Hot Potato: Food for Thought
The Internet
Charge for E-Mail
1997 October 24

We can solve the problem of junk mail on the Internet simply by charging, say, one US cent for every address to which a message is mailed. For any reasonable purpose, this is still negligible. If, however, you're sending junk mail to 5,000,000 addresses, one cent per address works out to a lot more money than most of these people are earning from such a mailing and would pretty much put an end to Internet junk mail.

The Internet would charge for delivery of mail, and access providers would bill their users for each piece of mail sent. The service providers would have to prevent customers from sending huge mailings, except after pre-payment, since the service provider would be obliged to pay the mailing charges regardless of whether or not the customer paid.

Presumably the monthly charge for access would be reduced somewhat. Additional funds would be available for increasing bandwidth, and mail would receive priority handling. Given that mail is probably the most important traffic on the net, this is appropriate.

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