NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Stopping Spam by Charging the Sender

September 3, 2003

One man is hoping to put a stop to spam by putting a price on it. Spam, or unwanted e-mail advertisements, puts a huge strain on both Internet users and Internet Service Providers (ISPs).

  • ISPs process 6.9 billion spam messages a day.
  • America Online recently estimated that as much as 80 percent of all e-mail sent to its subscribers is spam.

Philip Raymond, a software executive, has a provisional patent on a new service called Vanquish, which requires e-mail senders to post a cash bond of five cents into a bank account for every piece of e-mail they send.

If any recipient judges the e-mail to be unwanted spam, the sender loses that five cents. Four cents would then go to the recipient's ISP and one cent would go to Vanquish for processing costs.

In a trial of Vanquish involving 400 customers who were offered the service for free, spam was routinely blocked out. Raymond wants to sign up 35 million users by the end of the year and expects ISPs to pay 20 to 45 cents per customer per month. So far, though, his firm hasn't been profitable despite the critical need for effective spam-blocking software.

Source: Matthew Swibel, "Pay Up! A Promising Way to Curb Spam: Charge the Sender," Forbes, July 7, 2003.

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