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The Internet Communications The Almighty Buck

ISPs Starting To Charge for 'Guaranteed' Email Delivery 288

Posted by Zonk
from the i-gare-on-tee dept.
Presto Vivace writes "Under the guise of fighting spam, five of the largest Internet service providers in the U.S. plan to start charging businesses for guaranteed delivery of their e-mails. In other words, with regular service we may or may not deliver your email. If you want it delivered, you will have to pay deluxe. 'According to Goodmail, seven U.S. ISPs now use CertifedEmail, accounting for 60 percent of the U.S. population. Goodmail--which takes up to 50 percent of the revenue generated by the plan--will for now approve only mail sent by companies and organizations that have been operational for a year or more. Ordinary users can still apply to be white-listed by individual ISPs, which effectively provides the same trusted status.'"
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ISPs Starting To Charge for 'Guaranteed' Email Delivery

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  • Fighting spam? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LordHatrus (763508) <slashdotNO@SPAMclockfort.com> on Saturday June 09, 2007 @04:30PM (#19452671) Homepage
    How does it fight spam if the spammer can ask to be whitelisted, or if the spammer can pose as or actually be a business operating for more than a year? Lame.
    • Re:Fighting spam? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by nacturation (646836) <nacturation@@@gmail...com> on Saturday June 09, 2007 @04:41PM (#19452757) Journal

      How does it fight spam if the spammer can ask to be whitelisted, or if the spammer can pose as or actually be a business operating for more than a year? Lame.
      You combine it with other techniques, such as whitelisting only specific IP addresses and rejecting mail from those IPs if spam reports get too high. A business approaching Goodmail and saying "please whitelist these 500,000 zombie IP addresses" would be just a tad suspicious.
       
      • Re:Fighting spam? (Score:5, Informative)

        by tacocat (527354) <tallison1@twmi.C ... m minus caffeine> on Saturday June 09, 2007 @04:57PM (#19452867)

        No, you are really wrong.

        The point behind guaranteed delivery is that the ISP will not blacklist your domain/ip address regardless of how many spam reports they receive. This is the whole point behind goodmail.

        I just spend hours in a meeting discussing this very topic. Our company was blacklisted by AOL because too many people reported our email as spam (it's all mail that they opted in for -- default is out). The result was all of AOL delivery was blacklisted. Eventually we got it fixed, but the next tier to the solution is to pay GoodMail $$ to effectively certify our domains as legitimate senders and they pay AOL a portion of their proceeds to guarantee permanent whitelist status no matter what the users do.

        The only criteria that AOL has leveled against us is if someone tags our email as spam, we have to remove them from the mailing list. But I don't know if this will change or not with the introduction of GoodMail into our mail delivery system.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Ucklak (755284)
          Same boat as you my friend. We decided that AOL email addresses aren't allowed to be used in our monthly drawing for a free product(meal) so we don't accept AOL addresses on our web form.

          The problem is that part of the registration sends a message to the recipient that the user has to acknowledge. That message sent to AOL addresses gets tagged as SPAM. Secondly, the newsletter we send out also gets tagged as SPAM by a good percentage of AOL users. So my opinion of this crap is to discriminate against pe
          • Re:Fighting spam? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by tacocat (527354) <tallison1@twmi.C ... m minus caffeine> on Saturday June 09, 2007 @05:16PM (#19453025)

            If he tags what you sent as confirmation to his request, what do you think the chances are that they will also tag your newsletter?

            A lot of AOL users tag messages as SPAM when they don't want to see them anymore. It's easier than opting-out and so they abuse the process. They have no repercussions to their actions.

            But a lot of users do this. I see it in my house where I run my own mail server and my own spam filter. It's a bayesian filter so you have to tell it when it was wrong. Wife won't tell it anything but she complains about the spam she's getting. Can't help her. She's being obstinant and dumb.

            • by Kjella (173770)
              A lot of AOL users tag messages as SPAM when they don't want to see them anymore. It's easier than opting-out and so they abuse the process. They have no repercussions to their actions.

              Hey, I do this too with newsletters that suddenly start showing up in my mailbox, probably hidden away deep in some terms of some signup or the other. A just punishment for anything deceptive, even though I'm sure it's technically legit.
              • by gbjbaanb (229885)
                I do that too - only I try the opt-opt website/email first, give them a week to get me off the list and then blacklist them if I receive further emails. Strangely, I've only had 1 instance of the website opt-out form work.

                * for purposes of this discussion I do not include real, obvious spam in the opt-out - only 'legitimate' companies that I have had some sort of email relationship with.
            • by Ucklak (755284)
              The problem with AOL is that once one person tags a domain as SPAM, the domain is flagged as SPAM for automatic settings. People who have AOL addresses that "want" the newsletter aren't able to get it if they have their spam setting to automatic.

