Why it’s necessary to reform the world e-mail system

Short answer:
Because of spam.

Long answer:
Do you know that e-mail comes from the early ’70s?

One upon a time… only militar people – and then univerities – had access to the Internet (aka ARPANET), and nobody thought that one day anyone will connect to each other with one, unique, world-wide network, without fines. So e-mail protocol was understandably invented without any protection to prevent sending unwanted informations.

Today I can open my notebook, start my e-mail client, type a random e-mail address like bob@aol.com (sorry Bob, I bet you’re resigned) and send him anything I want. It can be an electronic postcard, a joke, an abuse, or simply a spam e-mail.
There’s nothing that can stop me, and I can send 1, 100, 1.000.000.000 of these e-mails (for the last example… maybe with an automatic software). The controls on what I’m sending it’s done when the e-mail are already sent, and there’s no “institutional” systems that prevent my spam to reach its target: only spam filters are able to block it, only a fraction of second before it reaches the recipient’s inbox folder.

The results are under the eyes of everyone: the load of spam in our inbox folder is variable and it’s bound to the performance of the spam filter of our provider (some better, some worse), and it never reaches zero. This is normal: spam filters are based on euristic and experimental methods; they are based on spam lists, “bad” words filtering, manual reports by users… but all of these methods are intended to mitigate the problem, are not able to resolv it, because it’s impossible to fix spam on a system that it’s born when spam didn’t exist.

Europe is in the middle of the process of switch-off for terrestrial broadcasting (we’re passing from 20’s analogic standards to DVB-T in the next years), IPv6 is coming, Netscape is dead but we’re still sending e-mails to each other with the same ’70s protocol, without a definitive spam block system. Spam costs reaches 10 billion a year worldwide. Isn’t the time to take a decision and stop it?

If we decide tomorrow to switch off (it’s sufficient to make providers block, with an international concordance of the main industrialized countries, a couple of ports used by SMTP and POP3 servers to make the old e-mail system hard to use for anyone, and then improfitable for spammers) the current mail servers – worldwide – and to start a new system, costs will be huge… but with a current 10 billion a year we can think about it.

How the new e-mail system should be? It’s better that a real expert will answer this question (maybe we should ask Ray Tomlinson)… I can give you my idea, also to void CAPTCHAs, that are so boring and they aren’t the definitive solution:

A free registration to an international organization, paid by our taxes, that gives and revoke licenses (with login and password) and automatically monitors e-mail traffic of everyone (don’t scream about privacy, also the last tech employee of your provider can read your e-mail today and you’ll never know it). In the case of “strange” traffic (or in the case of complaint) it will block your e-mails and directly contact you to ask an explanation.

I bet this is enough to solve the problem forever. Anyway it’s only my idea, I hope someone else will post its suggestions.

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