Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Google hacks!  Whickety whacks!I somehow missed this CNN article in which Google is rumored to be creating their own email service... web-based, one would assume.

Interesting take-aways from the article:

1) GoogleMail would be an additional, lucrative channel for AdWords (its "sponsored links" advertising program).

2) It PPC (pay-per-click) model -- under attack due to fraudulent click-throughs by bots, unscrupulous advertisers, and the like -- can transmogrify itself into a less fraud-prone service. It's easy to track, for example, a specific user opening an email -- and by then customizing an encrypted click-through URL for that user - cut down on bogus clicks.

My impressions and suggestions:

1) GoogleMail will have to offer a free account option (a la Hotmail) because they are so late to the game. A premium service will have to be very, very good to get conversions. Webmail and email client technology is already competitive enough.

2) Here's how GoogleMail can make a dent in the spam wars and dramatically improve the user experience. Users who report spam -- and are accurate with their reports -- should have their "SpamRank" scores raised. Similar in concept to "PageRank", a SpamRank correlates the probability that a given email is true junk-mail. But here's the kicker: users who have high SpamRanks (i.e., their reports are accurate, based upon this very democratic ranking approach)... get premium services for some period of time. Good advertising vehicle for premium services, motivates users to team up against spam, improves the user experience for everyone. Nuff said. No-brainer. Someone send this to the GoogleMail gurus.

3) GoogleMail should have the option of integrating my Orkut friends' list. Hey, my address book is already in Orkut. I want it in GoogleMail, too, with a single 'Yes, that's cool' permission click.

"In fact, Google's AdSense contextual ads are already used in a number of e-mail newsletters," he said... As an aside, BadBlue's email newsletters are serving Google AdSense ads.

Sources: Google developing ad service for e-mail

Is password-lending a cybercrime?

Authentication: From Passwords to Public KeysIn an almost insanely wrong-headed decision, a federal court rules that a willing password lender could be subject to a DMCA violation! SecurityFocus reports:

In a little-observed civil lawsuit involving tracking of magazine subscriptions, a federal court in Manhattan issued a ruling last week that could theoretically result in prosecutors going after people who use another person's password and userid with their permission, but without the permission of the issuer.

The case, decided last Monday, arose out of a dispute between two competing companies, Inquiry Management Systems (IMS), and Berkshire Information Systems, both of whom tracked magazine advertisements for their clients. Employees of Berkshire obtained a userid and password from a client of IMS, and used them to access IMS's website and tracking service. This act violated the customer's agreement with IMS.

From there, the Berkshire employees either read, or downloaded (or both) certain copyrighted information about the tracking of magazine advertisements, which of course, they used to compete with IMS.

Is this an unfair and deceptive trade practice? Sure! Inducing a breach of contract between IMS and its customer? Absolutely! Fraud? Sure, why not.

But IMS sued Berkshire for computer crime, and a violation of the DMCA...

Password-lending a cyber-crime?

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