Bending the Third Rail
Because We Should, We Can, We Do
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Email Tax
The Corporate Masters are at it again. In another attack on the last remaining frontier, AOL recently announced what amounts to an "email tax." Under this pay-to-send system, large emailers willing to pay an "email tax" can bypass spam filters and get guaranteed access to people's inboxes—with their messages having a preferential high-priority designation.

Charities, small businesses, civic organizing groups, and even families with mailing lists will inevitably be left with inferior Internet service unless they are willing to pay the "email tax" to AOL. We need to stop AOL immediately so other email hosts know that following AOL's lead would be a mistake.
MoveOn has a petition you can sign.
The president of the Association for Cancer Online Resources (ACOR) points out the real-world urgency of this issue:

In essence, this is going to block every AOL subscriber suffering from any form of cancer from receiving potentially life-saving information they may not be able to get from any other source, simply because a non-profit like ACOR—which serves more than 55,000 cancer patients and caregivers every day—cannot afford to pay the fee.

Our society has been deeply segregated into 'haves' and 'have nots'. I would hate to see this trend continue into cyberspace.
Blogger Lynne said...
Jeez, I'm commenting on my own post.
This was in the email I got from MoveOn after signing the petition:

CLAIM: Nothing would change for non-paying email senders. This is just an extra service for paying senders.

FACT: AOL currently has a financial incentive to put top-notch maintenance into their free email system and make sure legitimate emails don't wind up in spam filters. This helps everyone--corporate senders, non-profit senders, and regular senders. The moment AOL switches to a world where giant emailers pay for preferential treatment, AOL faces this internal choice: spend money to keep spam filters up-to-date so legitimate email isn't identified as spam, or make money by neglecting their spam filters and pushing more senders to pay for guaranteed delivery. Despite their denials that things will change for regular email senders, which choice do you think they'll choose?

CLAIM: Charging a fee will help deter spammers.

FACT: AOL hasn't officially made this claim, but they've let it be implied in news articles and it's completely untrue. AOL's "email tax" would not prevent giant senders from sending email, especially since many of these same senders are willing to pay a lot more money to send advertisements through the postal service. AOL's pay-to-send system would actually make it a sweeter deal for them to send masss emails - giving guaranteed delivery to people's inboxes with a preferential high-priority designation. Additionally, those who break the rules and spam recklessly right now have no incentive to reduce spamming because of AOL's proposed policy.

CLAIM: This is not an "email tax."

FACT: If AOL has its way, the only way to guarantee mail is being delivered will be to pay. For email senders, it amounts to an email tax--except the money goes to AOL instead of the government.

CLAIM: This MoveOn email is a hoax, we will not charge email senders.

It most definitely is not a hoax, and the charge to email senders has been publicly announced in the New York Times, the Associated Press, and other media outlets.