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Opposition to AOL's 'Email Tax' Growing 164

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the i'm-still-undecided dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Register is reporting that opposition to AOL's proposed 'Email Tax' that would create a two tier email filtering system is growing. DearAOL.com, representing such organisations as the EFF and Craigslist, has written an open letter to AOL asking them to reconsider. "
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Opposition to AOL's 'Email Tax' Growing

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  • Certified Spam (Score:1, Insightful)

    by ExE122 (954104) *

    This system would create a two-tiered Internet in which affluent mass emailers could pay AOL a fee that amounts to an "email tax" for every email sent, in return for a guarantee that such messages would bypass spam filters and go directly to AOL members' inboxes

    So this wouldn't stop spam, it would just help AOL profit off of it. Companies that do spam will be weighing out their average gains against the cost of sending mass emails, and I'm sure many will decide it's worth it. I'm sure they would be thr

    • So what if AOL profits off of reducing my spam load?

      Sure this wouldn't stop real companies with real mailing addresses and real marketing budgets from spamming us. It would stop the zombies.

      What % of our spam is "reputable" companies trying to shill us stuff and what part is zombie networks shilling h/e/r/b/i/a/l v/i/a/g/r/a? I would guess something like 85% total crap and 15% junk mail. If my spam volume went down by 85%, I wouldn't mind.

      Moveon.org and the rest complain because now a mass mailing of 1 m
      • But a good filter can do the work. Without giving a back door for companies that have money. I use spam assassin, and It probably catches > 95% of the spam, and in about a year and a half, have only had it block 3 or 4 messages that weren't spam. I get a lot of news letters and emails from companies that I want to get like Nintendo, and all that gets through.
        • Problem is the more spam you stop, the higher chance you have of getting false positives.

          I've seen many systems stop a large percentage of spam that also have a low rate of false positives. However a low rate is not good enough. One false positive is enough for me to worry about missing an important email.
      • I have to agree. This appears to be a good thing. Reputable companies will now have a cost associated with mass e-mail. The zombie spam networks would continue to be blocked by the filter. This now puts real costs with e-mail advertising and further limits what non-reputable companies can do.
      • Re:Certified Spam (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Albanach (527650)

        So what if AOL profits off of reducing my spam load?

        So you don't care, even if it means legitimate emails don't get through?

        What this means is AOL can look for any large volume of nearly identical messages and move them straight to the spam bucket. That means not-for-profit mailing lists. Think the linux kernel mailing list, mysql-users and hundreds or thousands of other lists, large and small.

        Sure, spam volume for AOL users will decrease dramatically, but at what cost?

        There are lots of very effective a

        • Think the linux kernel mailing list, mysql-users and hundreds or thousands of other lists, large and small.

          Yeah, im sure lots of people who uses AOL as their ISP subscribe to LKML and database lists.... :)
          • Yeah, pretend to be funny, when you know perfectly well that any church, non-profit organization, industry trade group or association, special-interest group, support group, watch group, hobby, OOS project, fan club, political action group, or sport has tons of dedicated or special interest mailing lists.

            I guess AOL folk don't belong to any of those either...

      • So what if AOL profits off of reducing my spam load?

        How would this reduce ads for V|aGRa and "st0ck updates"? If these break through spam filers already, then they will still break through the spam filter now. And if the spam filter blocked them before, it will still block them now. As far as I can tell all this does is let paying companies bypass the spam filter. This only means more spam in the inbox, not less. Their spam filter will not suddenly become stronger, and it won't suddenly put fear into

      • As I understand it this isn't a true whitelist scheme -- you will still be relying on AOL's shoddy spam filters
        The reason they are supposedly charging now to get direct access through the spam blocker (which is BS anyway..any company which is mass mailing is a spammer, zombie or not, and ought to be stopped) is to help keep the spam lists up to date. So the argument is "oh woe, we don't make enough money to keep one of our primary services up to date".
        Fucking bullshit, man. So what if AOL profits? They'r
      • moveon.org has a bad reputation in the antispam community. They don't process unsubscription requests or bounce messages reliably. They have no one but themselves to blame for this situation. Even if they were to pay Goodmail Systems to send to AOL, complaints would just get them banned from Goodmail Systems. If you send bulk emails, you MUST respect unsubscribes and bounces, or you WILL get banned. RFCs aren't just *Requests* For Comments. They're more like demands.

