A new Apple patent describes the methods the company has come up with in an effort to fight the increased number of spam messages that flood email accounts, AppleInsider reveals. According to the patent, called “Disposable email address generation and mapping to a regular email account” the system would be able to generate disposable email addresses that would be tied to a permanent email address belonging to the user.
“Email has become ubiquitous, and email addresses are requested often as postal addresses. When consumers use shopping websites to order goods or services, those websites typically request the consumer’s email address to allow communication with the user about the order. Even paper forms filled out with pen and ink often request email addresses,” Apple’s patent application says. “With the increased usage and importance of email also came, unfortunately, misuse of email addresses to send undesirable commercial email in bulk, the ‘junk mail’ of the electronic world, often referred to as ‘spam.’ Some reports have claimed that spam email accounts for 90% of all email, with trillions of spam emails being sent. Numerous approaches to stopping spam email from reaching the inbox of consumers have been tried, with varying degrees of success. But spam continues to be a problem for many people.”
These disposable accounts would be intelligent enough to track the origin of spam messages, as they could be tagged with contextual clues. That way, a user sharing a disposable account with third parties would be able to see what person or company shared the disposable email with spammers.
Emails sent to disposable accounts will be forwarded to the permanent address, without exposing the permanent account in the email exchange process that would follow. Disposable accounts will appear as regular email addresses to senders, who will not be able to tell the difference between a genuine account and a disposable email. Disposable accounts can then be removed as spam emails appear, or set to expire after a certain date or number of uses.
Apple’s method of tackling spam email isn’t necessarily new, but in this case the system would be handling the whole process. Instead of users having to get disposable accounts from other sources than their primary providers, Apple’s automated system would create the disposable email accounts whenever users need them.
The patent also describes ways of implementing the system including browser plugins, email clients and servers, and user interfaces for apps and web clients. It is not clear though how or whether Apple will implement this spam email fighting techniques in any of its future products.