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Thursday, March 02, 2006
AOL Criticized for Pay-to-Send Email Service


America Online says it plans to charge for emails within the next 30 days, despite growing criticism from organizations claiming AOL's plan will lead to the establishment of an "email tax."

AOL plans to launch the system, run by Goodmail, through which advertisers and other senders would pay a fee to guarantee their messages will successfully reach AOL subscribers and certify hat the message is no spam. This move is part of AOL's unsettled war against phishers and users would be charged approximately from 1/4 to 1 cent per message.( see CDRinfo's previous article for more information). Yahoo is also planning to follow AOL's steps in a few months from now.

However, the system is drawing mounting criticism from an increasing range of organizations, who claim the system will end up blocking legitimate mail from groups which can't afford to pay AOL's delivery fee.

Political action group MoveOn.org has mounted a campaign against AOL's "email tax".It is not calling for a boycott of AOL yet, but it is considering it as a possibility.

The Move On has launched petition that is protesting against the pay-per-message deliver plan, and listing supporters as the AFL-CIO, computer book publisher Tim O'Reilly, the United Farm Workers, Oxfam America, the Consumer Federation of America, and the Gun Owners of America.

Some advertisers and businesses who use email to communicate with their customers argue the service would help users discriminate between legitimate communications and fraudulent messages like phishing schemes. For its part, AOL contends nothing will change for mailers who do not buy into the new system: their mail will be subject to spam and junk mail filtering like usual.

However, some senders think AOL's new system may further irritate AOL users. AOL might grapple with the certification issue as of auditing the email practices of the organizations interested in using the new system. Goodmail has published some criterias to be ,including fee structures, policy requirements, with enforcement largely by reputation.

By "certifying" email, AOL is in no way saying the sender follows ethical email practices, but merely that the sender was accredited by Goodmail.


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