Bonded Sender is a response to the mounting problem of spam in e-mail, and is entirely separate from preventative measures like bayesian filtering. The system has been backed by a large number of corporations including Microsoft, eBay, Warner Music, Verizon and Viacom.

While most spam filters look at the semantic content of e-mail messages, a method which yields a large number of false positives, Bonded Sender asks service providers to pay to join a list of trusted servers. The prices start small but grow to tens of thousands of dollars; payments and trusted lists are secured by the independent privacy organisation TRUSTe.

The theory is that legitimate mass e-mailers will be willing to pay, while spammers (whose activities are often illegal) will not, in part because payment involves proof of identity. Unfortunately, this may swamp small businesses trying to make themselves a name in the market, while securing services associated with larger services like Hotmail.

It might well work - many services have signed up, so time will tell - but some believe there is a potential danger that the system will undermine the free nature of the Internet.

  • The Bonded Sender website is at

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