AOL implements email tax

Well maybe that’s finally going to put these idiots at AOL out of business. AOL announced in January that they started giving preference to email senders who subscribe to the pay-per-email Goodmail service. So if you pay up, you can spam the hell out of AOL users.

As part of its e-mail security practices, AOL blocks the display of images and hyperlinks on most high-volume messages, except if senders are on the AOL Enhanced whitelist and maintain very low complaint rates. Beginning today, AOL will also allow senders who have undergone accreditation through Goodmail to display images and hyperlinks by default. Goodmail charges accredited companies a fraction of a cent per message sent.
AOL to Implement E-mail Certification Program. ClickZ News, January 30, 2006

Brilliant. That’ll just increase the incentive for people who want control over their inbox to sign up with a hosting provider, where you can get your own email server for something like $10/year with unlimited accounts. You don’t get a Gig of space with that, but if you get your own domain you also get a lot less spam and don’t need that much space.

The EEF is up in arms over this and they make a very good point:

Email being basically free isn’t a bug. It’s a feature that has driven the digital revolution. It allows groups to scale up from a dozen friends to a hundred people who love knitting to half-a-million concerned citizens without a major bankroll.

Email readers and senders will both lose, because the incentives for Yahoo, AOL, and Goodmail are all wrong. Their service is only valuable if it “saves” you from their spam filters. In turn, they have an incentive to treat more of your email as spam, thereby encouraging people to sign up.
AOL, Yahoo and Goodmail: Taxing Your Email for Fun and Profit, Deep Links, EEF, February 08, 2006

Now MoveOn has started a campaign to get AOL to back down. I say let’s see if this is not going to just put AOL out of business, because people are going to see all this AOL-sanctioned spam in their inbox. If that’s not going to make people think about finding a different email service, what will?

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