Mailshell Adopts “Trusted Sender” Technology

In a step forward for the email marketing industry’s efforts at self-regulation, San Francisco-based anti-spam firm Mailshell has become the first email filter to adopt the Postiva Trusted Sender technology

The technology, developed by consultancy ePrivacy Group and industry-supported Web authentication program TRUSTe, allows commercial email marketers to license special code added to their mailings that signifies that the mailer uses valid subject lines, honors requests to unsubscribe, and follows “fair information practice.”

The two groups also expect ISPs, email client developers and spam filters like Mailshell to license the code, which theoretically would help them to distinguish bulk email sent from compliant mailers and prioritize it ahead of mail from unconfirmed senders.

In Mailshell’s case, users of its SpamCatcher anti-spam software or email escrow service will be able to click on the Postiva icon embedded in email sent by licensed marketers to verify its compliance — similar to the TRUSTe “trustmark” seal of approval for e-commerce and marketing Web sites.

It’s the first time that Mailshell has used a third-party to authenticate senders’ legitimacy. Mailshell has worked with TRUSTe before, however — providing tools to help the group verify that seal licensees were adhering to posted privacy policies.

TRUSTe and ePrivacy Group unveiled the Postiva program in January, announcing at the same time that mailers including DoubleClick , Microsoft , Bigfoot Interactive, RappCollins Innovyx and Virtumundo had agreed to send out campaigns testing the technology.

The news comes just days after a new anti-spam startup, Habeas, debuted with a similar way of authenticating email. Unlike the Postiva solution, which uses ePrivacy Group’s technology to authenticate senders, Habeas plans to use trademark and copyright law to dissuade spammers from misappropriating its verification code.

Also unlike TRUSTe, which is funded by corporate sponsors, Habeas is a for-profit venture and allows only double-opt-in mailers to license its code.

But the parties behind Postiva take a different stance, pointing to technology and industry self-regulation as the answer to the spam problem.

“Rather than focus on penalties to discourage spam, Postiva Trusted Sender raises the bar for wanted and trusted email, securely conveying trust in a cryptographically armored seal that is backed by TRUSTe, the leading non-profit trust authority on the Web,” said ePrivacy Group Chief Executive Vince Schiavone.

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