              The repurcussions of their actions is that they are ineligible for a free dinner with a value of $100 - and yes, this is an upscale restaurant.
            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by PopeRatzo (965947) *

              A lot of AOL users tag messages as SPAM when they don't want to see them anymore. It's easier than opting-out and so they abuse the process. They have no repercussions to their actions.

              "No repercussions"?? What kind of "repercussions" should we get for calling junk mail "spam"? Maybe have to pay a penalty? Should we lose our internet access for a few days? Why not jailtime?

              I'm not an AOL user, but I only give "spamcatcher" addresses to any company I think is going to send me junk. I commonly will tag t

              • Re:Fighting spam? (Score:4, Insightful)

                by tacocat (527354) <tallison1@twmi.C ... m minus caffeine> on Saturday June 09, 2007 @07:17PM (#19453809)

                I was thinking of the repercussion as something you would experience if you were using a bayesian filter.

                If you tag indiscriminantly everything that you don't want delivered for any reason, they you will start getting more false positives because it's an adaptive AI process. There is a little care and feeding of the whole filtering process you have to pay attention to.

                I don't believe that AOL is going to use something like this. If you tag email as spam, AOL takes it upon themselves to send you a warning email and if you don't opt them out they black list you (eventually). What would be a repercussion to the consumer is the eventual increase in false positives -- giving the consumer a repercussion to their indiscriminant feedbacks. No one is made aware that there is an effect.

                And just to clarify -- I'm not talking here about the obviously unsolicited email, but the email that is solicited but no longer wanted. The consumer took a positive action to get the email and now no longer wants it. What I am definitely not talking about here is the email that you never asked for, or where opted-in by means of fine print that few can even read at light grey and 6pt font.

              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by Jasin Natael (14968)

                I don't trust the parent and grandparents who are so righteously complaining about how customers have all "opted in" for their junk mail.

                Your personal incredulity is not a rebuttal. I actually developed and run a site where each user pays us close to two thousand US dollars per year to receive our email updates, and some users on AOL still mark our messages as SPAM. About every six months or so, delivery to AOL email just gets blocked wholesale, and they aren't the friendliest people to deal with.

                And we

              • Re:Fighting spam? (Score:4, Insightful)

                by MightyYar (622222) on Saturday June 09, 2007 @09:14PM (#19454519)
                You aren't the typical AOL user... Put up a real estate related site with a sign-up form... watch the contact info fly in. I don't know what it is about that demographic, but they sign up for EVERYTHING. Of course, that doesn't stop them from using the SPAM button as "unsubscribe". I'm not going to complain, though, because you'd be nuts to click on an "unsubscribe" link for something that you don't remember signing up for.
                • Re:Fighting spam? (Score:4, Insightful)

                  by tacocat (527354) <tallison1@twmi.C ... m minus caffeine> on Sunday June 10, 2007 @11:25AM (#19458163)

                  Ten years ago I would agree. But now I don't.

                  The confirmation of an email address isn't valuable anymore. It's too easy to get real addresses en masse without anyone confirming the address. There once was a time when people would pay big money for lists of confirmed email addresses as a list for spamming. I don't know that there is much value in this anymore.

                  The process of sending spam is basically Fire and Forget so there's no added value to having a confirmation to the address. I have many records where people try to send email to random names or even characters on my domain and none of them could have ever been confirmed. And they keep coming. Add to that the back-scatter spam and you've no need for addresses being confirmed.

                  Go ahead, confirm your address. The spammers already have it and they don't really care if it's confirmed or not. They'll keep using it for months to come. And at least it gives the legitimate mailings a chance to play honest and opt you out without getting punched in the nose.

                  For legitimate purposes, if the sender provides and opt-out mechanism then it's the consumers responsiblity to use it and the marketers responsibility to honor it without qualification. But if you don't provide this mechanism then you should be labelled spam and prosecuted.

            • Re:Fighting spam? (Score:4, Interesting)

              by caffeine_high (974351) on Saturday June 09, 2007 @09:08PM (#19454495)
              We get this a lot, people just mark a legitimate message as spam because it is easier. This is particularly common with with aol users.

              The best option I have found is to include a unique identifier in the message and setup a 'feed back loop' with aol. They send you a notification when someone marks a message from your domain as spam. We remove them from our system and then contact them to explain why their lazy actions effect other aol users. Usually they are shocked that they have been caught and vow never to do it again. They often also ask to get included in the system again.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Sparr0 (451780)

            AOL email addresses aren't allowed to be used in our monthly drawing for a free product(meal) ... the newsletter we send out also gets tagged as SPAM
            So you get people to sign up for a drawing, and start sending them a newsletter? Hello spam.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Not_Wiggins (686627)
          I work for a major corporation and assist with the email policy.

