More on Email’s Future

Salon features comments by four Internet pioneers — Dave Farber, Dave Crocker, Brad Templeton and Jakob Nielsen — on what to do with email. Some comments:

Farber: Authentication of addresses would help an awful lot. A lot of the spam is forged, and we’ve know for 30 years that e-mail has this problem, and nobody seems to want to invest in fixing it. You need to encourage and maybe fund technology that lets a user authenticate that mail comes from who they chose it to come from — personal “whitelisting.” Some of the spam filters do that — anybody in your address book bypasses your spam filters.

Crocker: My personal favorite for proactive approaches to spam is to increase the accountability. That’s not the same as authentication. It says, if I need to find the author of the message, there is a path to them. It does not automatically require that they sign the message but provides a reliable way to link a message back to the originator.

Nielsen: I think basically e-mail does not work anymore, which means that we have to tear it apart. The combination of spam and viruses makes e-mail a polluted, dirty, unsafe environment…[In the future], I think that it would have to be a system that has built-in security and authentication that you can always track down. You know where it’s coming from, and it’s always encrypted and always secure.


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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.