      • Why does AOL have to charge a fee at all? Can't they set up some kind of certification system where a business can legitimize themselves with AOL and get off of their blacklist for a certain time period. After that expires, they have to recertify with them.

        I don't think a lot of companies will buy into it either. I don't have any statistics, but there are millions of e-mail addresses that don't have @aol.com on them. I'm also sure aol users probably have other address at yahoo and hotmail where they can
        • Why does AOL have to charge a fee at all?

          Why do you have to charge a fee for the services you provide?

          Can't they set up some kind of certification system...[?]

          Last time I checked, "setting up" and "systems" involves time, effort, and material resources; i.e., it costs money. Sounds like a job for Fee-Charging Guy to me.

          This just looks like a way for AOL to make $$$.

          It's not "just" a way to make money. It's a way to make money by investing some of your resources to provide a service people want at a price t
    • by Billosaur (927319) *
      So this wouldn't stop spam, it would just help AOL profit off of it. Companies that do spam will be weighing out their average gains against the cost of sending mass emails, and I'm sure many will decide it's worth it. I'm sure they would be thrilled to know that their emails can bypass spam filters for a few dollars. Meanwhile, charity groups, e-zines, and other legitimate free mailing lists that people sign up for will be screwed. It looks to me that AOL is taking the "if you can't beat them, join them" a
    • Re:Certified Spam (Score:2, Insightful)

      by rainbowfyre (175300)

      Companies that do spam will be weighing out their average gains against the cost of sending mass emails, and I'm sure many will decide it's worth it. I'm sure they would be thrilled to know that their emails can bypass spam filters for a few dollars

      But this will take out a huge chunk of spammers. The reason spam is an effective business model is because it is so very cheap. A big spam campaign can reach a million people. If ISPs charged just 1 cent per email, that campaign goes from within epsilon of

      • How will allowing people to pay to avoid spam filters reduce spam? The spam filters won't change, all this does is gives AOL an incentive to up the false-positive rate of their spam filters.
      • It won't completely eliminate spam, but it will knock-out the extremely low-response rate "c1a l1z" emails.

        How? Maybe I'm missing something, but it looks to me as if any spam that can get through their filters now will continue to get through -- in addition to the mailings from companies that pay the fee to get their mail passed on through.

      • Isn't this just making senders pay postage costs? We don't object to that in the real world -- why the outrage now?

        Computers are logical, humans are not. A majority of humans logic abilities and intelligence halves in front of a computer. (The same goes with mobile phones I guess).

        Would anybody drive a car if it crashed as often as a computer? A calculator? A TV? Nope.

        Try explaining email forwarding to someone who has moved and filed a change of address and never got their mail, but they don't trust or
    • Re:Certified Spam (Score:3, Informative)

      by SCHecklerX (229973)
      Not only that, but it will make providing legitimate mailing lists that happen to have a lot of AOL users on them impossible. I have enough problems with AOL's braindead mail server configurations as it is. Now they want me to also pay them for the privilege to deal with their incompetence??? (I run a small ~250 user mail list *FREE OF CHARGE* for my cycling team, many of whom are AOL users).
      • Maybe it's time to simply tell your subscribers that AOL is blocking your mailing list and that you can no longer jump through AOL's hoops. Your subscribers that use AOL have 2 options, either dump AOL or get an account with an e-mail provider.
    • Re:Certified Spam (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DistantShadow (901883)
      I think I'd be happy if my ISP implemented this so-called "email tax", provided that it was applied directly to lowering my bill. I pay $50 a month - which is about average for cable broadband in the US (in my experience). Anything that lowers my cost is welcome. Plus, I have *never* used my ISP provided email address, so I'd never see a single piece of certified spam from this endeavor. I don't see a downside.

