Senator Proposes Email Tax

from the ah,-that-again dept

One of the popular ideas that always gets kicked around as a way to stop spam is to add a “small” fee to every email that gets sent. This isn’t on the basis of any real costs, but simply on the basis of stopping spam. Now it appears that a Senator is starting to push for the idea (though, worded in a way that he can later say he didn’t push for it – if it proves to be politically unpopular). At a first pass, it may sound sensible, but there are any number of problems with the idea. First, the added cost of setting up, monitoring and maintaining such a system – and collecting the “tax” would be prohibitively expensive. Not to mention the fact that spammers would simply figure out a way around the plan – and the only people left paying the “tax” would be folks sending email legitimately. Running a mailing list would suddenly become much more expensive as well. It sounds like, so far, most of the problems with an email tax have been clearly stated, so it’s unlikely to go anywhere. These are all attempts at “simple” solutions – and people are becoming aware of the fact that spam isn’t a simple problem with a simple solution.

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Senator Proposes Email Tax”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
BtG says:

No Subject Given

a “tax” is a national solution — spam is an international problem. Does this mean that under an email tax system that my friends in Sweden won’t be able to email me witthout paying an import email tax ?
What about all my good friends in China who want to sell me herbal via…, oh, wait, nevermind. those are not my good friends, my fault, sorry

Anonymous Coward says:

No Subject Given

spammers who “avoid” the tax will be federal criminals. Those paying will simply be funding the governing agency to identify, catch, and convict spammers.

Taxes for this scheme should be levied on the sender, and no, national issues are not really a problem: every telco in every nation charges a connection fee to telcos from other countries for every call completed to their country. It would become an international phenomenon, to be sure.

For such a system to be built, you’d need an email payment clearinghouse and encryption/security for said system.

Let’s face it, upgrading the world’s email systems to make them spam free, secure, and encrypted would be nice. I’d pay by the message for those things. Pity it takes a government action to make such a solution viable.

itchyfish says:

Why not..

sell emails by the bulk? As a customer of an ISP, as part of your account you get to send, just for example, 500 emails a month. If you want more, pay $9.95 and you get 500 more. Obviously, there are details to be worked out, but it’s not a tax “after the fact”, you pay before you can send. The ISP can pay a portion up the chain, etc. so the collection becomes much simpler for everyone involved. We’re not paying people to simply go catch spammers. Dunno, just a thought off the top of my head.

achacha says:

No Subject Given

Spammers set up shops abroad and often exploit mail servers of regular businesses. This “tax” will penalize honest people and spammers will still get away with it.

The answer is to drop SMTP and use a more secure protocol that authneticates the sender certificate and provides some authentication. If you slow the bulk mail down by process, it will become unprofitable. Spammers usually blast millions of emails an hour, I don’t know of any mailing list that has that many subscribers (so that “what about mailing lists” arguement is not an issue since legit lists won’t mind identifying themselves).

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...