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(It appears to be a HOAX)

Recently a Canadian hoax (similar to a U.S.
version) claimed that Ottawa is trying to pass
legislation -- Bill 602P -- that would allow
Canada Post to collect five cents postage on
each e-mail sent.

"Toronto lawyer Richard Stepp QC is working
to prevent this legislation from becoming law,"
read the message, which supposedly originated
from the offices of Berger, Stepp and Gorman
at 216 Bay St., Toronto, and was supported by
Liberal MP Tony Schnell MP.

And here's the truth:

There's no such bill.

There is no law firm of Berger, Stepp and
Gorman and 216 Bay St. doesn't exist.

MP Tony Schnell doesn't exist, either.

Again, the hoaxers urge recipients to pass the
message on to as many people as possible.

"As soon as I saw that, I knew it was a hoax,
no ifs ands or buts," says Carroll.

"It's just common sense. I think that's the
problem, a lot of people get on the Net and
they forget their common sense."

Some hoaxes, like Internet Cleanup Day, are
funny and quite harmless.

"It's that time again!" the e-mail hoax
proclaims.

"As many of you know, each year the Internet
must be shut down for 24 hours in order to
allow us to clean it."

It thanks you for your co-operation,
apologizes for the inconvenience and asks that
you unplug your computers for that time
period.

There is, of course, no such thing.

So how do you identify a hoax?

"It's easy -- more than three exclamation
marks, you know it's a hoax," Carroll says.
Most hoaxers include excessive emphasis to
make their message appear more urgent.

Watch out for technical sounding jargon.
Hoaxers often use impressive but meaningless
phrases like "hyperdata input port" and
"phasing T-1 server node."

And use Internet search engines to debunk a
potential hoax, Carroll advises.

"Do a search for words or phrases in the
message and you can see that maybe other
people have already identified it as a hoax,"
Carroll.

Above all, make inquiries and never act on any
unsolicited advice received over the Internet
before making sure it's for real.

"Consider who it's from, " says Carroll.

"Is it someone you know, or is it a posting
from somewhere else? If the source is very
skimpy or marginal then it probably isn't
legitimate."


Some facts about Internet hoaxes

How to spot a hoax:

Watch for excessive emphasis (!!! and
BLOCK LETTERS are a warning sign.) Treat
weird technical jargon as suspicious.

Source it:

Who sent you the message? If you can't
identify the person, it's probably not
legitimate.

What to do if you suspect a hoax:

Use a search engine (www.yahoo.com,
www.altavista.com, www.webcrawler.com,
www.lycos.com) and look for a key phrase in
the message. Someone else may have
already caught it.

Don't do it!:

Never do anything an unsolicited e-mail
urges you to do. Check authenticity first.

Hoax-busting on the Web:



ciac.llnl.gov/ciac/CIACHoaxes.html: The
Computer Incident Advisory Capability, and
anti-hoax site run by the U.S. Department
of Energy.

www.cert.org: The Computer Emergency
Response Team, hosted by Carnegie Mellon
University. Studies Internet security
vulnerabilities and provides incident response
services to sites that have been the victims
of attack.

www.nonprofit.net/hoax/hoax.html: Don't
Spread that Hoax! An anti hoax site
maintained by Charles Hymes, an
internationally renowned expert on Internet
hoaxes.



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