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AOL’s decision to charge spam sparks off a debate

Time Warner Inc.'s AOL, the largest US Internet service provider has begun to exact a small fee for
ensuring delivery of certain types of bulk e-mail. The AOL decision came into effect two weeks
back. AOL will be charging a small fraction of a cent per e-mail for its guaranteed delivery.

AOL's decision has sparked off a debate with many people saying that e-mail should move freely so
that people can build and maintain large communities over the Web. Various organizations that
support this view have come together to form a joint coalition called DearAOL.com. The coalition
feels that as an outcome of the new AOL policy the company would end up charging charitable and non
profit organizations much the same way they charge businesses.

AOL refutes this claim and Nicholas Graham the spokesman for AOL says" There will be no
requirement, ever, for not-for-profits who deliver email to AOL members to pay for email
certification and delivery,"

However the raging controversy has prompted California state senator Dean Florez, a Democrat, to
hold a hearing on the AOL fee structure in April. A senate committee plans to monitor the AOL plan
and could possibly take punitive measures against AOL and the vendors if found guilty of causing
delivery problems to non profit organizations.

The challenge before companies like AOL is to combat the threat posed by spam and phishing mails
which con users into revealing their personal identity, passwords and financial information. AOL
feels that charging these bulk e-mails will help prevent spam from clogging the inboxes of their

AOL has been working with a company called Goodmail to offer the certified e-mail service.
According to Graham the AOL spokesman, the new program is doing well and the company expects more
senders to use their service to send important mail.

On the other hand consumer activists are opposed to AOL's new policy. The Association of Cancer
Online Resources which relies heavily on email to communicate with patients has been a strong
supporter of DearAOL.com. The association sends about 1.5 million e-mails to patients all over the

Related article: AOL Yet to Fix Original Critical Flaw Discovered in September 2007

» SPAMfighter News - 6/8/2006

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