          For AOL, they required only two things from us, and we haven't run into problems:

          1) Publish an SPF record (they were pushing it big-time). I'd recommend a loose policy that states "if it doesn't pass the SPF check, make your own decision" (which is the ?all option).

          2) Establish a complaint/opt-out email box and process the messages that come from AOL.

          Of course, there are vultures out there looking to make a buck by selling everyone a solution t
        • Yeah right, more likely your company defaulted everyone in instead of out for all the junk mail. In my book that is called spam, and they were correct to label you as such.
          • by tacocat (527354)

            They didn't. They can't. They have to verbally get the email address from the consumer as part of the verbal conversation of "Would you like our monthly newsletter?" Kind of difficult to hide something like that in a fine print. I suppose they could whisper...

            More likely they don't default everyone in and more likely that they did exactly what they described because that is exactly what we saw happening.

            More likely you aren't thinking of how users might behave.

            • Most business these days want an email address to send an invoice to, whether they be virtual, mail-order, or brick and morter, and it amazes me how often I end up getting junk mail from them anyway, even after I specifically request not to. This is why I have my personal email address and a secondary one. That way my main address stays nearly 100% junk mail free and the other well let's just say I get lot's of monthly specials from all those companies I've opted out from.

              I say instead of the ISP auto-c

        • Re:Fighting spam? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Jay L (74152) <{mf.yaj} {ta} {hsals+yaj}> on Saturday June 09, 2007 @06:07PM (#19453371) Homepage
          Of course, Goodmail can't guarantee that the *recipient* isn't filtering. And it doesn't blacklist anyone. It's just an accreditation scheme like DKIM, but at the per-message level instead of the per-domain level. It does three things, from what I can tell:

          1. At the sender side, for those senders who are paying Goodmail, it adds a token to the e-mail that recipients can verify. This part could be great, if they open up a public way to validate that token (and it's in their interest to, I think). Spam filters like SpamAssassin could then score the e-mail differently. Either Goodmail is useless, or it's useful. If it's useless, recipients can ignore the token. If it's useful, recipients can decide to apply less filtering - or they can apply all the usual filters, and just (using SpamAssassin as an example) apply a negative point or two to Goodmail so it's less likely to get filtered.

          2. At the recipient side for those recipients who are Goodmail "partners", it guarantees that your mail will bypass all other filters. This part is dubious. Will they regret becoming partners? Maybe, if people start sending spam that's signed by Goodmail. Can they get out of their partnership or change the terms? Dunno. Will the market sort this out? You bet. If Goodmail partners start delivering more spam than non-partners, people will switch to the non-partners.

          2. Also at the recipient side for those recipients who are Goodmail "partners", it adds a pretty blue ribbon, etc. to the "chrome" of the e-mail. Yes, the chrome is unforgeable. No, users can't tell the difference between a blue ribbon in the chrome and a blue ribbon in the body. AOL tried this years ago with "Certified E-Mail", so you could tell when a message was REALLY from AOL. Did it stop phishing? No. This part is security theater.

          Nobody gets blacklisted. Right now, ALL our mail is essentially second-class mail, subject to all sorts of filters. GoodMail creates a first-class tier that potentially bypasses all that if you pay for the "postage" (which is only 1/20th of a cent for non-profits). Again, the market will sort out whether or not that postage is useful. In fact, "postage" is probably the wrong word - it's more like "notarized" e-mail.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by datlas (1113523)
          Actually being Goodmail requires *fewer* complaints than even regular white listing. The point of Goodmail is NOT that the ISP will not blacklist you regardless of how many complaints you get -- exactly the opposite. If you get a lot of complaints you won't even qualify for CertifiedEmail: http://www.postmaster.aol.com/whitelist/certifiede mail.html [aol.com] : How is eligibility determined for participation in the CertifiedEmail Program? The CertifiedEmail program is open to qualified, accredited senders with
    • by rolfwind (528248)
      It doesn't. From my personal reading of the situation, this will only encourage "official" spam that is whitelisted by companies that can afford to pay it. An oldie but a goodie:

      Your activities advocates a

      ( ) technical ( ) legislative (X) market-based ( ) vigilante

      approach to fighting spam. Your idea will not work. Here is why it won't work. (One or more of the following may apply to your particular idea, and it may have other flaws which used to vary from state to state before a bad federal law was passe
      • Yes, it's market-based. That does mean that most spammers won't be willing to pay for it. But some legitimate email senders (and a smaller number of well-targeted spammers) will find it worthwhile to pay to get mail through big ISP blacklists - anybody who's running a legitimate mailing-list service or doing things like product registration spends a lot of time bitching about AOL.

