Re: on UCE: Possible Interest (fwd)
This thread is missing a key element to the way we all pay for our
use of the Internet.
This latest proposal to set up a clearing system to settle payments
among senders and receivers would put the Internet back in the
Telecom era of billing settlements, where we learned that the
customer's cost of phone service was loaded with 70% allocated to
billing and settlement system operations.
Going back there suggests that our ISP services will cost everyone
(repeat: EVERYONE) 100/30 = 3.33333 times as much as now. I suggest
it is not worth this much as a spam cure. Especially since all this
extra expense goes to our green eye shade friends in the billing
For one, we all pay for all the mail we send, and receive, from some
mystical midpoint between the sender and the receiver. It is
inherent in the business models of ISPs, which charge me (and you ,
and you , and you, and all) for all traffic of all kinds from me to
the mystical middle of every connection caused by me and every
connection accepted by me.
The "mystical middle" is really not a mystery to understand; It is
just impossible to always know where it is. First, think in terms of
local phone calls:
If I call someone on a "local" number, we both pay for half of the
call with our flat rate charge for local service. If I make a lot
more calls that you make, my rate/call is obviously less, but we are
both paying our share of every call, none the less.
But, if I make a non-local call I get to pay time and charges on my
end, and the phone company has to share those charges with the
delivering phone system, which is the root cause of settlement
payments, just because all the charges are collected on one end, or
the other, but not split between sender and receiver as in the
So, In the Internet, what I am calling the mystical middle is that
point between us where our different ISPs hand off to each other as
peers, which tends for many connections to be somewhere in the realm
of the primary level backbone IP networks, which service lower level
ISP on some traffic volume basis (other then peering).
Thus, the logic of peering is that the backbone IP carriers are
getting paid for all traffic in both directions by their customers,
and thus there is no such thing as a need to "settle".
And there is no directional volume differential to argue about.
There is no easy way to balance traffic in both directions in any
case, because most protocols call for unbalanced traffic. Email is
mostly outbound from senders, and incoming for receivers. WEB
surfing is just the reverse.
The only people hurt by spam then are those who pay by the minute for
their receiving traffic, so these people would like to have an ISP
that offers them a way to filter incoming traffic for spam, and other
It has taken many of the IP backbone carriers a long long time to
figure all this "no settlement stuff" out, though it has been clear
to many of us for many years now. The Old Bell Heads took a long
time to figure it out.
The people who care most about spam are those who pay some fee by the
minute for downloading mail they do not want to receive. I expect
they would like their ISPs to offer them POP and IMAP accounts that
can filter out the spam with Black and White filter lists. But, the
black and white lists need to be controlled by the ISP customer, not
by the ISP.
Those of us with DSL or better service do not so much care about spam
wasting bandwidth, but we are bothered by needing to sort through the
cruddy spam. So, an arrangement where I get to bill a bunch of
unknown spammers 5 cents per message is not worth using because they
are not going to pay those bills in any case, and I am not going to
spend money on suing them in China or Russia to get paid.
So, here is what I do. Building the filters is manual as I do it now.
I have invested in about 700 filters, many of which are now obsolete,
so I figured out a better way to do it with black and white filter
I have a white list and a black list. My white list has specific
accepting EMail addresses in it, and the filters do me the favor of
filing all mail into a more or less correct folders. The few that
land in the wrong folder get moved without a lot of problems. Beats
dumping it all into one INBOX for manual sorting, since I only need
to deal with the misses, which are much fewer than dumping it all in
My black list has mostly domain names that match domain names, or
something rather general that catches huge chunks of the Internet.
YAHOO.COM, MSN.NET, CN.NET, NET.CN, COM.RS, EXCITE.NET,
EARTHLINK.NET, MINDSPRING.NET, etc, ad nauseum.
So, my inbox stays rather clean of spam. I don't remember the last
time spam got to my inbox.
The downside is that I also need to scan the trash folder for the
rejected stuff in case I have missed someone in my white list, or
someone changes their address, or something. But, it is interesting
how obvious the good stuff is in a list of mostly spam. I hope that
someone one day builds a Mail User Agent system with these kinds of
tools to help users build such a system.
I do not strongly recommend that everyone do what I do, but with a
little thought, I am sure you can think of something like it that
will be vastly less bother than trying to collect nickels from
I know of only one guy that actually collected $50.00 from some
unfortunate spammer that used a valid From address, and became
convinced that paying was better than getting a summons for a lot
more money based on the Washington State Spam Law, and possibly being
put out of his lucrative spamming business. At his hourly rate, the
$50.00 of found money fell short of covering his time;-)...
So, forget all this business of solving the spam problems with 5 cent charges.
At $10.00/message, you still cannot make such a scheme work, so
filtering is the only answer.
Let's hope that our Mail User Agents and our POP Mail Servers can
find ways to implement some really useful black & white list filters
that we can directly control through desktop of web server interfaces
with good security components.
Among other things, they should provide scannable logs with rich
search tools that identify what filter caused which message to land
There might be some room for also doing some IETF work on defining
some standard headers to support smarter filtering, but I have no
suggestions for this. The problem is to get the spammers to use them
At 9:20 PM -0500 8/19/02, Eric A. Hall wrote:
on 8/19/2002 8:23 PM Larry Smith wrote:
> How very true. Until it becomes "economically" un-profitable to send
> spam, it will continue to both be a problem - and a growing one...
Unfortunately, experience with Usenet has already proven this to be false.
Instead, new idiots are born everyday, each of whom think that there are
millions of potential customers out there just dying to hear about their
pyramid schemes, web sites and lotions.
It's a social problem, not an economic problem.
Eric A. Hall http://www.ehsco.com/
Internet Core Protocols http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/coreprot/