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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Spam filter blunders

It is said that at least half of all e-mails sent are spam. As a result most firewalls nowadays have automatic filters to try and restrict the arrival of these missives. Sometimes however there can be consequences as is demonstrated here:

Emails objecting to a house extension failed to reach a council planning department because their computer system blocked the word "erection".

Commercial lawyer Ray Kennedy, from Middleton, Greater Manchester, claims he sent three emails to Rochdale council complaining about his neighbour's plans.

But the first two messages, which contained the word "erection", failed to reach the planning department because the software on the town hall's computer system deemed them offensive.

When his third email, containing the same word, somehow squeezed through it was too late. A planning officer told Mr Kennedy that his next-door neighbour's proposals had already been given the go ahead.

The software used by Rochdale council is designed to filter out any obscene material and thought the word "erection" - used by Mr Kennedy in the context of building an extension - was a sexual term.

It all seems very strange. Surely, these firewalls are capable of being more sophisticated than this.
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