Microsoft has submitted its solution to the spam problem - Sender ID - to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) for consideration as an industry-wide standard.

The draft technical specification of an e-mail authentication system combines Microsoft's Caller ID for e-mail (which was submitted to the IETF for consideration in May) with Sender Policy Framework (SPF), authored by Meng Weng Wong, CTO at Pobox.com. Meng submitted SPF to the IETF in February. The two agreed to combine solutions last month.

Sender ID maintains lists of IP addresses from which sent e-mail can be traced, and if adopted as a standard, could provide a way to close loopholes that allow e-mail senders to spoof or fake the origin of their message. The unified specification is aimed at simplifying industry adoption of effective e-mail authentication technology, Microsoft said. There remains some who are not convinced however.

The IETF is also considering another mail authentication submission from Yahoo called DomainKeys. DomainKeys works differently from Sender ID by using encryption to generate a signature based on the e-mail message text that is placed in the message header.

IETF is a large open international community of network designers, operators, vendors and researchers whose work is carried out in working groups that operate mainly through mailing lists. The IETF holds three meetings a year, with the next one scheduled to take place in San Diego at the start of August.

The push for an e-mail authentication standard has recently been gaining more attention. On Tuesday, the Anti-Spam Technical Alliance's (ASTA), whose members include such high profile e-mail providers as Yahoo, Microsoft, AOL and EarthLink, released its recommendations for stemming the tide of spam, or unsolicited commercial e-mail.