Thought for the day:Hotmail - why the silence from Microsoft?

Hard-hitting IT columnist Simon Moores gives his personal take on the hot issue of the day.Corporate responsibility today means...

Hard-hitting IT columnist Simon Moores gives his personal take on the hot issue of the day.Corporate responsibility today means rather more than promising not to cook the books, or President Bush standing in front of a large sign that promises corporate America's future good behaviour. There's a new ethical dimension to consider that may be just as important as Teflon accounting.

There were 164 junk e-mails waiting for me in my Hotmail inbox on my return from sunny Spain. Roughly ten pieces of junk a day for each day I was away on holiday and it doesn't include the 30 or so items of spam that found a temporary home in my conventional office inbox.

Nothing remarkable, of course. Only the normal rubbish, "Come Visit the Bang Bus", or "Best Buy Epson Ink Cartridges for Office or Home".

Mind you, the challenge of deleting 12 consecutive "Sex Pics of the Day" with the preview pane open is rather more than I expected or even deserve at my age.

Perhaps the only solution is to block all e-mail from any domain or address that I don't recognise. At least this would reduce the load on my inbox, as filters and, especially, Hotmail's own "spam trap", are even less effective than Channel tunnel security.

So why didn't I use my Hotmail account while I was abroad? Cost. I'm using my mobile phone/Compaq IPAQ combination with GPRS enabled. Downloading 164 lurid emails and loan offers could prove very expensive over a wireless connection, so better to delete the lot, en masse, over the office Ethernet.

What surprises me is the silence from Microsoft. Following my earlier comments on the spam problem ( Seeing red over blue Hotmail), I did ask the company for some kind of comment. After all, isn't Microsoft at least morally accountable to its customers?

Hotmail might be a free service - well almost - used by millions of people across the world, and yet Microsoft, aware that the volume of spam and inappropriate content is out of control, offers only a feeble filtering option that collapses within the month.

So, why no official comment? Off the record, people will admit that Hotmail is a complete mess that presents a convenient and high-profile conduit for many companies.

While I'm not suggesting that Microsoft acts as a censor, I wish it could set an example by offering some kind of filtering that can be enabled as an option to screen out the daily diet of Viagra and teenage webcam offers.

Hotmail is only one example. It's the tip of a much larger problem that confronts a world intent on abusing the Internet to its still yet unexplored limits.

So, does corporate responsibility stretch to include an ethical dimension? One associated perhaps with the provision of an online service, or is the concept of corporate ethics as dated and as laughable as the principle of honesty in politics?

What do you think?
Is ethical behaviour part of corporate responsibility in real life? Tell us in an e-mail >> reserves the right to edit and publish answers on the Web site. Please state if your answer is not for publication.

Zentelligence Setting the world to rights with the collected thoughts and opinions of the futurist writer, broadcaster and Computer Weekly columnist Simon Moores.

Read more on E-commerce technology