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Technology thoughts leaking from the brain of "Bill Pytlovany"

Friday, February 24, 2006

AOL Email Tax Again?

One of the oldest, widely distributed,  Internet Urban Legends was that the U.S Post Office or America Online was going to start to charge members to send Email or Instant Messages.  It was more popular back when AOL had 80% of the online market and usually ended with the signing of a petition that you should forward on to 10 of your friends.

This old Urban Legend is easily confused with a current plan by America Online and Yahoo to use an Email certification system from GoodmailSystems.  The confusion is inflamed by opposition from a coalition of groups being assembled by our friends at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.  The big difference is consumers won’t be billed if they send or receive Email. The similarity is organizations like MoveOn.org  have a form letters to pass along the news to your friends and RightMarch.com has an easy to use form that will Email six at a time.

In my opinion, this is even more obnoxious than Goodmail’s certification system.  Internet Petitions don’t work, and these guys know it. You’ll find each of these organizations include, donation links on their “tell a friend” page.

I’m still not a fan of Email certification that would allow AOL or Yahoo to charge bulk E-mailers 0.25 cents a message. In theory, anyone receiving Email would have chosen to Opt-In to this program but its still wrong. The expense of bulk Email is paid by the local ISP’s, internal company networks and the consumers who end up spending time weeding out the crap.  It might be OK, if the consumer was paid the 1/4 cent per Email but AOL and Yahoo should not be the ones collecting the toll.

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