Thursday, 17 February 2011

A scheme to combat SPAM email.

This scheme works on the basis of pre-payment for email to registered clients. The internet postage fee amount would be tiny, but would be sufficiently significant to deter the high volume SPAM generators.

For the sake of argument we propose $0.01 per addressee (or cc). Any funds raised would be used to help fund the United Nations after deduction of operational costs.

The pre-payment idea is not new, but opponents to the scheme argue it would be too difficult to have central servers tracking the “Internet Tax.” I’ve personally had that debate in public with the gentleman who is one of the driving forces behind Spamhaus.org. It is deeply ironic that the spamhaus.org servers and data are used by many email servers to validate the IP address of individual messages.

Concept No: 1 – Client registration

Individual users, or support personnel on their behalf, send an electronic message to a central registry to request a public key identity associated with their full internet email address. That public key is then registered as part of the email details on the software email client or on the ISP mail servers or on the public email provider such as hotmail.

Concept No: 2 – Pre-purchase of Internet Stamp

Any person validly wishing to send an email to an individual buys an email stamp for one cent, from a Registrar service, in advance of sending the email. The “stamp” will be encrypted on the basis of the Registrar key and the public key of that email address.

The one cent cost of the stamp will be deducted from the account of the sender at the time of purchase. The stamp will be valid for 24 hours. Users will be able to purchase credit for their directly from the registrar.

The encrypted Internet Stamp will also contain the identity key of the person/organisation purchasing the stamp.

Concept No: 3 – Transmitting Email Server embeds Internet Stamp in message.

When the message is transmitted either the client email software or the ISP server will embed the encrypted Internet Stamp in the headers of the email message to the selected user.

Concept No: 4 – Destination Email Server decrypts Internet Stamp.

When the email message is received by the destination email server the embedded Internet Stamp is decrypted on the basis of the email addressee and their pre-stored public identity key. If the stamp is valid the email can be accepted and forwarded to the target client.

Of course there is nothing to stop the server accepting other messages if the registered user has no objections, but no doubt having taken the opportunity to register the majority of users will choose to block mail from unknown or unfunded originators.

If organisations sending unsolicited email choose to send funded email bearing a genuine Internet Stamp it will greatly increase their costs. The public will also have the opportunity to report unwanted unsolicited emails by virtue of the originator key embedded in the Internet Stamp. The central registry will be able to apply sanctions against that account in the event of a significant level of complaints.

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