In economic terms, let's consider why there's profit in spamming
(sending large numbers of unsolicited emails). This is due to the
"cost-shifting" nature of the spam process. It takes very little
effort to send a large number of e-mails. But e-mail is not free (as
in beer). In effect, the spammer shifts the expense of the advertising
campaign, from the seller, onto ISPs and users:
This space intentionally left blank
...because it's waiting for your ad. So why are you still reading this? Come on, get going. Read the story, and then get an ad. Alright stop it. I'm not going to say anything else. Now you're just being silly. STOP LOOKING AT ME! I'm done!
active | buy ad
So this is, literally, the price of free (as in speech) speech - the
ISP and the user must bear the costs of the spammer's ads. Now,
a frequent "technological solution" is that, once the ISP has paid to
handle the spammer's mail, the user can avoid the further payment of time,
by paying cash to another organization, which will perform the task of
sorting out the spam. This approach is exemplified by services offered
by, for example,
or SpamCop Email System.
- The ISP must pay (in resources) to distribute the spammer's ads
- The user must pay (in time) to delete the spammer's ads
But what does this sorting organization do? Its only task
is to try to identify spam from real mail. That is, it is paid to try
sent from spammers. However, since it is in an
adversary relationship to the spammers, the
spam-gangs have every
reason to try to avoid such identification.
There have been some
to facilitate identification of spam by legally requiring labels.
But that involves government and law.
In fact, it's compelled speech! Instead, since the
is the solution to all problems,
the only proper course of action is to
provide spammers with an economic incentive to identify themselves.
After all, spam identification is the exact product being sold by
third parties, so why pay a middle-man? If one is going to pay, for
maximum market efficiency, why not pay the source?
In this scheme, the user pays a mailbox "protection fee" to an
umbrella group, let's call it the "Spamafia". In return for this
"protection", the "Spamafia" provides the user with a simple mailbox
checking system which can be run over mail messages. Because this
system works in a manner akin to passing items over a net barrier, it
might be termed a "racket". So, the "racket" tests each piece of
mail. Those mail messages which originate from members of the Spamafia
each contain a certification token. In the process of testing the
mail, this token is sent back to the Spamafia, and so redeemed to the
individual spammer for a small fee, say a penny or so. In
return, the user is given assurance that this message is certified as
spam, and so can be automatically deleted without fear of losing
legitimate mail. In essence, the spammer is given an incentive to
also obtain a small amount of money from each smart user by being
straightforward, rather than only trying to obtain a larger amount of
money by fooling just a few suckers (and annoying everyone else).
The beauty of the system is that everyone has an incentive to
participate. The spammers get more money, as the spams can generate
income now from both the suckers, and the nonsuckers paying mailbox
protection fees. There's no reason to evade spam-detection, in fact
the opposite. The more people signed up to the protection racket, the
more certification tokens are redeemed. The smart users get to have a
workable mailbox, rather than one filled with junk. And they have the
"peace of mind" that the mail being deleted is not important. It's the
magic of the market at work.