Imagine an Internet with no e-mail. As ludicrous as it sounds, it could happen. And it won't take some new virus or worm to render the Internet useless. All it will take is unsolicited commercial e-mail, otherwise known as spam.

You think I'm kidding? Consider this: Spam begets blacklists, and ISPs use blacklists to isolate sources of spam. Already, these blacklists are preventing thousands, perhaps millions of innocent e-mails from arriving at their destinations. At the rate we're going, it won't be long before all e-mail ---- spam or not --- ends up in the dead letter bin.

As I described in my previous column, a lot of legitimate e-mail is being blocked from getting to its destination because the system from which the e-mail originates has the same unique Internet Protocol (IP) address as a positively identified source of spam. In other words, if the service provider that hosts your e-mail is using the same physical system to host the e-mail of another customer, and that customer turns out to be a spammer who is discovered by the organizations that run the blacklists, then that system's IP address, along with all of the outbound e-mail (including yours) that comes from it, gets blacklisted


This leads me to believe that if we want something done about spam maybe we should have it affect someone with clout, like AOL. If aol found that none of its subscribers could send email outside of their network something would be done about it on a global scale. Hell, that would be bad for buisiness!