Microsoft is investigating technological solutions to the growing problem of spam email, according to chairman Bill Gates.

The software colossus is eager to clamp down on spam, which Gates believes threatens “the inexorable move toward digital communication.” Last week, it filed lawsuits against fifteen spammers in the US and UK [WAMN: 18-Jun-03].

It is researching two options. The first involves software for a PC that would return emails from unapproved senders with a special computer puzzle attached. The source machine would then solve the puzzle and send the email again, at which point it would be delivered.

This process would take around three seconds, raising the cost of sending an email by one-hundredth of a cent – an insignificant amount to typical user but mucho moolah to a spammer sending millions of emails.

The second solution is to refuse to deliver mail from unknown addresses unless the sender offers the recipient a small payment if the latter opens the email. This fee could be waived by the recipient if it turned out the message was not spam.

Data sourced from: USA Today; additional content by WARC staff