        There isn't a central authority controlling email - but they've got the ISPs that are over 50% of the US mailbox market. (Mi

    • How does it fight spam if the spammer can ask to be whitelisted, or if the spammer can pose as or actually be a business operating for more than a year? Lame.

      And why should I have to pay or apply to be whitelisted? As far I can think of this is just another money grab.

      Falcon
  • Breach of contract (Score:4, Insightful)

    by KiloByte (825081) on Saturday June 09, 2007 @04:33PM (#19452697)
    Well, assuming an user pays for the e-mail account, isn't this a breach of contract and false advertising? By "providing an e-mail account", it can be assumed no real mail is ever meant to be knowingly dropped.

    Declaring those who haven't paid the protection racket as not "real mail" is not really something that I would envision as something which would pass a non-bribed judge.
    • by bwd234 (806660) on Saturday June 09, 2007 @04:58PM (#19452871)
      "Well, assuming an user pays for the e-mail account, isn't this a breach of contract and false advertising? By "providing an e-mail account", it can be assumed no real mail is ever meant to be knowingly dropped.

      Declaring those who haven't paid the protection racket as not "real mail" is not really something that I would envision as something which would pass a non-bribed judge."

      Guess what, this is exactly how the USPS works. They are not responsible for making sure the mail is delivered unless you pay more for it, like certified mail, etc.
      How do I know? I was told this in so many words when I had mail lost and complained to the Post Office about it.
      It was basically, "if you want to make sure it gets there, have it insured, otherwise..."

      Yeah, nice little racket the USPS has too!
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by asamad (658115)
        Slightly different analogy, you are already paying for you packets to make it to the internet, why should you have to pay again ?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by codegen (103601)
      I have not read your terms of service, but I can *almost* guarantee there
      is a clause that specifies that the ISP can modify the terms at any time
      by posting them on the website and that you agreed to it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 09, 2007 @04:35PM (#19452703)
    Comcast - EVIL
    Cox - not very evil yet
    Time Warner - The incarnation of Evil
    Verizon - Pure evil

    They didn't say who the other three are, but I'll guess here
    AOL - Strange evil
    BellSouth - Pure Evil
    Mediacom - Incompetent Evil
    • Wait a second, but didn't Microsoft buy evil from the devil [bbspot.com]? So wouldn't being evil be a civil offense or something like that?
    • by jpetts (208163)

      Cox - not very evil yet
      You can be "not very evil": the bit is either set or clear...
      • Its more of an analogue analogy - its not so much black and white/digital, but because pretty much everything can be seen as evil (cute little bunny rabbits that hand out millions of $$$ for no reason? Theres something evil about that rabbit, just not as much as Nazi persecution of Jews). So since everything is evil, its really a choice of which is the lesser evil...
  • by ralphart (70342) on Saturday June 09, 2007 @04:35PM (#19452707)
    This is pretty freaking outrageous.

    If there's any way to organize and refuse to relay mail from any of these greedy self-appointed guardians, I'd certainly be interested. Blacklisting all mail out of their domains would probably be extremely educational for them.

    Good for the goose...good for the gander.
    • If there's any way to organize and refuse to relay mail from any of these greedy self-appointed guardians, I'd certainly be interested.

      This is easy to do. Most mail server software lets you block by domain name of the SMTP client host and/or the host part of the sender email address. If you don't have this option, but can refuse email from SMTP client hosts without valid reverse DNS, you can force the reverse DNS to be bad by adding empty zones for their domain to your DNS server that your mail server

      • by Dogtanian (588974)

        Oh wait, there already is an alternate internet. Sorry, I cannot disclose the location.
        Wait, wait.... awww, I know this one, it's..... a DNS server running on an old Pentium II at your school's computer club, and seven or eight nerds pointing their computers at it?
    • by tacocat (527354)

      So you're proposing we blacklist AOL, TimeWarner, ComCast...

      I'm all for it. But if they don't blacklist each other there's not much affect this is going to have.

      Read up on the early history of Radio. It used to be free to broadcast. Now it's really expensive. Soon the only web pages and mailing activities will be those that are sanctioned by the key masters.

      Pure Capitalism is self destructive. Moral Capitalism is not.

      • by BeerCat (685972)

        So you're proposing we blacklist AOL, TimeWarner, ComCast...

        I'm all for it. But if they don't blacklist each other there's not much affect this is going to have.

        It will create a "them" and "us" style internet. Except that AOL, Time Warner and so on have loads of cash, so will whitelist each other and become the self styled "fair and balanced" ISPs, while everyone else will be part of the "if you're not with us, you're against us", and hence AOL et al will blacklist those not in their circle of friends.

