The problem of spam will soon be solved by charging for entry into consumers' e-mail boxes, according to "Canning Spam: An Economic Solution to Unwanted E-Mail," a new study from the Pacific Research Institute (PRI).
"A pay-to-enter plan eliminates the problems associated with current spam- fighting techniques," said author Sonia Arrison, director of Technology Studies at PRI. "Filtering based on price instead of content avoids problems of false positives and false negatives and steers clear of potential free- speech issues."
"Canning Spam" examines the concept of "e-stamps" and explains why such a system is effective. In order for an e-mail to enter a user's inbox, the sender would have to attach an electronic stamp issued by Internet Service Providers or bought at a separate Web site.
Under an ideal e-stamps program, users would be able to set the price of the stamps themselves and issue "free of charge" stamps to family and friends so that communication among people who know each other can continue unfettered.
"Microsoft chairman Bill Gates recently predicted that the problem of spam could be solved in two years, and given recent developments in the marketplace, that's probably an accurate estimate," Arrison said.
"There's now at least one Silicon Valley company Goodmail Systems that has an e-stamps plan and a service provider interested in trying it (Yahoo). In my view, that means the spam dilemma will be solved very soon," she said.
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