      Now if my ISP were to use this money for purposes other than lowering my bill - or perhaps inc
      • Well, if they directly pushed the money they made from the spammers paying for email to get through ($0.01 per mail lets say) back to the customers, you would just have to recieve 5000 junk emails a month to pay for your internet connection!
    • AOL may have implmented it slightly wrong but charging a postage stamp for e-mail is exactly what need to be done. We need some form of micro payment system for sending e-mail. One concept here is that the payment is only collected if the recipient marks the mail as spam, otherwise it's refunded.

      The idea of charging for a resource you have already paid for in other ways or is otherwise free is an almost universally accepted concept in ecomonics as the best way, on a large scale, to avoid the trajedy of th
      • AOL may have implmented it slightly wrong but charging a postage stamp for e-mail is exactly what need to be done. We need some form of micro payment system for sending e-mail. One concept here is that the payment is only collected if the recipient marks the mail as spam, otherwise it's refunded.

        What do we do when someone signs up for several mailing lists and maliciously marks it as spam? There's going to be a lot of overhead involved in handling those sorts of situations.

  • So I take it that the attitude "look, the idiots signed up for AOL; they deserve all the spam/blocking/insults they get" is no longer in vogue?

    Pity.
    • Sure, hen it comes to your typical /. geek that only uses the net for surfing, downloading source, etc.

      For those of us that run services on the net however; no matter our opnion of AOL users they do represent a large slice of internet users. Regaurdless of how dumb we may precieve them to be thier money is still green. If an AOL user uses my site/service and part of that service offering includes e-mail updates the AOL user excpets those updates to work. If the person providing the service does not pay the
  • I suppose that it is nice that these people are looking out for AOL user's best interest, but I doubt it will have any significant impact. It is obvious from their shrinking membership that AOL doesn't have a clue as to what their users want. I don't have anything against AOL, but I also don't see what they are offering to make their service any better than other, much cheaper services. Additional SPAM for their customers doesn't make things any better. I'm convinced that AOL is trying to kill itself.
    • by Jerrry (43027)
      If AOL goes through with this, I'll just scrub all AOL email addresses from my mailing lists. If AOL subscribers complain, I'll tell them to complain to AOL, not me. I'll also tell them if they want back on the list(s), switch to a provider with a clue.
  • "... representing such organisations as the EFF and Craigslist... "

    ...and Moveon.org and the Gun Owners of America, and Civic Action, and the Cancer Online Resources etc...

    In total this coalition has more than 15 million people in it according to USA Today.
    BTW, AOL just announced that it is going to be raising its general monthly fee as well. Either they will drop this e-mail tax crap or they will lose those idiots who are still subscribed to their "internet" service
  • A pay-to-send system won't help the fight against spam - in fact, this plan assumes that spam will continue and that mass mailers will be willing to pay to have their emails bypass spam filters. And non-paying spammers will not reduce the amount of mail they throw at your filters simply because others pay to evade them.

    Captain! Abandon ship, the spam is coming in droves and cannot be stopped!
    Yahoo! Here we goooo...
  • by cryfreedomlove (929828) on Wednesday March 01, 2006 @10:29AM (#14826115)
    Who cares what AOL does anymore?

    I'm sure that for most companies, the proportion of their customers who have aol.com email addresses is dropping each year. As long as this idea does not catch hold in the growing domains like hotmail and gmail then we can just laugh as AOL gets more and more desparate to find a new angle for growth. This is not that angle.
    • I am half owner/operator of www.GM-Diesel.com We have a forum for people interested in GM's line of diesel trucks.

      Out of 8,150 total users 1,007 have AOL e-mail addresses.
      That is almost 12.5% !!!!

