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Paid Delivery (was Re: remailer abuse)

At 5:21 AM 11/20/95, Corey Bridges wrote:
>At 05:27 PM 11/19/95 -0800, Greg Broiles wrote:
>> If A wants to send
>>messages to B, but B doesn't want to receive them, should A be forced to
>>stop sending?
>My rambling $.02:
>I haven't thought all this through, but I have an emerging stance. Just this
>week I've started ploughing through the Cyphernomicon, and was smacked in
>the face with the eminently pragmatic Mr. May's statement that any law that
>cannot be enforced should not exist.

Thanks. It's always heartening to see that someone is affected positively
by one's arguments.

>Up until, say, this week, I'd always been in favor of Caller ID. I'd figured
>if anyone wants to call me, I have the right to know who it is. By default,
>I had adopted this position concerning email. Now, one day I will receive an
>anonymous email. Will I be offended? Maybe. Can I do anything about it? Not
>likely. Anonymous communication is only going to get easier. Current

Yes, anonymous communication is getting easier, and the costs of trying to
stop it are becoming impossibly high. It would essentially require a police
state to stop, and even then it probably couldn't be stopped...for example,
I could always set up a "Tim's Quoting Service," which passes on anonymous
mail to a recipient with the "Hey, someone says this..." Could I be
prosecuted? Not even in a police state. Just one of dozens of approaches to
skirt such laws.

However, anticipating your next point, this does not mean anonymous
communication bandwidth will become infinite. Solutions are predictable.
See below.

>congressional prattling notwithstanding, the onus of responsibility will
>have to shift to the recipient. For example, I could configure my mail
>program to automatically throw away any incoming message with "anonymous" in
>the "From" header. (Or any message from *@pseudo.goldenbear.com, for that
>If junk mail continues to bother people, it's only a matter of time until
>mail programs' filtering capabilities become much more sophisticated. (Of
>course, for all I know, there already ARE programs that do what I'm about to
>propose.) People can maintain a "do not accept from" list, containing every
>anonymous remailer they've ever heard about, or an "accept only from" list,

Many of us do this all the time. The Macintosh (and Windows) mail program I
currently use is "Eudora Pro," from Qualcomm. Extensive filtering options.
Certainly it is possible to set up filters to put mail from "anonymous"
into mailboxes, or the trash. And just as possible, though a bit more
involved, to put mail from _desired_ sources into boxes, or have a priority
flag raised, etc.

What if one is "bombarded" by mail, thousands of messages a day, or many

There are two main options, besides meaningless clamoring for legislation
against "junk mail":

1. Some services, like Prodigy, allow one to discard a message before
reading it, with no charge. (Seeing the sender and message name only.) This
does not solve the problem completely, but it certainly eliminates cost to
the enduser. The service provider still has the mail, but at least his
network connections are likely to not be much affected....still possible to
bring the service to its knees, which brings up the second approach....:

2. Sender pays the costs of transmission. That is, if someone wishes to
send 10 megabytes to a site, at least _he_ (or _she_) pays the freight.
This is of course the way things now work with the U.S. postal system, with
"Postage Due" no longer common: if the sender doesn't

In the real world, nothing is really free, so the whole economics of the
Internet has been deceiving for quite some time. The notion that one can
"spam" for free, shipping megabytes to thousands of sites, has led to
strange notions about the economics of the Net and, as a result, for calls
for new laws about "unwanted e-mail," "spamming," etc.

Of course, most users on the Net are now paying for connectivity one way or
another. Even U.C. Berkeley, one of the pioneers in Unix and campus
connections to the Net, has subcontracted out it's Net connections to
Netcom, with students and faculty paying around $15 a month. A sign of the
times. (There are also reasons why at least so far it has proven viable to
_not_ charge for individual transmissions. Various kinds of subsidies.)

Filtering is a solution for the reader not to have see stuff he doesn't
want to see, but he or his ISP may still receive the stuff, even if it gets
discarded, which is why the long term solution is likely to involve paid

(Needless to say, this is not currently part of the Net, and I'm not
suggesting it will happen anytime soon, or because I happen to think it's a
solution. Rather, what I'm saying is that it's a _technological_ and
_market_ solution to the "problem" of spammage and "unwanted mail filling
up our mailboxes." How it happens is unclear. But think of how markets
generally evolve to deal with what would naively be seen as unsolvable
crises or shortages. Long before we all are getting gigabytes of unwanted
stuff every day, alternatives will develop. I am confident that paid
delivery is one of the keys.)

>And to take a stab at another pair of Greg's questions, if A is sending
>messages from his account on X's system to B, and B doesn't want to receive
>them, should B have the right to make X stop A? No. (Not that I think the
>law is going to realize that any time soon.) Should X have the right to stop
>A? Hell yes--it's his system. Let A find a more open-minded ISP if he
>doesn't like it.

Amen. Exactly.

>Corey Bridges
>Security Scribe
>Netscape Communications Corporation

Interesting. And now I'm even happier to have partly made a convert.

--Tim May

Views here are not the views of my Internet Service Provider or Government.
Timothy C. May              | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,
[email protected]  408-728-0152 | anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms, zero
Corralitos, CA              | knowledge, reputations, information markets,
Higher Power: 2^756839      | black markets, collapse of governments.
"National borders are just speed bumps on the information superhighway."