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Spamless Email in Germany?

Image via Flickr user arnold | inuyaki

Will we ever be able to comprehensively rid ourselves of spam?  When you consider that 78.7% of all email in February of this year was spam, the outlook isn’t so promising.

In theory, it doesn’t seem so hard like it should be so hard.  If there were a way to make Internet users authenticate their identities each time they sent an email, then it would be easier to identify spammers and block emails from them.  Or alternatively, if people were charged for every email they sent, it would be much harder for spammers to profit off massive spamming campaigns.

Putting these theories into practice is a totally different story though.  There’s a reason the world has been suffering from annoying spam since the inception of email.  Yet despite being an enormously ambitious task, Germany has set out to defeat spam.

Germany’s spam-fighting weapon’s name?  “De-mail”—a play on the words “email” and “De,” the abbreviation for DeutschlandDe-mail is a government-backed email service that seeks to provide an electronic equivalent to signed documents—a digital alternative to official mail you physically receive in the mailbox.

De-mail will be encrypted and digitally signed so that messages can’t be intercepted or modified in transit.  Also, businesses and individuals who use it will need to prove their real-world identity before they can send or receive messages.  While service providers will be legally obligated to deliver all De-mail messages, they will also be able to legally charge for sending messages.

The service made a big splash at the opening of this year’s CeBIT trade show, the world’s largest and most international trade show.  The details surrounding the service are still being ironed out, but we should soon find out how De-mail’s anti-spam capabilities fair.

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