      I don't think that people like me can just simply "ignore" 12.5% of our user base!

      When that number drops below 5% it might be possible. Until then (and I believe it is well on it's way) we all have to deal with it.
  • for each piece of mail that leaves their system to us?
  • How does AOL expect to regain market share by publicly announcing that they will let outside companies (for a small fee of course) flood AOL inboxes with spam? Didn't they JUST run an ad-campaign detailing how great their "Anti-everything including spam" software was?

    Seriously, who do they have in charge over there? Is he drunk or something?

    • Like the whole "We're no longer going to sell ADSL connections, instead we'll sell "AOL for Broadband" a monthly subscription service you buy on top of net access.

      I though thte onl;y reason anyone signed up in the first place was because they knew it was an easy way to get online?

      AOL really are trying their damnedest to screw themselves over by the looks of things.
    • Do you really think the sheep that sign up for AOL would keep on top of news like this?
  • AOL have several good reasons to introduce the 'E-mail' tax and very few not to. The reasons for are

    1. Increased profits
    2. The can say to 'mom and pop' users, their biggest user base, that they're trying to do something about spam.
    3. Increased profits
    The reasons against are
    1. They might piss off some people they don't care about
    2. Er....
    I don't see this as the most difficult decision they're going to make.
  • ... Somewhere ...

    Based on the antics of megacorps like AOL and Bell South. It goes like this:

    1. Invest large amounts of $$$ into dark fiber to create independent network.
    2. Advertise your service as: the last truly free (as in speech) Internet.
    (no DRM, no censorship, no [bittorrent|skype|other] filtering, no stupid ideas... EVER!)
    3. ???
    4. Profit!

    I believe step 3 has something to do with advertising on Slashdot, but I am not sure.

    Step 2 could also be named: "We have common carrier status and we want to keep
    • 1. Invest large amounts of $$$ into dark fiber to create independent network.
      2. Advertise your service as: the last truly free (as in speech) Internet. (no DRM, no censorship, no [bittorrent|skype|other] filtering, no stupid ideas... EVER!)
      3. ???
      4. Profit!

      I believe step 3 has something to do with advertising on Slashdot, but I am not sure.

      * ring ring. ring ring. *

      Hey, Sergey? Yeah, hi. It's me, Larry. Got an idea for you. Yeah. All that dark fibre. Yeah. And that crap Bellsouth's been trying on lat

  • AFAICS this wouldn't be an issue for 'legitimate' mailers anyway - Their emails probably aren't designed to circumvent anti-spam filters in AOL no more than they are in any other ISPs mail servers. This means that the only emails affected are the ones AOL know are bypassing the filters... so call me old fasioned, but if you know they are bypassing the filters you know the emails exist, ergo you can update your filters. I wonder how AOL plan to identify legitimate personal emails from mailing list emails o.O
    • Perhaps, perhaps not: AOL is simply stating that bulk marketers can pay to ensure their mail gets delivered. That mail may be Viagra, or whatever - but if you pay it will go through. AOL will still filter out all the similar junk from people who don't pay.

      The trouble is that many people with small mailing lists find that if one of their recipients (or perhaps competitors) complains - then AOL marks them as spam. I send out a newsletter on the second wednesday of every month telling clients to verify the
    • 'legitimate' mailers anyway - Their emails probably aren't designed to circumvent anti-spam filters

      The last time this story was mentioned I checked out the details. Unapproved mail, even if not marked spam, will be delivered, but HTML links, to images say, will be inoperative. The spammers who pay will have their mail delivered in all their multimedia glory.

      • Wouldn't the practice of making links etc inactive have to be applied across the board to all emails recieved unless they are in the premium spammers whitelist. Of course this would mean any normal person-to-person email would also have their links stripped.

        If however AOL are going to use some kind of filter to decided if its spam or otherwise why not just block the spam there and then.

