Imagine an Internet with no junk e-mails clogging inboxes with pitches for pornography, credit repair, low-interest mortgages, and other spam.
When an e-mail subject line says, Found you at last, it really is a long-lost acquaintance, rather than spam from crooks and con artists trying to shear the sheep.
When the return address bears the name of an online merchant, it is legitimate. You can click on the enclosed link, and update your credit card information and other personal data without fearing that some crook is trying to steal your identity.
This is the new Internet a yet-to-be Internet, which I will call Internet S for safe and secure. It s a back-to- the-future information superhighway that reinvents the Internet.
There are no computer viruses, worms, Trojan Horses, or other creations of demented minds lurking to infect your computer. You can open any attached e-mail file, without worrying that a virus will pop out.
Forget buying and constantly updating antivirus software. No more worrying about whether an e-mail got there or got lost in the logjam inside some virus-congested mail server.
Ditto for pop-up advertisements, those annoying ads that materialize on the monitor as you use the Internet. Close one out and anther pops up, its close file icon positioned maddeningly just outside of view on the screen.
Internet S has search engines, of course. And they are strictly on the level.
Web pages appear in the list of results because they are relevant. They fit your search keywords like a hand in a glove. They re not there because a web site paid the search engine company to include its pages in search results.
That s paid inclusion, now booming among some search engines on the existing Internet. On Internet S , paid inclusion is excluded.
When you view a site on Internet S , you also can have confidence that the content is accurate and legit. There are no worries, for instance, about half-baked medical advice that may make you sicker.
Internet S also addresses parents concerns about children viewing sites that showcase hardcore pornography, extreme violence, obscenity, racial slurs, and other material that many people find objectionable.
That s not acceptable on Internet S , no more than it is in old media like radio, commercial television, and daily newspapers.
For there are, indeed, rules for using and placing content on Internet S . And perhaps there are user fees to enforce them.
Maybe every computer with e-mail has its own unique return address. It s a traceable identification number, just like number used with our other communications mainstay the telephone and with regular mail.
What would it cost in money and loss of personal privacy for that oh, so alluring sense of security, order, and honesty.
Anyone hankering for the free-wheeling, wild-west, anything-goes environment of the old Internet could simply click an icon on their computer and return. The original Internet will still there, a parallel universe to the new Internet S .
And the original Internet will still be ailing, even more than today.