Chargeable e-mail, can it be an anti-spam measure?
According to expert estimations the amount of spam in the global Internet traffic is much more than a half. While optimists consider it to be around 60% pessimists insist it is not less than 80%. Anyway, this advertising rubbish exceeds the total amount of useful information and the worst thing about it is that so far no efficient ways have been found to stop its growth. Every new anti-spam measure is soon quite easily avoided by inventive spammers.
One of the radical actions that could theoretically stop spam spreading was proposed by Bill Gates early this year. The chairman of the world largest software company believes that it is possible to solve the spam problem in the nearest future if all the e-mail providers charge their users for sending e-mail messages. The similar idea was also proposed by BellSouth and AT&T telecommunication companies. Finally, two biggest American e-mail providers, Yahoo and America Online, have decided to try to realize this idea. Now, they plan to introduce a charge of 0,0025-0,01$ for a single e-mail message, which they suppose will be negligible for users sending only private or business letters but will result in huge sums for spammers who send thousands or even millions letters every day. Paid messages will also have higher priority than ordinary messages and will be delivered to e-mail boxes avoiding any spam filters.
This idea, of course, has provoked many strong objections and one of the first was from a leading anti-spam organization - Spamhaus. Richard Cox, chief information officer of Spamhaus, said that the initiative of Yahoo and AOL restricts Internet users' civil rights and also contradicts with the very idea of the World Wide Web. "Internet has become what it is now due to the freedom of communication. Open discussion - this is its value. Net services must be free of charge and, in particular, e-mail must be free of charge and accessible for everyone in the world," - Cox said and also added that he has strong doubts about the anti-spam efficiency of this initiative.
In fact, professional spammers do not use for their activity such providers as Yahoo or AOL. Spammers want to remain anonymous and to work as long as possible, which is why they usually choose providers that do not really care about their clients' business and usually in the countries where spamming is not yet a crime.
With all this being said, chargeable e-mail will be an efficient anti-spam solution only if the initiative of Yahoo and AOL is adopted by the absolute majority of e-mail providers. Unfortunately, here it is hard to disagree with Cox: first of all this will never happen but even if it happened there would be no Internet anymore.
However, there still could be some positive effect of this idea. For instance, in business environment people are used to assume that every quality service must have its price. It is quite possible then that businessmen will prefer to use chargeable e-mail and e-mail boxes used for business will accept only paid messages. This can be a guarantee of no spam in Inbox if, of course, spammers do not find a way how to send paid e-mails for free.
Apparently, the anti-spam struggle will ever be a race without a winner. When once there is a new anti-spam measure, which slows down the spam flow, there is very soon a response from spammers who ultimately find a way to avoid every obstacle.
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