Perhaps it's just the winter, but I as I erect more startups, I find myself growing more critical as to what is worth pursuing. Here, after all, is a perfectly interesting idea I conjured up today that I nevertheless toss out as a throw-away:
1) A form where a user enters in a recipient's name, physical address (perhaps), and a message.
3) His friend clicks on the link and lands on a screen explaining that, in order to see the message, he must first prove his identity. To do this, he must sumbit a payment of 9 cents via Paypal. Passing this, it is requested that he paste in the encryption key. Then the encrypted message is transported to his browser, and it is decrypted by means of the encryption key he pasted.
Three things (alphabetically):
A. Why this is reasonably secure.
B. Why it is a pretty good idea.
C. Why I am throwing it away.
C. This idea is bad mainly for marketing reasons. Geeks probably won't pick it up, since they know there are "better ways" to communicate securely (even if they actually don't use them). So getting across to the initial audience will be difficult---how do you reach business people and lawyers on a matter of communication security, when the geek community won't even back you up? Perhaps a company with a large marketing budget could do it, but certainly not us. There are some user annoyances which add to the difficulty. People don't like paying for anything on the net, and paypal in particularly has a rather irritating interface. Perhaps a startup with more capital could overcome this by opening their own merchant account. In any case, sending somebody a message which they can only read by paying is well, rather gauche, isn't it?
So go ahead, prove me wrong. It'll make me less "pessimistic." But if you've got the cash to market it---to do it right---well, you might just end up proving me right.