In the sense that an email address is in fact used by an identifiable
person, it is an identity that is verified in the process of joining a
This sounds to me like a situation where the Internet has evolved
underneath us. Until about 1995, email addresses were generally tied to
accounts assigned to known users of host systems, an employee, a paying
customer, or maybe for us hobbyists, a friend. Then in 1996 Hotmail came
along, and now we have enormous mail systems whose managers have no idea
who their users are beyond the IP addresses they connect from.
The ability of users to sign up from throwaway accounts doesn't seem to
have been a big problem in practice, but it does make it hard to claim
that the lists are free of submarine patent trolls.
Once again, there isn't necessarily anything to fix here, but a useful
context a user can be entirely anonymous (download a web page), fairly
well verified (pay with a credit card), and a lot of points in between.
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