Will ENUM be a spammer's fantasy come true?

by Glen Gillmore

Related link: http://www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/press/2003/enumpr_02122003.htm

The US Department of Commerce is recomending that the US participate in something called ENUM, a global domain set aside for electronic numbering (e164.arpa), which links e-mail addresses, telephone numbers, fax numbers, and cell phone numbers--allowing us to have both voice and data communications through one single identifier, either a telephone number or an e-mail address.

Here is a link to the copy of a letter Assistant Secretary of Commerce Nancy J. Victory sent to Ambassador David A. Gross, U.S. Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy:


If implemented correctly, this might prove to be very useful, and it not, very dangerous. Will this make it easier to spam me everywhere and anytime?

What are the pros and cons?


2003-02-14 19:00:07
Spammers? No. Homeland security? Yes.
This initiative will have no effect on spammers. My email address is already available in many places online. My phone number is already in the phone book. My pager and mobile numbers are already available from my business. My cell phone company already provides a text messaging email address.

Spammers already have access to this information. I already get lots of spam and telemarketers calling me. I already get text message spam. They don't need to match a phone number to an email address because they already spam everything indiscriminately. What would they do differently if they knew their email spam had already been sent to me via text messaging? Nothing, they would send the message anyway. ENUM is irrelevant to spammers.

What ENUM is not irrelevant to is homeland security. If I send (for example) a threatening email today, they can only track it to an ISP or router. But if I send an ENUM-enabled email they can track it to a cell phone or desk phone. Both these things have my home or business address associated with them, which my email address does not. If I say someone else used my account, they can check to see if that someone else has used my phone as well and try to get a voice recording of that person. It provides a new way to track down email and telephone users.

The other thing it does is make it more of a nuisance to change my phone number or email address. If I move and get a new phone I'll get a new email address too, even if my email address is not associated with my home location.

No sir, I don't like it.