The man who invented the internet smiley has developed a protocol that charges spammers for wasting your time.
Scott Fahlman's protocol, which was published in IBM's Systems Journal, calls for new phones and email software that would require fees to accept incoming messages.
The charge could be waived for welcome email and calls at the touch of a button, but collected for unsolicited spam and intrusive telemarketing calls.
"This payment compensates me for suffering an unwanted interruption and, more importantly, it has cost you something to bother me," wrote Fahlman.
Friends, family and frequent known callers could be given 'interrupt tokens' that would allow them to bypass the system.
Fahlman claims that the program would all but eliminate spam and telemarketing, and that any messages that slipped through the net would be seen as "a windfall rather than a nuisance".
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