        This also leads on to the thought, if spammers are paying AOL to let spam through which is what effectively they would be
    • Argh. People are being annoyingly stupid about this. More stupid than usual, actually. Here is the problem: people who are sending *desired* *opt-in* email have to bear the cost of constructing their emails so they don't look like spam and don't get caught in AOL's filters. AOL, on the other hand, doesn't benefit from these emails particularly and has no strong incentive to cooperate with senders of legitimate email. It's just another cost to them. If, however, the sender can indicate that their email
      • Sheesh. You're being annoyingly closed minded. Mailers other than opt-in commercial shops also get caught in AOL's spam traps. I run a fairly large (25,000+ users) mail server, and AOL decides on an almost daily basis that it is too good to recieve our mail. We are part of a much larger community (70,000+ users) that has an open dialogue with AOL to ensure that our mail gets through. Even though we have open communication with AOL, they still choose to block our mail, even though it is not spam. If AO
    • little bespoke message board thing. When a user signs up it sends them a single email, with a URL they can click to validate their email address.
      These suddenly started to bounce back from AOL. I went through hell trying to convince them to remove me from their spam filter - I really didn't consider one email sent it reponse to a 'click for email validation' button to make me a spammer - but AOL did (quick check showed over 2 years I'd sent about 150 emails to 150 unique AOL accounts).
      I guess I could pay t
  • by ch-chuck (9622)
    now the dufus' computer in the next cube is going to start saying, "You've got premium mail!"

  • I can see where AO-hizzy is coming from, but here's why: Like most of you here (that actually work), you probably do something regarding the Internet. The company I work for provides network access for Wholesale Dialup ISPs. It costs money (you know...economic energy...believe it or not) to pay for bandwidth that spammers waste sending their emails that for some ungodly reason, morons still open and click the links in them. It costs money to pay for the software filters that are in place to remove unwa
    • AOL is trying to cover the costs of bandwidth waste...

      No. In this particular case, AOL is trying to cover the costs of creating and maintaining the infrastructure which treats some emails specially. If you go to AOL and say "Hey, I want to be able to bypass your spam filters and save you bandwidth by running a server at your colocation" they'll laugh in your face. If, on the other hand, you say the same thing and add "Oh, and I'll pay you for each email AND I'll pre-vet senders AND monitor spam complaint
      • True, true. However, I do not think this would be an issue if it wasn't for spammers in the first place. I'm not saying that I think that the "Email Tax" is the right way to go about it, I just know first hand that things like bandwidth, server hardware, spam filter software, etc. costs money and (believe what you want) but I think this is how they are going to cover the costs. Is that the only motivation for the tax? Probably not. But these things cost money, and being the self proclaimed expert on this, I
  • This is all about AOL attempting to profit more from their subscriber base. When people start to wake up to the fact that they are paying AOL only to be exploited by AOL, they will probably reconsider their subscription... I know I would.
    • When people start to wake up to the fact that they are paying AOL only to be exploited by AOL, they will probably reconsider their subscription...

      If AOL users were the type to do that, they'd have done so already. This will succeed. I know too many AOL users.

  • Countermeasures (Score:3, Insightful)

    by G4from128k (686170) on Wednesday March 01, 2006 @10:51AM (#14826273)
    1. Publish AOL's tech support numbers -- tell AOL users to call to complain (should cost AOL at least $5 a call)
    2. Charge AOL members to join emailed lists
    3. Stop accepting AOL addresses as legitimate email addresses
    • You are assuming that AOL will be allowing spam-for-pay. Your assumption is incorrect. This is instead one company (Goodmail Systems) asserting to AOL "This email is good. As evidence I have charged the sender, and as evidence I am paying you per email a fee sufficient to cover your cost for verifying my evidence."

