Example: [Collected via e-mail, 2006]
Dear AOL user,
The very existence of online organizing and the free Internet as we know it are under attack by America Online. We need to fight back quickly.
AOL just announced what amounts to an "email tax." AOL would sell access to your inbox to giant corporations
Can you sign this emergency petition to America Online and forward it to your friends-especially those who use AOL or care about keeping the Internet free?
Petition statement: "AOL, don't auction off access to my inbox to giant corporations, while leaving my friends, family, and favorite causes wondering if their emails to me are being delivered at all. The right way to deal with spam is to put more control in the hands of users and to keep email free."
AOL is not used to massive citizen outrage. When thousands of AOL users sign a petition, AOL will begin to understand they face a huge customer rebellion. Everyone who signs this petition will be sent information on how to contact AOL directly as well as future steps that can be taken until AOL drops its new policy.
The big loser would be customers
Another loser would be democracy on the Internet
Under AOL's proposed pay-to-send system, online organizing all across the political spectrum will suffer. Issue groups, charities, and other non-profits with large email lists will have to pay thousands of dollars for every email message sent. And AOL would get two paydays: one when you pay for your account and another when you're emailed by companies that bought priority access to your inbox.
Can you sign this emergency petition to America Online and forward it to your AOL friends?
Origins: Many Americans hold the fatalistic view that we cannot long enjoy anything that is useful and inexpensive before the "inexpensive" factor is removed through big business' raising its price and/or the government's taxing it. The fear that such will be the fate of
The announcement in February 2006 that two large
As described by the New York Times, the proposed scheme would work this way:
AOL and Yahoo will still accept e-mail from senders who have not paid, but the paid messages will be given special treatment. On AOL, for example, they will go straight to users' main mailboxes, and will not have to pass the gantlet of spam filters that could divert them to a junk-mail folder or strip them of images and Web links. As is the case now, mail arriving from addresses that users have added to their AOL address books will not be treated as spam
- Referring to the proposed system as one which will implement an
"e-mail tax"is inaccurate and misleading. No one is proposing that end users — ordinaryAOL and Yahoo subscribers — becharged for sending or receiving e-mail. AOL and Yahoo are proposing to assess a cost-of-business surcharge to companies who want to ensure their commercial messages reach the inboxes of AOL and Yahoo subscribers instead of being diverted to trash folders by filters already in place to trap unsolicited commercial e-mail (better known as "spam").
- E-mail senders who opt not to pay the surcharge will not be prevented from sending messages to AOL and Yahoo subscribers. Their messages will simply continue to pass through the same spam filters both AOL and Yahoo have had in place for years.
- The notion that non-commercial or non-profit on-line groups will be priced out of existence by being required to "pay thousands of dollars for every email message sent" is unfounded. Nobody is proposing that such groups' messages be blocked, or that they be handled any differently that they are now. Yes, such messages will have to get past spam filters before they're delivered, but that's already the case, and it has been for a long time.
- As for fears that the initiative will result in the release of torrents of spam from paying senders into the mailboxes of AOL and Yahoo
We have on occasion had problems with some e-mail providers (including AOL) mistakenly flagging our newsletters as spam and blocking them entirely; usually a single
Some critics maintain that legitimate messages from non-surcharge-paying companies with whom subscribers already do business (such as order confirmations or notifications of special deals) could get flagged as spam and sent to trash folders, especially since subscribers can't necessarily anticipate the return addresses such messages will be sent from in order to authorize them in advance
Much of the outrage expressed towards the proposed AOL/Yahoo surcharge system is based on the assumption that once it is implemented more and more
Last updated: 23 February 2006
Hansell, Saul. "Postage Due, with Special Delivery, for Companies Sending E-Mail to AOL and Yahoo." The New York Times. 5 February 2006 (p. A25). Swartz, Jon. "Marketers Bristle at Certified E-Mail." USA Today. 6 February 2006 (p. B1).