Taxing Email (this is legit)

What’s this controversy all about?

     "AOL has proposed the adoption of a system called CertifiedEmail, provided by Goodmail Systems. Under this pay-to-send system, affluent mass-emailers who are willing to pay AOL the equivalent of an "email tax" would get to bypass AOL’s spam filters and get guaranteed delivery to the inboxes of AOL customers.

      Everyone who can’t afford to pay AOL’s "email tax" – including charities, small businesses, civic organizations, and even families with mailing lists – will have no guarantee that their emails will be delivered. If other companies follow AOL in adopting pay-to-send systems, the Internet will become permanently divided into two classes of users – those who can afford to pay for guaranteed delivery and everyone else left behind with unreliable service.

      Though billed in the media as an anti-spam and anti-phishing measure, AOL’s pay-to-send system will fail on both scores.

      AOL’s "email tax" will cause great harm to the free and open Internet that many of us take for granted. The Internet is a revolutionary force for free speech, civic organizing, and economic innovation specifically because it is open and accessible to all Internet users. With a free and open Internet, small ideas can become big ideas overnight. AOL’s move to introduce a pay-to-send system is a danger to this openness, and we urge them to reconsider."

"Will AOL’s "email tax" reduce spam?

No. Despite some erroneous media reports, AOL does not even claim that its pay-to-send proposal will fight spam – because it won’t."


How does the email tax threaten the free and open Internet?

Certified mail is the first step on a dangerous road to ubiquitous pay-to-send email. If adoption of AOL’s plan is strong, then other providers will attempt to create their own new sources of profit by charging for incoming mail, potentially with competing email taxation systems. The cost of communicating online will skyrocket, as intermediaries attempt to skim a fee from every communication. Paying AOL’s ransom means paying to build a taxation system for the Net."

What would be a good spam management system?

Unfortunately, "spam" is "whatever you don’t want to read." No entity or system other than you can decide what email you want to read and what email you don’t want to read. A spam management system that puts decision-making power into the hands of others disempowers you and will inevitably result in decisions with which you don’t agree. Companies like AOL try to stop spam, but because they just cannot know what you want and what you don’t want, they can never be completely successful. The best spam management system allows the individual the greatest decision-making power possible. For more, see EFF’s White Paper about spam.

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