      Disclaimer: I have consulted for Goodmail Systems, and have PROFITED from their EVIL plan to TAKE OVER the world, Pinky!
  • This is one way AOL will finally wither and die. When people start realizing that it will cost more to send/receive emails to users on AOL, they will finally stop accessing those accounts for email thereby reducing the number of subscribers. Sure, it will take a while for this to actually happen, but don't give up hope.
  • If you don't want to pay the "tax", don't! And then see what penalty you have to pay. The penalty is that your email has to be filtered for spam -- which is exactly what is happening now. So why is the "tax" a bad thing?
    -russ
    • by tessaiga (697968) on Wednesday March 01, 2006 @11:23AM (#14826476)
      Because AOL will now be able to lower the threshold for spam flagging and increase their false positive rate. Services like electronic bank statements are going to be among the first to be adversely affected, forcing banks and the like to pay the "tax" you mention to continue to offer these services. After all, when Joe Sixpack's electronic statements stop showing up in his inbox, who do you think he's going to call up, AOL or his bank? AOL is counting on it simply being cheaper for companies to cough up money for their fees than to pay for additional customer service reps to educate each caller on the real source of the problem.

      Yahoo is already trying to make this tax explicit [cnn.com]:

      Another major provider, Sunnyvale, California-based Yahoo Inc., in the coming months will test an optional certified e-mail program based on "transactional" messages only, such as bank statements and purchase receipts, Yahoo spokeswoman Karen Mahon said.
  • It's not like AOL already doesn't block access to things on the Internet they deem unacceptable. Even things that are completely legal in all sense of the word, they decide to block. You just get a "Page could not be displayed".

    I run a double opt-in mailing list (they sign up, they receive confirmation, they confirm, THEN they get email) for Classic (75-79) Honda Goldwings. We have AOL members on the list, and we will NOT pay any kind of tax. We'll just tell the users (before AOL goes to this "Tax") tha
  • boo hoo. non-profit people having to pay to send out messages?? cry me a river.

    Who ever said that a form of communication was free, either in people's effort expended to send/receive the messages, or the cost of hardware to carry the messages? We all pay right now (implicitly) for the cost of keeping massive amounts of storage around for all this junk we get every day. If someone can come up with a workable system to tack 0.1 cent on every message that causes people (and spammers) to more carefully
  • TANSTAAFL! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by blueZhift (652272) on Wednesday March 01, 2006 @11:26AM (#14826498) Homepage Journal
    Sorry to rain on the parade, but there ain't no such thing as a free lunch. I'm sorry that AOL's (and others) plans to impose email charges on bulk mailers is going to raise the costs of some respectable charities and other nonprofits. But, the last time I bothered to check, sending bulk mail via the postal service was not free. So why should sending bulk mail over the internet be any different?

    We've all become spoiled with free email on the internet, but when you think about it, there's no more right to free email than there is to free postal service. And as we have all seen, free email is probably the primary culprit in the rise of spam and many of its associated ills. So it is likely that anything that imposes additional costs on spamming will have some reducing effect on the overall volume of email. No, it won't kill all spam, but it will likely be enough of a barrier to some portion of small time operators and n00b phishers. And the bulk mail that one does get will have a greater probability of being from a legitimate source.

    Free email isn't likely to disappear anytime soon. It is still a good marketing tool for those that provide it and a gateway to their other premium services. But I hope that the days of being able to send thousands and thousands of emails at no cost are coming to an end.
    • But, the last time I bothered to check, sending bulk mail via the postal service was not free. So why should sending bulk mail over the internet be any different?

      It isn't. This is why I am paying a monthly subscription fee to my ISP.
    • Why do people think that because they pay their ISP to store email messages that they have already covered the cost of sending email?

      The recipient must pay the cost to receive/store them. If a spammer sends you 1000 10MB messages in one day, should your ISP charge you to keep these on their server? Right now you have no way to prevent someone from sending you massive amounts of useless email. If ISP's started to assess fines for any accounts that exceeded a maximum bandwidth/data transfer, then users would
    • What the hell are you taking about? Do you even understand what AOL is proposing? They are proposing to PROVIDE SPAMMERS WITH A SERVICE, that service is ALLOWING them to bypass their spam filters and spam their customers if they pay a fee. They are effectively selling another form of advertising to inflict on their customers.