        I think this would be an unintended consequence.

      • radio (Score:3, Interesting)

        by falconwolf (725481)

        Read up on the early history of Radio. It used to be free to broadcast. Now it's really expensive. Soon the only web pages and mailing activities will be those that are sanctioned by the key masters.

        No, it's cheap to radio broadcast, Pirate radio [blackcatsystems.com] stations do it all the tyme. There's even pirate radio on the internet [pirateradio.com]. What's espensive is getting a license to broadcast. And that's just how the mass media wants it. Clear Channel doesn't want more competition, it wants less.

  • by jb.cancer (905806)
    apart from the initial shock (face it, evryone wants to plug the tube that is the internet), won't this generate more unwanted e-mail traffic? think of all the people who would now send >1 copies of each of their mails just to increase the chances of delivery.

    of course it's all assuming that the real intention is not 'end-of-free-emails'(which cud be quite naive)
  • It really was guaranteed delivery using a transactional scheme with software that supported it. This could be something actually worthwhile.

  • Well (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ShooterNeo (555040) on Saturday June 09, 2007 @04:40PM (#19452749)
    Honestly, I don't see what the problem is. Charging some sort of cost - whether it be responding to a whitelist request, paying in CPU cycles to complete a hash, or just flat out paying a quarter of a cent - is the only practical way to fight spam. Spamfilters always have a small false postive and false negative error rate, while charging money or a cost does not. A quarter of a cent is many times the expected monetary return on a pure spam.

    Since it costs money to set up an infrastructure to accept a cost of any type (reliable servers, an organization, ect) charging actual money rather than hash cycles or CAPTCHAs makes the most sense, and is also the only practical way for a big organization to send emails to a bunch of users.
    • I agree. Unless they're deliberately dropping other folk's emails, I don't see the problem here.

      Slashdot geeks are too obsessed with everyone having utterly identical outcomes. "You can't guarantee their email for a fee!", they sputter, "unless you guarantee mine will get through as well, for free!"
      • And presumably, this company offers an alternate "payment" scheme if you just want to send an email to an individual user. By registering for the whitelist, you fill out some sort of captcha, and it must cap you to sending emails to just a few people in that ISP.

        Spam is so horribly inefficient a form of advertising that even a tiny cost in time or money per email sent is enough to completely wipe it out.

        Heck, ISPs could go back to accepting email from places where the incoming email is almost all spam, lik
    • by shmlco (594907) on Saturday June 09, 2007 @05:02PM (#19452909) Homepage
      The "problem" is that there are a ton of non-profits, news sites, news groups, blogs, lists, whatever-of-the-day sites, schools, churches, and other organizations that send out a lot of requested put-me-on-the-list email to their members.

      Have a decent-sized list on which you're doing a daily run, and even at a quarter of a cent you're suddenly looking at thousands of dollars a month out of pocket.

      So now all of those sites and services and lists either: A) Stop sending email and/or go out of business, or B) Start charging for the stuff you used to get for free.

      Is it so hard for people to figure this stuff out? Apply a cost somewhere and--one way or another--you're going to pay it.
      • Don't see the problem.

        (a) if the organization is truly, REALLY important then you would pay or manually add the sender to the whitelist yourself.

        (b) A lot of these organizations are jerks about these things, and demand your email. Even "good" organizations like churches can abuse the priviledge.
      • by Jay L (74152)
        So now all of those sites and services and lists either: A) Stop sending email and/or go out of business, or B) Start charging for the stuff you used to get for free.

        Or C) keep doing what they're doing and keep being delivered like they're being delivered now, mostly OK, occasionally trapped by errant spam filters.
    • by scribblej (195445) on Saturday June 09, 2007 @05:03PM (#19452913)
      I mean, my postal mailbox is totally free of spam-like mail, because companies have to /pay/ for postal mail.

    • Re:Well (Score:4, Insightful)

      by tacocat (527354) <tallison1@twmi.C ... m minus caffeine> on Saturday June 09, 2007 @05:11PM (#19452979)

      But who do you think it going to pay that cost?

      I'm on a lot of mailing lists. So 300 emails a day works out to 75 cents US. Which adds up to $273 a year that I have to pay. If you look at it from the point of view of the mailing lists, they might have 10,000 users which means every email costs them $25US. For someone like Debian this is death. For someone like Microsoft -- They'll just add $25 to their product prices.

      When the F... are you going to realize that pay per use is not a means to being effective for anything. It's a means of generating money. It doesn't save you money and it doesn't get you any more freedom, happiness, or flexability

    • by hxnwix (652290)
      So, because Verizon et all are too incompetent to set up filtering ala gmail, I should pay them?

