[IP] Charging For E-Mail (fwd from dave at farber.net)

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Mon Feb 2 23:47:10 PST 2004

----- Forwarded message from Dave Farber ----- From: Dave Farber Date:
Mon, 02 Feb 2004 17:34:41 -0500 To: ip at v2.listbox.com Subject: [IP]
Charging For E-Mail X-Mailer: munch X-Mailer: QUALCOMM Windows Eudora
Version Reply-To: dave at farber.net And there are several more good
arguments against it as proposed. Dave Delivered-To:
dfarber+ at ux13.sp.cs.cmu.edu Date: Mon, 02 Feb 2004 12:52:49 -0800 (PST)
From: Lauren Weinstein Subject: Charging For E-Mail To: dave at farber.net
Dave, Just a few notes on the issues of "charging" for e-mail... - As you
point out, any fee structure is likely to start off low and rise as
attempts are made to maximize the profit center on the part of ISPs. -
Once ISP e-mail charging schemes are in place, governments will likely
express interest in potential revenue to be derived from such sources.
The long-debunked rumor of the "e-mail tax" might well become a reality.
It has already been suggested in some quarters that the U.S. Postal
Service's new "Electronic Postmark" EPM/Authentidate system could
ultimately be a model in this regard. - It appears likely that a primary
initial use for e-mail charging schemes would be to allow certain classes
of bulk mailers to bypass ISP anti-spam filters to directly reach the
captive audience of those ISPs. If you've got the bucks, you're
classified as a "good" spammer and your wonderful offers will reach all
those "grateful" e-mail recipients without interference from those pesky
filter rules. - E-mail charging schemes can be used as an excuse to
further bind customers tightly to their current ISPs. The "SPF" e-mail
domain control system already has this effect by discouraging the
legitimate use of alternate domains by users in many cases. -
Widely-deployed e-mail charging would likely require ISPs to attempt
extremely tight, centralized control over e-mail routing to try prevent
"unauthorized" (and uncharged) e-mail flows by users operating their own
MTAs (Mail Transfer Agents), non-escrowed e-mail encryption systems,
and/or other "unapproved" technologies. Such centralized and enforced ISP
control over e-mail would obviously have drastic potential negative
privacy and security impacts. - The concept of widespread, enforced
e-mail charging neglects to acknowledge the reality that e-mail is
fundamentally an end-to-end Internet application that can be
indistinguishable at the data level from most other applications. The
backlash to e-mail charging schemes would likely give rise to vast
distributed "underground" e-mail transport systems, encrypted and even
designed to masquerade as other types of data. Even draconian attempts by
ISPs to limit their subscribers' access to alternate TCP/IP ports would
be unlikely to stem the flood of such alternate e-mail transport
environments, that could even emulate standard Web (HTTP) traffic.
Illicit music file trading would likely look like a drop in the bucket by
comparison. Bottom line: Trying to charge broadly for e-mail could well
provide a textbook definition of "Pandora's Box" brought to life.
--Lauren-- Lauren Weinstein lauren at pfir.org or lauren at vortex.com or
lauren at privacyforum.org Tel: +1 (818) 225-2800 http://www.pfir.org/lauren
Co-Founder, PFIR - People For Internet Responsibility -
http://www.pfir.org Co-Founder, Fact Squad - http://www.factsquad.org
Co-Founder, URIICA - Union for Representative International Internet
Cooperation and Analysis - http://www.uriica.org Moderator, PRIVACY Forum
- http://www.vortex.com Member, ACM Committee on Computers and Public
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