Monday, March 13, 2006

AOL's plan to charge for email messages

If you haven't heard or read the news lately, AOL has a plan to charge for 'certified email'. This is essentually the first tax on email. Upon hearing about this solution, I was immediately concerned about about the impact of this proposal on the ability of small organizations like the NCFC to be able to send bulk emails to our members who have an AOL email account.
Here's what I have learned:

"Messages from senders in the paid Goodmail program will be highlighted as "AOL Certified" and will display images and links to Web sites automatically. Messages from most other senders, who do not pay the fee, are delivered in such a way that the recipient cannot immediately see the images or click on the links. Users will always receive messages from senders listed in their address books.

Apparently the fees per email would be in the 1/4 to 1 cent range. This wouldn't be a huge impact the bottom line for an organization like the NCFC, but would be a pain to implement and the time required to setup payment would be out of proportion to the $1.00 that we'd likely spend on email to AOL account owners per year. Anyway, I hope that this turns out to be a non-issue in the big picture. My fear is that this is only the first brick in the wall. While I hate spam as much as the next person, I still fail to see how paying for email resolves the problem. After all, the spammers and advertisers are the ones with the deep pockets.

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