US Direct Marketers appear divided on the feasibility of new proposals to halt spamming.

Top internet service providers Yahoo!, America Online, Microsoft and Earthlink have announced new technology to combat spam or junk email.

One solution traces an e-mail's Internet Protocol address. The other, Domain Keys, developed by Yahoo!, checks an email's public domain name against its private signature.

The ISPs are still trialing the technologies before deploying them, although H Robert Wientzen head of the Direct Marketing Association is skeptical. "The devil may yet be in the details," he said.

The DMA believes the courts are the best way to deal with spammers. It has already spent $500,000 (€409,000; £273,000) investigating them and reporting the culprits to the authorities. There are fifty cases pending action.

On the other hand some legitimate bulk emailers support the venture. "It's impressive [and] akin to the airlines working together to make sure all the flights leave and arrive on time," said Markus Mullarkey, of CNET Networks, a group which sends 100 million opt-in emails a month.

The protocols are the result of the Anti-Spam Technical Alliance which the four ISPs launched in April 2003. They aim to agree an industry standard.

"We are working slowly but surely to move closer to an email authentication process that the rest of the industry can adopt," said AOL spokesman Nicholas Graham.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff