Gates suggest Stamps to stop Spam
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Thread: Gates suggest Stamps to stop Spam

  1. #1
    Just a Virtualized Geek MrLinus's Avatar
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    Gates suggest Stamps to stop Spam

    I dunno. I see a few issues with this. Not everyone would be able to do this financially; libraries, public schools, colleges and universities might have issues with this (although it does say that "non-profits" would be excempt); I suspect it would reduce all mail, not just spam and perhaps kill a lot of internet access.

    And who would get the money from this? Would this be used to help the infrastructure of the 'Net or just line someone's pocket?

    Source:CNN


    Gates: Buy stamps to send e-mail
    Paying for e-mail seen as anti-spam tactic

    Friday, March 5, 2004 Posted: 11:25 AM EST (1625 GMT)

    Microsoft's Bill Gates, among others, is suggesting computer users start buying "stamps" for e-mail.
    Story Tools

    NEW YORK (AP) -- If the U.S. Postal Service delivered mail for free, our mailboxes would surely runneth over with more credit-card offers, sweepstakes entries, and supermarket fliers. That's why we get so much junk e-mail: It's essentially free to send. So Microsoft Corp. chairman Bill Gates, among others, is now suggesting that we start buying "stamps" for e-mail.

    Many Internet analysts worry, though, that turning e-mail into an economic commodity would undermine its value in democratizing communication. But let's start with the math: At perhaps a penny or less per item, e-mail postage wouldn't significantly dent the pocketbooks of people who send only a few messages a day. Not so for spammers who mail millions at a time.

    Though postage proposals have been in limited discussion for years -- a team at Microsoft Research has been at it since 2001 -- Gates gave the idea a lift in January at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Details came last week as part of Microsoft's anti-spam strategy. Instead of paying a penny, the sender would "buy" postage by devoting maybe 10 seconds of computing time to solving a math puzzle. The exercise would merely serve as proof of the sender's good faith.

    Time is money, and spammers would presumably have to buy many more machines to solve enough puzzles. The open-source software Hashcash, available since about 1997, takes a similar approach and has been incorporated into other spam-fighting tools including Camram and Spam Assassin.

    Meanwhile, Goodmail Systems Inc. has been in touch with Yahoo! Inc. and other e-mail providers about using cash. Goodmail envisions charging bulk mailers a penny a message to bypass spam filters and avoid being incorrectly tossed as junk. That all sounds good for curbing spam, but what if it kills the e-mail you want as well?

    Consider how simple and inexpensive it is today to e-mail a friend, relative, or even a city-hall bureaucrat. It's nice not to have to calculate whether greeting grandma is worth a cent. And what of the communities now tied together through e-mail -- hundreds of cancer survivors sharing tips on coping; dozens of parents coordinating soccer schedules? Those pennies add up.

    "It detracts from your ability to speak and to state your opinions to large groups of people," said David Farber, a veteran technologist who runs a mailing list with more than 20,000 subscribers. "It changes the whole complexion of the net."

    Goodmail chief executive Richard Gingras said individuals might get to send a limited number for free, while mailing lists and nonprofit organizations might get price breaks.

    But at what threshold would e-mail cease to be free? At what point might a mailing list be big or commercial enough to pay full rates? Goodmail has no price list yet, so Gingras couldn't say. Vint Cerf, one of the Internet's founding fathers, said spammers are bound to exploit any free allotments.

    "The spammers will probably just keep changing their mailbox names," Cerf said. "I continue to be impressed by the agility of spammers." And who gets the payments? How do you build and pay for a system to track all this? How do you keep such a system from becoming a target for hacking and scams?

    The proposals are also largely U.S.-centric, and even with seamless currency conversion, paying even a token amount would be burdensome for the developing world, said John Patrick, former vice president of Internet technology at IBM Corp.

    "We have to think of not only, let's say, the relatively well-off half billion people using e-mail today, but the 5 or 6 billion who aren't using it yet but who soon will be," Patrick said.

    Some proposals even allow recipients to set their own rates. A college student might accept e-mail with a one-cent stamp; a busy chief executive might demand a dollar.

    "In the regular marketplace, when you have something so fast and efficient that everyone wants it, the price goes up," said Sonia Arrison of the Pacific Research Institute, a think tank that favors market-based approaches.

    To think the Internet can shatter class distinctions that exist offline is "living in Fantasyland," Arrison said. Nonetheless, it will be tough to persuade people to pay -- in cash or computing time that delays mail -- for something they are used to getting for free.

    Critics of postage see more promise in other approaches, including technology to better verify e-mail senders and lawsuits to drive the big spammers out of business.

    "Back in the early '90s, there were e-mail systems that charged you 10 cents a message," said John Levine, an anti-spam advocate. "And they are all dead."
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    I'm sure going to put my foot down if they start putting up such stupid things. I don't see how this will solve anything, infact I belive that it will creat even more problems. E-mail is popular due to the fact that its free.
    There are extremely good spam filters out there and 90% of all spam mail is fairly obvious to spot (ie: "adv.penetrate..deeper make..love Better" <- subject of my latest message. Now if you can't spot that as spam then maybe you should reconsider owning a computer!). Its not annoying, all you need to do is click delete.

    I'm very curious however as to how they are going to make sure that people actually pay for their e-mails? Because it didn't take me long to write a copy of Outlook (well not as complex ofcourse ) which worked fine. So whats stopping all the other million programmers to do the same but which avoid these stamps?
    -HDD

  3. #3
    Just a Virtualized Geek MrLinus's Avatar
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    Its not annoying, all you need to do is click delete.
    It does take up space. Given that advent of HTML emails and the amount of spam a person can receive, it can be a waste of resources (SMTP server space, POP/IMAP space and excess network bandwidth usage).

    I'm very curious however as to how they are going to make sure that people actually pay for their e-mails?
    I suspect it will be done via the ISP's SMTP server and/or usage agreements. What this cause is an increase, IMO, of home based SMTPs to bypass this and open up even more doors to viruses (can you image the average home use implementing the simplest of SMTP servers and no clue of security? )
    Goodbye, Mittens (1992-2008). My pillow will be cold without your purring beside my head
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  4. #4
    AO Curmudgeon rcgreen's Avatar
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    I came in to the world with nothing. I still have most of it.

  5. #5
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    One thing i havent heard anybody else mention is what about people who get infected by a worm? Will that cost them for every e-mail the worm sends out as well as all the legit mail sent?

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    If we could see the volume of the traffic the internet carries, Id be interested to see the current volume compared to if you eliminated Spam, popups, and the like.
    I bet the internets usage has to be about 40-50% spam
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  7. #7
    Senior Member nihil's Avatar
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    I really don't see how it could possibly work.

    Most spam that I see is sent via open relays in countries that would not subscribe to the scheme anyway...........communist China for example?

    I think that you would have to look at a far more subtle approach?

    For instance anyone sending less than say 200 e-mails is hardly spamming? Order confirmations and despatch confirmations are not spam, it is called "e-commerce". I recieve product and technical notifications from sites that I have subscribed to (the subscription is important IMHO............I am a consenting recipient)

    ZombieMann makes a very good point about the victims of MM worms?

    I do not think that charging for e-mails will stop spammers, it will just persecute the innocent?

    just my 0.02

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