How to Stop Junk E-Mail: Charge for the Stamp

The best idea for getting rid of spam is in today's New York Times: simply charge the sender to deliver the message. This will asphyxiate spam immediately, because no spammer who has to pay 1 cent per message to send 1 million pieces of junk e-mail will pay it. 

As the receiver, you simply set your filters not to accept any email that does not have postage on it.  "No stamp, no entry," write Randall Stross on page 5 of Section 3, the Sunday Business Section of the February 13, 2005 paper.

The idea is so simple I'm astonished it hasn't been adopted yet.  Not only would email postage annihilate spam, it would be a new revenue source for ISPs, AOL, Yahoo and EarthLink, as they collect money to send emails.  Email postage certainly beats the CAN-SPAM law, lawsuits against spammers, port-blocking notions or stamping messages with digital signatures -- all of which have failed pathetically.

The idea mirrors the postal system: you can send out third-class junk mail, but you just have to pay a little something for it.  It forces the senders to be very targeted and careful with their mailing lists.  It permits recipients to get those discount hotel and airline offers they want to get.

The article is online at pass the link on.

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Comments (2) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Philip Franckel, Esq. - February 13, 2005 2:35 PM

Great idea, however, I don't think it will work. While a fee may not bother you or I, charging $0.01 per message will penalize low income families who are trying to scrape enough together to pay ISP monthly access fees. At that rate a family with several people using e-mail could pay an extra $30-$90 per month.

Additionally, since the charge is substantially less expensive than bulk mailing with the US Post Office and mass e-mailers will also save the extra expense of printing, envelopes and handling, mass e-mailers will continue to send spam.

Furthermore, having the opportunity to send mass e-mail at $0.01 per message, thus guaranteeing that the e-mail will actually get through will be well worth the cost of sending the e-mail. If a mass e-mailer has a choice of paying $0.01 per message, knowing that the e-mail will be successfully delivered, or sending their mass e-mail without paying and without a guarantee of successful delivery, mass e-mailers will opt for paying for small fee.

In conclusion, I believe that charging a fee for e-mailing will result in additional hardship for low income families and the substantial benefit for mass e-mailers, possibly even resulting in more mass e-mail.

Philip L. Franckel, Esq., President
1-800-HURT-911, Inc.

david - February 14, 2005 11:23 PM

I don't think this is a good idea, because wont be the only ones affected. What happens to people who legally collect email with opt in request online? What would keep them from being affected and having to pay this fee? Another thing if yahoo or any of the free email account sites where to put this postage stamp into affected. They could no longer consider themselves free. And many people would not use there free email accounts anymore.

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