      Of course, it won't work because spammers won't pay AOL a dime. Why should they? If they wanted to PAY for advertising they'd use conventional web ads, they're using spam because it's C

  • This can be looked at by turning the tables against AOL.

    When SBC wanted to charge Google for "using their bandwidth for free", I always thought Google's response could have been, "If your ISP is throttling the connection you're paying for, here's a list of ISPs that give you what you're paying for."

    I wonder if this can be turned around on AOL by saying if you sign-up for their service, they won't let our emails through. If this is not okay with you, here's a list of service providers that provide you
    • Unfortunately, looking at the cause and effect in that way is problematic. You can say all you want that SBC or AOL is at fault and try to get end users to switch, but many people may not even notice. All they will start seeing is Google's site performance is slower now. I think it's actually a tossup whether they blame their provider or Google, particularly if they don't understand what is going on.

      A serious slow down to Google could ruin it particularly if they use the strategy I expect them to. SBC o
  • "There is no substantive news here, just because some disparate groups of advocates have come together for an event reminiscent of the bar scene in the first 'Star Wars' movie." -- AOL spokesman Nicholas Graham

    (article at http://www.cnn.com/2006/TECH/internet/02/28/email. rebellion.ap/index.html [cnn.com])

  • It's really quite simple for me

    Blacklist all of AOL - you cut US off, we cut YOU off

    No problem - I've looked through my address book, and there is very little traffic I want from AOL anyway
  • ...Spammers find a way to charge AOL user accounts for the spam they will undoubtedly send.

  • Spam sucks. The amount of spam I need to filter on a daily basis for my not-so-well-known domains is huge (40-50% of all incoming email). I make it manageable with the use of greylisting, realtime black lists, enforcement of correct smtp handshakes, content filters, virus filters, yada yada yada.

    Fortunately a lot of this gets axed with the greylisting and rbl's so I am not having to accept the full message (bandwidth + cpu processing). Even trying to be conservative, there are false positives as well as spa
  • AOL obstensibly became spam crusaders when it cut into their bottom line. What was the #1 thing their users complained about two years ago? First most, pop-up and banner ads on AOL's sign-in screens--and secondly, the volume of spam had increased exponentially over the years. This poll was taken because the amount of customers leaving AOL were significant and measurable.

    If these problem return customers will simply move to alternate providers. That's how it works. The service provider field is already
  • I don't see what the big deal is. At this point my feelings about AOL subscribers are about the same as my feelings about people who voted for George W. Bush twice. I respect their intrinsic value as human beings, but I can no longer take them seriously as members of society. So who gives a rats ass about what they do or do not receive? Get a better inbox, get a better ISP while you're at it. In other words - in my book AOL subscribers already exist in a lower tier of the already divided internet, and
  • LET THEM!!1! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by rahyl (698660)
    If AOL wants to make a mistake like this, why not just let them? Will it piss off their users when spam starts flowing again? Of course it will! People will leave, case dismissed. Why on earth would the EFF (or anyone else for that matter) want to stop AOL from losing customers?

    "Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake."
    - Napoleon Bonaparte

  • Meh, it'll just make AOHell users sign up for gmail/hotmail/yahoo/whatever accounts instead.

    No one wants to pay for something when they can have it for free.
  • Remmber Bonded Spammer [bondedsender.com]?, Ironport's attempt to do this? They sold that business off to ReturnPath, and it's still around, but not used much.

    I divert Bonded Spammer mail to a separate folder. Let's see what's in there:

    • Spam from "alt.com", part of the Friendfinder spam network. Friendfinder had for a while the distinction of having the same IP address in both the SpamCop block list and the Bonded Sender allow list, both run by Ironport.
    • Spam from Movies Unlimited Video, but only one, and I did buy so
  • When one thinks about, the bulk email tax AOL is proposing isn't such a bad thing. Yes, it won't eliminate the spam from companies paying for it, but at least it will reduce the viagra and refinance spams. And the paid-for spam can always be eliminated by the regular spam filters.