      WTF?
  • I want my share too. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Saturday June 09, 2007 @04:53PM (#19452835) Journal
    For every mail delivered to me with a blue ribbon I will charge 0.125 cents. If the ISPs dont pay me I will not read the mails. Howz that!
    • How many people setting up their spam filters to drop anything with a blue ribbon would it take before this scheme is junked?
    • A lot of the discussion about market-economics solutions to spam proposed models like that. [insert standard checklist here :-)] Some of them get it wrong and have arbitrary prices for delivery that get paid to the wrong people, so they're not likely to work economically, while others of them realize that the real cost of spam isn't the bandwidth, CPU, or storage costs, it's the recipient's attention wasted reading the junk, so they propose ways to let the sender pay the recipient for reading the mail. S
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 09, 2007 @04:54PM (#19452853)
    So the spammers who use botnets will just cause the hijacked computer's owners to pay thousands in email fees?
    I can imagine the new "training" course at the grade schools:
    Don't download music because you'll get sued for thousands of dollars by the RIAA and then have to pay thousands of dollars because a "virus" sent out emails from your computer!
  • What say we band together and start a new Internet? This one is quickly becoming useless.
  • by Loconut1389 (455297) on Saturday June 09, 2007 @05:08PM (#19452949)
    OK- so you've got the infrastructure to do pay-by-email set up. Now the end user has something like an iTunes account backed by paypal and it just sort of automagically charges your account every time you send an email, what happens when your machine is compromised by a bot-net and you're sending millions of emails for a quarter?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by guruevi (827432)
      That's a good thing, then the TCO of Windows would be even higher! Also, all dumb users on the Internet would be bankrupted and not able to afford a fast internet line, more bandwidth for us, less crap on the web.
  • Scam (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    This is like privatized jail system in the USA. The moment it was set up, the number of people sent into jail has started to grow steadily, since there is direct financial interest to "maximize" profit on investment.

    If you need to pay fee to get your email for sure, the same companies can make sure that the emails of non paying people will get lost.
  • by loqi (754476) on Saturday June 09, 2007 @05:16PM (#19453027)
    One word: Hashcash [hashcash.org]. Basically you prove that you wasted a couple seconds worth of CPU to send your message. I believe SpamAssassin already recognizes Hashcash headers, not sure about other filters. But if you're really ready to start dropping email en masse in favor of a whitelist-style approach, this is the simple and elegant solution.
    • by jrumney (197329)
      Hashcash is a fine solution to spammers circa 2003, sending out all their mail from a single server on a cheap hosting service. But how does it help against botnets?
  • ...how about asking for receipts of emails? That's what I do for important documents that I email out any way, just so that I know that the recipient doesn't accidentally delete it and then blame me for not sending it. It also helps confirm that I don't email something out to the wrong person without knowing about it.

    Another solution would be to extensions with Thunderbird or whichever email client you use that provides a certificate and requests a confirmation upon receipt automatically. This could be p
  • Dubious statistic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by asuffield (111848) <asuffield@suffields.me.uk> on Saturday June 09, 2007 @05:24PM (#19453089)

    According to Goodmail, seven U.S. ISPs now use CertifedEmail, accounting for 60 percent of the U.S. population.


    This is probably true as stated, but almost meaningless. Each of those ISPs will be counting the number of users that have email accounts with them, and then they just added up those numbers. The problem with this is that many users have more than one email account and don't use the one provided by their ISP - a large chunk of that 60% probably uses yahoo, hotmail, or gmail. Many people will also have another account provided by their employer.

    It is not particularly useful to count email accounts as a fraction of the US population.
  • by tacocat (527354) <tallison1@twmi.C ... m minus caffeine> on Saturday June 09, 2007 @05:42PM (#19453195)

    I think part of the problem is that spam filters are generally broken and don't work that well. Part of the problem is that no one has seriously thought about how crappy the approach is. The other part of the problem is that their is little or no personal ownership of the filtering of spam.

    When the ISP/customer have no relationship on identification of what is spam the ISP has to aim really high and take the approach that anything that is obviously spam is not delivered and everything else is. The net effect is the ISP might not deliver porn spam, but they'll deliver many other things with impunity. If there was a more aggressive involvement of the customer/consumer of the email then you could better tune the filters to match each user better.

    SpamAssassin is the worse offender. It's origination was to do static regex checks and add points for each hit. And when you were done, the points put you either IN or OUT. But in order for SA to work you have to tune the number of points added for each regex test. And this is constantly changing. But for it to work, you have to be constantly monitoring the results. No one does this on a consistent basis.

    A critical drawback with their approach is the constant game of catch-up they have to play in order to get the filtering to work correctly and then someone has to run some update script to hopefully get everything working correctly. Again, this has to be done continually like the tuning or it will start to fail.

