BT is an unlikely sounding pioneer in the global battle against spam, but that is exactly the role the UK telecoms giant is adopting as it claims to be implementing the world’s first fully-automated spam buster system to track down and tackle professional spammers but also botnet-infected customers on the BT broadband network.

As always, you need to look behind the headlines to get at the real truth, and the pioneers here are really StreamShield Networks, the company whose Content Forensics product has been selected by BT to drive the spam detection system. This will scan millions of messages every day, providing BT with detailed reports on the location and size of spam-related problems originating from the BT network.

But let’s not jump on BT simply for being BT, where’s the pleasure in that? The fact that the spambuster system will enable the BT Customer Security team to take immediate action against professional spam operators, including the termination of rogue accounts and adding offending IP addresses to industry-wide blacklists, is not to be sneezed at in a fit of pique.

“In a world-first, we’re turning the tables on professional spammers and cutting off this scourge of the internet at source”, said Stratis Scleparis, CTO at BT Retail. “We are delighted to work with StreamShield Networks on this innovative approach which both tracks down and reduces spam messages on our network, and at the same time helps our customers overcome the threat of infection by bots.”

“Our Content Forensics solution has been developed with large ISPs such as BT in mind and delivers a powerful solution to the problem of professional spammers and botnets on ISP’s broadband networks”, comments Simon Gawne, CEO StreamShield Networks. “We are excited that BT has selected our solution after extensive testing in their network and we look forward to working with them in the future.”

It will be interesting to see what actual impact this all has on the amount of spam received by BT broadband customers in the UK, and if anyone can be bothered to challenge the world’s first fully automated spam buster claim. I’m pretty sure that it isn’t, although I’m equally sure that BT can point to some small detail which allows the claim to stand. But at the end of the day fully automated isn’t as important as 100% successful.

Certainly, in the scheme of things, I am more concerned right now with the possibility of Spamhaus, a proven weapon in the fight against spam, losing their web domain and effectively going out of business if the US federal court orders ICANN to suspend the domain. ICANN has already said “I can’t” but it remains to be seen if that will holds up when faced with a federal order. Spamhaus claim to block 50 billion spam messages every day by way of a blacklist/blackhole system, and if they are closed down that flood will be realized into your mailbox and mine. Oh, and why are they facing this threat, because they didn’t bother to fight a legal action brought against them by an email marketing company in the federal court as it has no jurisdiction over the British based Spamhaus.

It could just prove to be one of the most costly money saving strategies of recent times, not just for Spamhaus but for all of us...