    In the end, for the average user the spam level is probably reduced and companies stupid enough to pay AOL for the right to spam will have less money left to spend it on other annoying schemes.

    The only bitter aftertaste left is, th
  • by WhiteWolf666 (145211) <{sherwin} {at} {amiran.us}> on Wednesday March 01, 2006 @02:50PM (#14828900) Homepage Journal
    AOL can do whatever it wants. Just ignore it.

    The better response is to make it absolutely, brilliantly clear that your service doesn't support AOL.

    Stick a "Doesn't support AOL" banner on your website, put up a link saying, "AOL's mailservers no longer support the advanced technology used by the rest of the industry. Please upgrade to MSN, Yahoo, Gmail, or any of the other, reliable free e-mail providers out there. If you have any questions or concerns please direct them to or ."

    Better yet, some one like hotmail or gmail should hop on this train and start a "switch from AOL campaign." What better way to grab users then to scare them off using _valid_ scare tactics?

    We don't do business with any AOL users (just checked). The only AOL e-mail I have to deal with is one of our co-worker's private accounts. If he can no longer receive company e-mails, I'll laugh at him.

    Hell, even if you do have a billion AOL customers, subscribe to this service for the SHORT-TERM only. Send each and everyone of your customers a nastygram every 2 weeks indicating that you are dropping AOL support, because their "outdated e-mail technology is no longer compatible with the rest of the web." Most people using AOL have had it forever; it won't take much to convince them AOL is ancient. Advise them to switch to an "up and coming" service like Gmail, and they'll switch, at least for your business related e-mails.

    A wide variety of companies used to do this with all kinds of services. Internet Explorer, Active X, even AOL and internet access (back when AOL offered nothing but proxys). The key is not where the blame actually lies (AOL's supposed fight with spam), but to instead portray AOL as a white elephant that is no longer keeping up with the times.
  • Remember the uproar about explicit lyrics in rap music. Someone (we won't name names) decided that all music that had explicit music had to have a big label on it saying that there was explicit lyrics. The intent was that parents could monitor what their kid's music. The actuality is that most parents don't monitor as closely as you think. All the label did was to alert kids to which albums had explicit lyrics.

    Now this situation. The intent may have been to limit spam, but it seems to encourage it mor

  • Manufacturers of radios and televisions are seeking to charge radio stations and television stations a fee to allow their signals to bypass the channel tuner and arrive as audio or video signals on the devices. When asked for a quote, manufacturer representatives responded "The manufacture and distributuion of radios and televisions is not free ... someone has to pay for it."

    When asked their opinion on the matter, several radio and television owners were baffled that this was even an issue. Said citizen
  • So AOL wants to sell their addresses to spamers who will then pay them to send AOL customers special offers that bypass the spam filters. Then AOL gives the message a special symbol to show its legit. This means that every message with the extra symbol is spam so it can be ignored.
  • Why can't they just send a nice little letter to their subscribers at AOL, saying that due to company policy users with AOL accounts will have to change their email, as they will stop trying to send their newsletters to AOL? And add a check in subscription form that will politely inform user why her/his AOL account is not good for receiving mail...
  • The complaints about this are largely based on strawmen and misrepresentations. I love the EFF's work in other fields, but they have a long track record of showing no clue at all about spam and spam-related questions.

    I've read the specs, I've talked to the people, and I do not believe the hype; this is not a "tax on email". It never was.
  • So, the next thing that's going to happen is that AOL will offer tiered email subscription to their customers: for a few extra $$/mo, you can avoid even the certified spam. Then for a few more $$$, companies can send certified spam to the people with premium email... an endless cycle of spam.

    Maybe this will finally alert AOL-users to just what a crock of $#!+ their service really is.

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