hosting
company. I’ve gone with AdvancedRack,
who, although small and new, are
backed by a large successful Web design firm. So far, I’m
- Pull the Plug on PowerPoint: A recent
article in Business 2.0 on effective (and ineffective) use
of Microsoft PowerPoint let me to a truly hilarious PowerPoint
purporting to be from Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. The best part of this ersatz presentation
is the slide entitled, “Not On Agenda!”
It lists things we’re not going to do today – you know, “we
cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this
ground.” I about busted a gut laughing about it. The Business
2.0 article is good too, but be sure to read the “The Making
of the Gettysburg PowerPoint Presentation.” It’s a good
lesson not only on bad design and egregious PowerPointing,
but also on the power of a good idea on the Internet.
I Want This Phone: At the recent Minneapolis meeting on International Entrepreneurs
Meetup Day, new Alert SNS Reader
Eric Strauss snapped a picture of your humble correspondent
on his nifty new Nokia 3650 cell phone. This smallish unit
integrates a VGA Digital Camera and full motion audio
and video recorder. The
resulting picture is nothing to write (or even phone) home
about, but understand that it was taken – and emailed to me
on the spot – in a dark bar by a cell phone, for crying out
Return to Mike’s
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About The Author
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Can’t Get Enough of ME?
In the unlikely event
that you want more of my opinions, I’ve started a Weblog. It’s the fashionable
thing for pundits to do, and I’m doing it too. A Weblog is a datestamped
collection of somewhat random thoughts and ideas assembled on a Web
page. If you’d like to subject the world to your thoughts, as I do,
you can create your own Weblog. You need to have a Web site that allows
you FTP access, and the free software from www.blogger.com.
This allows you to right click on a Web page and append your pithy thoughts
to your Weblog.
I’ve dubbed my Weblog
entries “Stratlets”, and they are available at www.stratvantage.com/stratlets/.
Let me know what you think.
Also check out the TrendSpot for ranking of
the latest emerging trends.
14, 1928 - July 5, 2003
Jane C. Ellsworth
20, 1928 - July 20, 2003