Re: Economics of SPAM [Was: Micorsoft's Sender ID Authentication......?]

From: John Levine (no email)
Date: Mon Jun 13 2005 - 16:02:53 EDT

  • Next message: william(at)elan.net: "Paper on Email Authentication (Authorization really) (was - Re: Micorsoft's Sender ID Authentication......?)"

    We've been here before, but to recap.

    >1. If a particular billing/business model presents difficulties then
    > we might have to consider a different model, others are possible
    > (hence, straw man of e-postage etc.)

    I look forward to hearing about a design for an email billing system
    that does not require technology that is two orders of magnitude
    beyond the state of the art and would be effective against spammers.
    I hope my inability to envision one is just due to lack of
    imagination, but I've been asking for years and I've never seen
    anything even close. It's not hard to sketch out a scheme that does
    statistical billing and works so long as everyone plays more or less
    by the rules. It is far harder to come up with one that will work
    against determined bad guys who would be delighted if 1% of their mail
    leaked through without paying (or paid by other people.)

    >2. It would seem to say, for example, the long distance voice billing
    > system is impossible since it would seem to have many of the same
    > qualities you delineate as insurmountable obstacles.

    Telephony is heavily regulated, has high costs of entry, has nothing
    comparable to the spam problem (fraudulent callers at higher volumes
    than legit callers), and is still subject to gross frauds like MCI.
    I'm thinking both of MCI's accounting frauds, and of more technical
    stuff like routing calls through Canada and reoriginating them at
    small telcos in the upper midwest to make them look like local rather
    than long distance traffic. Is that really the business you want to
    be in? It is also my impression that the number of phone calls is a
    whole lot less than the number of e-mail messages, returning us to the
    previous problem.

    I can't help but note that telephony is rapidly moving in the other
    direction, away from itemized billing. My phone service is now flat
    rate for calls to anywhere from Honolulu to Helsinki. Perhaps they
    know something.

    >Most importantly the big difference between those billing systems and
    >e-mail is that there are billions and billions of dollars in those
    >voice billing systems and the systems they support. There is very
    >little money in e-mail,

    This part, I completely agree with. No matter what anti-spam
    technique you propose, someone will complain that it costs too much.
    (This is particularly true of bulk marketers who apparently think that
    if e-mail were merely 100 times cheaper than paper mail rather than
    1000 times cheaper, mass bankruptcies would ensue.)

    Spamhaus says, on the record, that MCI and SBC will not disconnect
    spammers for anything other than non-payment. The money is talking
    there. One of the few hopeful signs on the horizon is that Verizon,
    for all its faults, has a lot better history of booting off spammers
    than MCI does.

    R's,
    John


  • Next message: william(at)elan.net: "Paper on Email Authentication (Authorization really) (was - Re: Micorsoft's Sender ID Authentication......?)"





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