Wednesday, October 08, 2003

WHICH DO YOU FIND MORE INVASIVE -- JUNK MAIL (THE PAPER KIND) OR SPAM?

Every time I do an "informal survey" of what shows up in my mail box (the one at the end of the driveway), which occurs daily, by count and by weight more than 70% is "junk". I don't open it. It gets tossed.

Am I offended? Sure. Am I pissed off? You bet. But I recognize that if all "junk mail" was banned, it would probably cost about a dollar to mail a letter first class. Maybe more. So I accept it as I reluctantly accept pop-ups whenever I visit a favorite website.

So, with snail mail, we've figured out how to "regulate" speech -- everyone has to pay -- whether it's political, commercial or personal.

The problem with spam (compared to junk mail) is the marginal cost to the sender is something close to zero. While it costs Capital One a fixed cost per letter to send the hundreds of pre-approved credit card offers I get each year, it costs a spammer nothing to send me an e-mail.

Figure out a way to charge a "user fee" for e-mail and you'll solve the problem. The way I figure it, if the spammers have to pay a fare share of the bandwidth they consume, my monthly high-bandwidth Internet access cost should be about $9.95, rather than $49.95. I'm all for it.

So here's the challenge to all my "geek" friends: Can a foolproof "electronic stamp" be created so that no "unstamped" e-mail gets through to the designated receiver?


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