In this article, we propose a new micropayment model for nonspecialized commodity web-services based on microcomputations. In our model, a user that wishes to access online content (offered by a website) does not need to register or pay to access the website; instead, he will accept to run microcomputations on behalf of the service provider in exchange for access to the content. These microcomputations can, for example, support ongoing computing projects that have clear social benefits (e.g., projects relating to medical research) or can contribute towards commercial computing projects. We analyze the security and privacy of our proposal and we show that it preserves the privacy of users. We argue that this micropayment model is economically and technically viable and that it can be integrated in existing distributed computing frameworks (e.g., the BOINC platform). In this respect, we implement a prototype of a system based on our model and we deploy our prototype on Amazon Mechanical Turk to evaluate its performance and usability given a large number of users. Our results show that our proposed scheme does not affect the browsing experience of users and is likely to be used by a non-trivial proportion of users. Finally, we empirically show that our scheme incurs comparable bandwidth and CPU consumption to the resource usage incurred by online advertisements featured in popular websites.
ACM Transactions on Internet Technology, May 2014, vol. 13, n°3