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Search Engine Execs Launch Spam Solution

Staff Writer
Published: 2004-10-20

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Affini launched its initial phase of service as the first easy-to-use, complete solution to the spam problem -- one that empowers both recipients and senders of desirable email communication -- while safeguarding identity and privacy.

Under development for over 18 months by a team of messaging, security, and search experts, Affini combines proprietary search and email technology with the principles of free market economics. Affini offers the first true business solution to the biggest problem of the Internet -- spam -- which has frustrated an industry and a public too focused on technical and legal solutions.

A Business Solution to a Technical and Legal Problem

Affini founder and CEO William I. Chang, Ph.D., was the former CTO and Vice President of Strategy of the Internet search engine Infoseek which became a part of Disney's GO Network. Dr. Chang and his close advisor, ReplayTV founder and former Napster CTO Eddie Kessler, together hold eleven issued and four pending patents and an unmatched experience growing Internet companies to tens of millions of users.

"What is needed is an entirely new way of looking at the problem," according to Dr. Chang, who first conceived the idea in early 2003. Affini will filter email by allowing only messages from identified and approved senders. In addition, members can opt-in to receive highly targeted commercial messages, for which they receive a small fee, charged to the sender as a deterrent to spam. Legitimate senders, individual or commercial, will offer the price of a phone call or postcard to successfully reach Affini members. Spammers will not identify themselves and are unwilling to pay reasonable fees to send their messages. Restoring Integrity to Email and the Internet by Identifying Senders

A key prerequisite to applying the forces of market economics is identifying the players and holding them accountable for their acts. Members of Affini: A Network of Trust establish their Internet identity as legitimate senders of email, and require sender identification from those who wish to contact them. Affini members play a key role in building a strong Network of Trust by vouching for friends, family, colleagues, and other trusted senders, including mailing lists and company domains. The Affini reputation of members as well as nonmembers will become an enabling factor in stopping spam for everyone.

"Affini is really applying the Golden Rule - if you wish to have your rights respected by others, then you must respect their rights too," said Kessler. "If enough people sign up to identify themselves and vouch for their friends, someone who refuses to be identified will be left out. This will revolutionize the Internet to everyone's benefit, except the spammer's."

A Future Internet That is More Safe, Connected, and Useful

Affini has addressed not only the challenging task of stopping spam from reaching recipients, but the far more devastating collateral damage due to spam: trust on the Internet has been decimated; many people have abandoned their long-held email addresses, or else adopted over-zealous spam filters. As a result, it has become increasingly difficult and often impossible to find and reach people using the Internet, leading to lost opportunities such as jobs. By making it safe to have one's email address known publicly, and by enabling legitimate senders to successfully contact Affini members, Affini has created a more open and connected Internet where more people can come together to share their knowledge.

"We all find it incredibly frustrating not to be able to reach people we know," Dr. Chang professed. "And we all feel the same indignity when crimes are committed in our names through email identity theft, which can potentially tarnish our reputation -- or worse. And we will remain powerless unless we band together to form A Network of Trust."

How It Works

Affini members receive a public affini.net email address that is protected from viruses and spam; allowed messages are forwarded to their existing email address. Affini members with POP3 mailboxes may use the Affini Butler service which checks the mailbox and removes viruses and spam. Multiple mailboxes can all be protected and rerouted to a single consolidated mailbox.

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