    Bayesian filters offered a great alternative but they quickly turned into their own problems. SA uses Bayes, but it's not effective because of the lack of feedback from the consumer (in most cases). It's also prone to over-rides by their own auto-whitelisting. Convenient, but deadly. Where Bayes lacks goes back to the original problems of non-customized feedback and involvement. It's very inconvenient to try and set up something like bogofilter to run for every individual in a group of 1000's so the mail admin makes one file for everyone thereby generalizing the statistics and making them less effective because they have to be good enough for everyone but not so good they remove any of the really serious spam.

    And yes, SA does user specific Bayes filtering. I used it for three months and it sucked. It was not a very effective spam filtering system even with user specific bayesian filtering included. It's also getting pretty darn slow. Slow enough to become a consideration.

    DSpam is effective, customized, and slower than molasses in january. It will also lose email. But YMMV and I don't really care to hear about how great it is. I lost a lot of email and a lot of money as the result of it. Perhaps some day they can get their act together, but there will always be a severe performance penalty for CRM114. But Bayesian filtering can still compete with CRM statistical success with 100X performance increase.

    So what do you do about spam filtering?

    The technology exists to effectively and efficiently filter spam. But that's not the problem. The technology that is used today is relatively lame because there are shortcomings abound that prevent a good solution for someone really large (like an ISP).

    The problem is to redefine how the consumer is going to own their own spam filtering effectiveness. No more auto-whitelist. No more auto-blacklist, No more auto-update of Bayesian tokens. All of these can be carefully manipulated to taint the statistics and allow delivery in droves. The consumer must take ownership of their mailbox in the same manner that they are expected to take ownership of their credit card information on the internet.

  • Pity the fool (Score:2, Insightful)

    by stabiesoft (733417)
    who is paying for this service and gets infected. Ouch, what a bill that will be, and
    all guaranteed to be delivered. New bot target:Certified senders!
  • by briancnorton (586947) on Saturday June 09, 2007 @06:07PM (#19453365) Homepage
    accounting for 60 percent of the U.S. population

    This is making a REALLY bad assumption that an ISP generated email address is used by the account holder. Problem is, once there became multiple ways to get online about 10 years ago, LOTS of people switched to web-mail for the permanence and convenience. (Hotmail, Gmail, yahoo, etc) I would guess that any major ISP has less than half of their accounts use their provided email services.

    • Bingo!

      I got tired of losing track of friends every time I or they changed ISP's. Gmail is my poison of choice, since they keep the unsolicited "Penis Enlargement" spam to a minimum, but man is my secondary email account choked with newsletters and special offers from companies I've done business with. Gmail does make that fairly easy to deal with since their search function works well enough to find the important stuff.

  • by nurb432 (527695) on Saturday June 09, 2007 @06:07PM (#19453369) Homepage Journal
    Then what value is the ISP?

    This cant be legal. "here is your service. Oh, you want it to actually work, well pay up"
  • Net Neutrality (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Saturday June 09, 2007 @06:12PM (#19453405) Journal
    I'm thinking I should bookmark this and use it as an example to anyone who claims ISPs won't attempt to charge websites for "prioritized" delivery, and degrade people who don't pay up.

    In short: They already have.

    Of course, I don't think net neutrality legislation will cover email -- not that I care much, I really don't send mail to many people at AOL -- but it's just a perfect example to all the Libertarian idiots out there of why we do need government intervention sometimes.

    The free market will sort it out? Sure...

  • I think if I had an email that was so important I felt I needed to pay for guaranteed delivery of it, I would just pick up the phone.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Gmail started rejecting mail from my home system back in April. At the time the rejection was "Our system has detected an unusual amount of unsolicited mail originating from your IP address."

    This turned out to be a lie, but I wasted time making very sure it wasn't true. Nor was it an inherited IP problem from DHCP because I'd had the same for months.

    To make it more fun, much confusion was caused because some of my 'rejected mail' had actually gone through.

    Eventually I got a response from complaining to Gmai
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      Our machines are supposed to be able to connect to one another.

      An unfortunate side effect of zombies is that mail obviously sent using dynamic addresses is rejected. It's wrong to blame receivers for their policies, the blame lies with botnet operators and users who fail to take adequate security precautions. Neither can you expect receivers to whitelist dynamic addresses, the solutions are:

      1. Relay through your providers smarthost
      2. Get a static IP
      3. Get a VPS and relay through that

      It sucks much less tha

  • You can forget about using email for commercial purposes - a good size fraction of the anti-spam community considers any use of email for commercial purposes to be SPAM. So commercial email gets blocked. If you send an email to someone using Outlook with the word "sale" in the email address, it gets trashed. Examples like this go on and on.

