updated 10/20/2005 9:11:21 PM ET 2005-10-21T01:11:21

A trade group for marketers is requiring its members to adopt a spam-fighting technology that could help improve the chances of their legitimate pitches getting through.

Businesses have been increasingly frustrated that overzealous spam filters are blocking newsletters, coupons and other e-mail requested by customers. Some estimates say that as many as one in four legitimate marketing messages get mistakenly rejected.

Separate authentication technologies pushed by Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo Inc. would help an Internet service provider verify that a message's sender is accurate and authorized. Spammers often use fake e-mail addresses, so those messages would fail authentication tests.

The Direct Marketing Association, in approving the requirement this week, did not say which system its members must use.

John Levine, co-author of "Fighting Spam for Dummies," said the move might make sense for marketers worried about being lumped with spammers, but users shouldn't necessarily consider it virtuous.

"In reality, it's something that their members are doing anyway for straightforward business purposes," he said.

In fact, many spammers themselves are adopting such authentication technologies as a way to appear legitimate. That's fine, said DMA spokesman Louis Mastria, as it forces them to identify themselves and brings them out in the open.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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