Yakov Shafranovich wrote:
To summarize the article, the following problems apply to sender-pays:
1. The Internet is global - "So implementing Sender Pays would require
an international treaty".
No, it only requires a multinational money-transfer agency, or a group
of such that can collectively manage this. Like Western Union, or the
global banking system, which seems to handle wire transfers just fine
2. "Micropayments remain a problem."
As their volume increases, their individual overhead will go down, due
to economies of scale. It may not be economical for a bank to allow the
transfer of 5 cents, or 1 cent, or a fraction thereof today, but it is
becoming cheaper at a steady pace. Again, not an insurmountable problem.
3. "Payment systems would have to be set up so that innocent parties
wouldn't be stuck covering the cost of other persons' e-mails. Probably
everyone would have to pay some amount in advance to cover the mail we
5. "Here's another interesting problem: allegations have been made that
there are Internet worms and other attacks that create an open proxy for
spammers on an infected system" - "While this particular form of
hijacking is built on old-fashioned SMTP, it would still suggest that
Sender Pays will require that we first solve the open proxy problem—yet
another difficult issue."
3 seems almost nonsensical. Is the author worried about hijacked
accounts? This is already a problem in the world in the form of identity
theft, and it costs more than and does more damage than sending a few
million emails. And the systems to detect this used in the real world
are even easier to apply to email, because there must be some central
point from which the charge is drawn, and unlike credit charges, which
can be delyed, email, especially bulk email, is sent as a large lump,
and is thus easily detectable by whatever credit agent (bank, ISP, w/e)
handles the charges.
5 deals with a non-issue in secure client systems. The malacious agent
would be unable to authenticate itself as the owner or a user of the
system it resides on, and thus messages it sends would be rejected.
Another approach to solving the hijacking problem would be to hold users
liable for any messages sent that authenticate successfully as being
sent by them. This provides an economic incentive to secure one's
system, and could also lead to an insurance system for large entities
(think multi-billion dollar corporations) that would pool this risk and
provide a similar incentive to keep one's premium down.
4. "by adding a cost to a message, Sender Pays would certainly impact
the free e-mail business. Such services would have to decide whether to
pass the costs along or pick up the tab."
Odds are that the elimination of spam will save them much more than this
will cost them. And if it doesn't, they will be forced to adapt or die.
At any rate, a person could certainly consent to receive mail that does
not have a payment enclosed, if they wish to correspond with another
person who is unable to pay for email transmission.
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