If the U.S. Postal Service delivered mail for free, our mailboxes would surely runneth over with more credit-card offers, sweepstakes entries, and supermarket fliers. That's why we get so much junk e-mail: It's essentially free to send. So Microsoft Corp. chairman Bill Gates, among others, is now suggesting that we start buying "stamps" for e-mail.
Many Internet analysts worry, though, that turning e-mail into an economic commodity would undermine its value in democratizing communication. But let's start with the math: At perhaps a penny or less per item, e-mail postage wouldn't significantly dent the pocketbooks of people who send only a few messages a day. Not so for spammers who mail millions at a time.
Though postage proposals have been in limited discussion for years -- a team at Microsoft Research has been at it since 2001 -- Gates gave the idea a lift in January at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Details came last week as part of Microsoft's anti-spam strategy. Instead of paying a penny, the sender would "buy" postage by devoting maybe 10 seconds of computing time to solving a math puzzle. The exercise would merely serve as proof of the sender's good faith.
News source: CNN