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Welcome to STop, the Seattle Times Opinion blog where our editorial writers and editors share their evolving thoughts on a variety of issues. STop is a place where opinion writers and readers can exchange views and readers can learn more about how editorial positions are formed.

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February 03, 2004

E-mail postage?

So apparently Microsoft and Yahoo, operators of the two largest e-mail systems, are considering finding a way to require postage with email, not necessarily to make money, but to ferret out the spammers.

At first blush, I don't like the idea of having to pay for what I enjoy now for free. How easy it is to dash off a thought to an old friend, remind my spouse about our son's appointment or communicate with a busy teacher. If each push of the "send" button was accompanied with a "cha-ching," I probably would continue to do some of that but would stifle my witty response to my e-correspondent's last post. I'd probably use the phone more and grow wistful for the days of free-and-easy e-mail chitchat.

On the other hand, I would like to charge the spammers to death!! Just today I got an email from some jerk spammer, thanking me for my subscription to three months of child porn. It was so annoying I was tempted to click on the button to cancel the service to complain about it. Instead I deleted it and went on to delete bogus emails about my bank account and from several spouses, cousins, nephews of deposed rulers of African countries. Then there were the soliciations for Viagra and enhancement of body parts.

We all get them--and some spam has turned predatory. U.S. Bank's name was used for chicanery by spammers asking people to verify their information before their account could be unfrozen. Many people, like me, who got that one, didn't even have a US Bank account. Cops say the bad guys were trying to steal personal information to steal identities. Nice.

Maybe charging these goons wouldn't be so bad if it would at least stop the deluge. Maybe there's a way to charge companies who send out large quantities of e-mail (say 30,000). Gosh, I can't imagine many people ever fall for these things, so the return on investment would be pretty low.

Stop the spammers!!!

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Posted by Kate Riley at February 3, 2004 03:56 PM



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