Giving e-mail back to the users: Using digital signatures to solve the spam problem

Trevor Tompkins, Dan Handley


This paper argues that current legislative and private attempts to stop spam are either ineffective, or involve unacceptable tradeoffs. The key to solving the spam problem is recognizing the importance of e-mail authentication and the granting of permissions. Properly used, digital signatures can easily authenticate e-mail for effective spam control. The ability to manage public keys for verifying digital signatures provides each e-mail user the individual power to control who communicates with her and can therefore completely eliminate the practice of spamming. Finally, we recommend that software developers build the requisite capabilities for managing public keys into their e-mail programs. We argue for a technological solution as opposed to government legislation.

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