In my opinion, the various hashcash-to-stop-spam style schemes are not
very useful, because spammers now routinely use automation to break
into vast numbers of home computers and use them to send their
spam. They're not paying for CPU time or other resources, so they
won't care if it takes more effort to send. No amount of research into
interesting methods to force people to spend CPU time to send mail
will injure the spammers.

By the way, this of course points out that most spammers these days,
regardless of their protestations about being "legitimate
businessmen", are in fact already multiple felons even to a
libertarian like me.  The stats places like Spamhaus produce show that
all the biggest spammers are indeed based in the US even if they use
foreign machines in their work, and throwing them in jail would
probably help.  The fact that the FBI and similar agencies rarely or
never arrest anyone for breaking the law in the course of spamming
just points out that the problem isn't a lack of laws or technology
but raging incompetence and disinterest on the part of law enforcement.

However, as this isn't a spam list, I'll get off of that rant right
now.

I've heard all sorts of other claims about how technology could help
with spam, and they're usually well intentioned but misguided. Two in
particular come to mind:

1. "We need public key authentication of all mail". Well, I'll point
out that large integers are cheap and plentiful. "Authenticated"
spam is pretty much as bad as non-"Authenticated" spam. If we use
the authentication to only accept mail from people we already know
we want to talk to, we've drastically reduced the usefulness of
mail.

2. "The problem is SMTP -- we need to replace it." Every time I hear
this, the speaker rarely has any actual improvements to offer over
what SMTP already does, or, more often, doesn't understand what
SMTP does.

Anyway, enough ranting.

Perry

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