    If you are using email to communicate with customers, a large number of your customers aren't getting their receipts, confirmations or even their purchases. And of co
  • Competing Vendors. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by OgGreeb (35588) <og@digimark.net> on Saturday June 09, 2007 @06:35PM (#19453599) Homepage
    I have yet to see an adequate defense proposed against the problem of multiple "certified email" vendors in the same mail stream, where one vendor has been paid and the others haven't. How does one vendor ensure that validated mail gets delivered?

    This is exactly the same problem with backbone pipe vendors wanting to get paid for "premium" bit transfer.
  • by twitter (104583) on Saturday June 09, 2007 @06:46PM (#19453649) Homepage Journal

    Nice plan.

    1. Keep users helpless.
    2. Provide "service" for helpless user
    3. Profit.

    Give me back my ports and I won't have to worry about spam or your fees.

  • Spam Filter (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Joebert (946227) on Saturday June 09, 2007 @06:46PM (#19453657) Homepage
    Where can I get an up-to-date list of theese companies, so I can add their addresses to my spam filter ?
  • by SeaFox (739806) on Saturday June 09, 2007 @07:55PM (#19454003)
    Your post advocates a

    (X) technical ( ) legislative (X) market-based ( ) vigilante

    approach to fighting spam. Your idea will not work. Here is why it won't work. (One or more of the following may apply to your particular idea, and it may have other flaws which used to vary from state to state before a bad federal law was passed.)

    ( ) Spammers can easily use it to harvest email addresses
    ( ) Mailing lists and other legitimate email uses would be affected
    ( ) No one will be able to find the guy or collect the money
    ( ) It is defenseless against brute force attacks
    ( ) It will stop spam for two weeks and then we'll be stuck with it
    (X) Users of email will not put up with it
    ( ) Microsoft will not put up with it
    ( ) The police will not put up with it
    ( ) Requires too much cooperation from spammers
    (X) Requires immediate total cooperation from everybody at once
    ( ) Many email users cannot afford to lose business or alienate potential employers
    ( ) Spammers don't care about invalid addresses in their lists
    ( ) Anyone could anonymously destroy anyone else's career or business

    Specifically, your plan fails to account for

    ( ) Laws expressly prohibiting it
    ( ) Lack of centrally controlling authority for email
    (X) Open relays in foreign countries
    ( ) Ease of searching tiny alphanumeric address space of all email addresses
    ( ) Asshats
    ( ) Jurisdictional problems
    (X) Unpopularity of weird new taxes
    ( ) Public reluctance to accept weird new forms of money
    ( ) Huge existing software investment in SMTP
    ( ) Susceptibility of protocols other than SMTP to attack
    ( ) Willingness of users to install OS patches received by email
    (X) Armies of worm riddled broadband-connected Windows boxes
    ( ) Eternal arms race involved in all filtering approaches
    ( ) Extreme profitability of spam
    ( ) Joe jobs and/or identity theft
    ( ) Technically illiterate politicians
    ( ) Extreme stupidity on the part of people who do business with spammers
    (X) Dishonesty on the part of spammers themselves
    ( ) Bandwidth costs that are unaffected by client filtering
    ( ) Outlook

    and the following philosophical objections may also apply:

    (X) Ideas similar to yours are easy to come up with, yet none have ever been shown practical
    ( ) Any scheme based on opt-out is unacceptable
    ( ) SMTP headers should not be the subject of legislation
    ( ) Blacklists suck
    ( ) Whitelists suck
    ( ) We should be able to talk about Viagra without being censored
    ( ) Countermeasures should not involve wire fraud or credit card fraud
    ( ) Countermeasures should not involve sabotage of public networks
    ( ) Countermeasures must work if phased in gradually
    (X) Sending email should be free
    (X) Why should we have to trust you and your servers?
    ( ) Incompatiblity with open source or open source licenses
    ( ) Feel-good measures do nothing to solve the problem
    ( ) Temporary/one-time email addresses are cumbersome
    ( ) I don't want the government reading my email
    ( ) Killing them that way is not slow and painful enough

    Furthermore, this is what I think about you:

    ( ) Sorry dude, but I don't think it would work.
    ( ) This is a stupid idea, and you're a stupid person for suggesting it.
    (X) Nice try, assh0le! I'm going to find out where you live and burn your house down!
  • by c6gunner (950153) on Saturday June 09, 2007 @09:33PM (#19454631)
    "Nice e-mail account you've got here. Be a shame if something were to happen to it...."
  • Thats a nice email (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mantrid42 (972953) on Saturday June 09, 2007 @10:57PM (#19455031)
    That sure is a nice email you've got there. It'd be a shame if anything happened to it, eh?

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