Finally! The Argument Against E-Postage


Link: An Overview of E-Postage. (826KB PDF)

I recently blogged a pointer to John Levine's critique of challenge-response anti-spam systems. There is another bad anti-spam technology people have been talking about lately: e-postage. John has just posted a new paper that highlights its many problems.

The idea behind e-postage is to turn the economics of Internet email around, from recipient pays to sender pays. If you can do that, then you've just obliterated the economic foundation that underpins spam.

It turns out, however, that e-postage suffers from many flaws. I think John's arguments regarding the scale of the infrastructure required to support e-postage and users' attitudes toward micropayments are very compelling.

The arguments about failures in the system--the "Postage Games" section--seem less so. That's unfortunate, because I believe that's one of the most critical problems with e-postage systems. System failures can negate the value of the system (i.e. spammers get around it), or even cause great harm (i.e. spammers swindle money from innocent victims, a few e-stamps at a time). Since this paper is a work-in-progress, I think these concerns may be better reflected in a future version.