It’s time for an end to “free” email.
“Free” email has resulted in the deluge of Spam that currently clogs our inboxes. 99% of email that I get is just plain trash.
Once your name is on a spam list, it’s on it forever. And if you’ve EVER typed your email addres into ANYTHING on the internet, then your name is probably on several lists already. You will NEVER stop getting spam – ever. These lists are sold and resold a hundred times a month.
Charging to SEND each email would immediately stop a lot of this because spam email lists are typically lists of MILLIONS of email addresses, which the buyer knows will contain a LOT (probably 90% or more) of dead addresses.
But email is free! It costs them nothing to send to those three million “dead” email addresses in order to reach the few hundred thousand in the list that are probably good. Charging to send each email would immediately make those huge “mega-lists” obsolete as spammers would then have to trim those lists down to size and to bring the mailing costs to within reason – an impossible task!
If an email incurs cost (almost any cost at all – just a penny) then suddenly every single email address in their lists carries the weight of an asset or a liability – a value that they then have to justify in order to sell the list.
Spammers know that their email barrage is going to net them about a one tenth of one percent success rate. They know that with a list of six million email addresses, they are likly to only see 1/10th of 1%, or 6000 replies. It’s worth it to them, though, because it costs them nothing to hit the other 5,994,000 in the processes in pursuing their 6000 good hits.
Suppose an email cost a penny to send. Suddenly, spamming with a 6 million email address database becomes a matter of spending six millions pennies ($60,000) in order to reach one tenth of one percent of valid addresses the list contains (6,000, or $60 worth of email). $60,000 to send email that should only cost $60.
Charging for email brings market forces to bear on spammers. Market forces are the ONLY regulation on junk mail right now, and you do not flip open the lid on your mailbox and find 99 envelopes full of garbage and 1 letter you actually want – EVERY SINGLE DAY. Junk mail costs money to produce and to mail. And because of that, it is self regulating. When the return fails to cover the cost, it stops. Plain and simple.
For those complaining that it’s unconstitutional, or unfair to do this, or whatever other silly liberal socialist reason, I propose two separate systems – the constitutional “free” system that we have already, and a commercial, opt-in system for those of us willing to pay for email services.
I propose that the two systems coexist, but that each be optional. Thus, if you do not want to pay to send me an email, you don’t have to – you can send to my “free email” address. But unless I think to check that email address, I won’t see your email. And lets face it, if you can’t be bothered to spend a penny to send me an email, I probably don’t want to hear from you anyway.
This is entirely possible RIGHT NOW. The difficulty is in waiting for some clear market leader to emerge. Right now, we are all like the people waiting to buy a video recorder until we see how the Beta/VHS war pans out.
If there were a recognizable, central, mailing authority who gauranteed charges would be charged and collected, and mail delivered, I’d sign up immediately and pay a penny an email, so long as the payment methods can be made relatively easily. That means, credit card over the internet, or stop by the “post office” to buy electronic stamps.
The USPS Seems a perfect candidate for this, if you ask me. Just covering mail to and from domestic United States destinations, and let them figure out how to handle an international exchange/forwarding system. Cause, let’s face it. If you cannot be bothered to live in a country that I’d actually care to get email from, then I prolly don’t want it in the first place. (Tongue-in-cheeck 🙂 But really, What good reason is there for some bank manager in Nigeria or Ivory Coast to contact me? Zero!
Just reliably handle domestic email, and I’d sign up for that alone.