Sender ID is one of the newest entrants into the email authentication battle. Born out of a marriage of the AOL supported SPF and Microsoft's original CallerID proposal, Sender ID seemed to have everything going for it. It even gained strong support from my industry's trade group, the ESPC. But then, everything seemed to fall apart.
First, the influential open source group, the Apache Foundation, came out against SenderID, which was quickly followed by a much stronger lack of support from the Internet's main standards body, the IETF.
The latest blow came when AOL announced that they too would not support SenderID.
What's going on?
How can something as positive as a widely announced spam fighting technology suddenly find itself alienated from the marketing and technology industries?
The answer is simple: Microsoft claims they own some of the technology behind SenderID. While Microsoft has stated their willingness to freely share the technology, they are adamant about having everyone that uses it sign a license with them. Most of the Internet standards that have really succeeded had no such restrictions or requirements and the Internet's governing bodies ultimately decided not to endorse this standard with so many strings attached.
Personally, I am for capitalism as much as the next guy but this situation calls for a bit more community commitment on Microsoft's part. SPF and SenderID are probably the most promising approaches to slowing spam that we have seen in years. To have this effort grind to a halt suddenly because Bill Gates is focused on building Microsoft's intellectual property war chest seems to miss the bigger issue facing us all. I can't pretend to know what is on Microsoft's mind but they need to take a step back and simply contribute all the necessary licenses to get this promising standard back on track. That's my two cents...