@Kryztoval let me jump in here. (I am from the dev team)
In fact spam prevention is major driver here. When we do the match it turns out that for a $1 we can post terabytes of data to the chain. Because of that, the change was coming anyway and communication about it was especially hard. If we highlighted the issue and planned prevention, the chain got super vulnerable for the time until upgrade. This is why we communicate it post-release. I hope you can justify us here.
Regarding the fees alone. They are still low. Fee filter have two layers. The first is configurable by miners and it doesn’t impact consensus and protocol. It is in miners hands anyway. Alternative implementation could have it.
The second layer of fee control is in protocol - the minimum gas cost. Currently, it is much stronger condition and this is why we made it 3 orders of magnitude lower.
Currently you may hit the first layer - configuration by miners. The second is 1. much lower 2. not activated.
Still, when we implement governance, community may create a poll and adjust it. Before that we need to find middle ground by negotiating here
The extra benefit is that our NG consensus algorithm may work better with bigger fees.
Also, I would like to comment about your point regarding another blockchains. It is worth to mention that we have functioning state channels that let us remove whole lot communication off chain! The fee adjustment doesn’t impact in-channel communication!
@Kryztoval with that broader view - what’s your position on that change?