Before Spam Brings the Web to Its Knees

To halt the scourge ISPs, Congress, tech outfits, and big thinkers are chewing over charging for messages, regulations, smarter filters, and more

Last May, Amanda Bernard's e-mail box was suddenly deluged with 20,000 identical messages. For weeks, the flood stopped the 32-year-old New Yorker from using her account. "Every time I tried, my computer froze and crashed," Bernard remembers. "I eventually had to get a programmer friend to go in and delete everything." Since then, she has been hit five more times by hundreds of pieces of spam from direct marketers -- but never to the point where her PC has crashed and burned. Oh, and what was that crucial message that Bernard received 20,000 times? "How to make my penis bigger," she laughs.

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