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The Trusted Email Open Standard

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On April 30, 2003, an organization known as ePrivacy Group, of which Stephen Cobb was a co-founder, announced the Trusted Email Open Standard (TEOS) as a way to fight spam, message spoofing, and email fraud. The purpose of this page is to provide ongoing access to that body of work.

TEOS generated enormous interest when it was presented to industry and regulatory leaders at the Federal Trade Commission's Spam Forum in Washington. Within a few days the whitepaper was downloaded more than 1,000 times (total downloads by the end of 2003 exceeded 30,000). About three weeks after TEOS was released, its key elements appeared in an open letter written by Bill Gates, Chairman & Chief Software Architect, Microsoft Corporation, to the U.S. Senate:

"We support the establishment of an independent trust authority or authorities around the globe that could spearhead industry best practices, and then serve as an ongoing resource for email certification and customer dispute resolution. In short, these authorities could provide mechanisms to identify legitimate email, making it easier for consumers and businesses to distinguish wanted mail from unwanted mail. Of course, any technology designed to establish the identity of legitimate commercial firms and associate them with a trusted sender 'seal' should be based on open standards and developed with broad input from affected industries."

Bill Gates, Open Letter to Senator John McCain, Chairman and Senator Ernest F. Hollings, Ranking Member U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, May 21, 2003

The Trusted Email Open Standard is presented in a 35-page white paper that includes a 3-page Executive Summary and an Appendix describing field tests of technology that verifies sender identity and assertions about messages:

Trusted Email Open Standard (TEOS)
in Adobe Acrobat PDF format (715Kb)

Supporting Material

Slides outlining the TEOS standard were made available in April of 2003 called Presentation Announcing TEOS (in Microsoft Powerpoint format--950Kb)

Here is a copy of tThe 4/30/03 press release announcing the Trusted Email Open Standard (in Acrobat PDF format--91Kb)

Here is a copy of the 5/2/03 press release announcing endorsement of TEOS by leading consumer groups: CAUCE, SpamCon Foundation, and CAUCE Canada in Acrobat PDF format--72Kb)

Here is a copy of the 5/22/03 press release about Microsoft's support for trusted email open standards and trusted sender seals (in Acrobat PDF format--91Kb)

A ten point summary of the standard is available at this web site: TEOS Summar by Stephen Cobb

The full text of Bill Gates' letter to the Senate is here.

Post TEOS Developments (a very incomplete list)

In December of 2003, one of the world's largest email service providers, Yahoo, announced plans to develop "Domain Keys" technology for email sender identity. This technology is very similar to that proposed as Trusted Email Domain Identity in TEOS, and already deployed in ePrivacy Group's Trusted Sender products.

In January of 2004, Mr. Gates made another big speech about spam, this time claiming that the problem would be solved within two years. (Check out the "spam-be-gone" countdown.)

For more up-to-date details, see: CAUCE, SpamCon Foundation, and CAUCE Canada.

Updated January, 2007, by webbloke at © Stephen Cobb, 1996-2005
Some article content reprinted by permission. copyright named author(s).