Anyone with a Hotmail or Yahoo account is well acquainted with the inconvenience and irritation of e-mail inboxes brimming with unwanted offers of opportunities to earn thousands while working from the comfort of home, ways to improve sexual stamina, or miracle weight-loss pills. Spam, the common term for unsolicited commercial e-mail, has plagued both computer-savvy and technologically-challenged individuals. Most users quickly learn to identify and delete junk e-mail. Although some spammers have devised sophisticated techniques to disguise the true nature of their messages, most spam is relatively simple for recipients to spot and discard. In the workplace, spam is more problematic because it interferes with productivity. To account for this issue, businesses are forced to invest in expensive screening programs that filter the offensive material, while funneling through legitimate messages.
In response to the inefficiency of sorting genuine constituent e-mail from spam, many congressional members began implementing “logic game” software to facilitate the organization of legitimate messages and block unwanted e-mail. The “logic game” is an additional filter apart from protections previously in place. After completing a webform with contact information and selecting a pre-approved issue, the logic-puzzle feature further compels the correspondent to solve a simple math equation. These logic puzzles are CAPTCHA filters, similar to those used on commercial Web sites such as Ticketmaster or Paypal, which deter automated registration and ensure that the e-mailers are human and not computers with distorted text only humans can decode. CAPTCHAs, named as an acronym for Completely Automated Public Turing Test to Tell Computers and Humans Apart, are automatically generated tests designed to allow humans to pass and computer programs to fail. . . .