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The decision by AOL and Yahoo to charge a bulk e-mailing fee has not been well received by many

Several public interest groups and nonprofit organizations, including Gun Owners of America, Association of Cancer Online Resources and MoveOn.org, are joining together to battle the decision by America Online and Yahoo to charge a bulk e-mailing fee.  The "certified e-mail" service would attach "tokens" to some e-mails in which senders would have to pay between one-quarter of 1 cent and 1 cent for each message sent.  These e-mails will bypass spam filters and be sent directly into a user's inbox. 

The fee will be a disadvantage to "charities, small businesses and even families with mailing lists that will have no guarantee their e-mail will be delivered," said Adam Green, a spokesman for MoveOn.org Civic Action, the group's nonpolitical arm. "The magic of the Internet is that it is free and open to everybody so small ideas can become big ideas."

AOL users can look forward to these certified e-mails in the next 30 days or so.  It is not currently known when Yahoo will begin offering certified e-mails to its users.

Update 02/28/2006: Since publication of this article, Yahoo! representatives have contacted us with more information.

"Companies can continue to send e-mail to Yahoo! Mail users at no cost in exactly the same way they always have, and we are not planning to require payment to ensure delivery to our users. In the coming months, Yahoo! will test an optional certified e-mail program based on 'transactional' messages only, such as bank statements and purchase receipts, as an additional layer of protection against e-mail identity theft scams known as phishing attacks," said Karen Mahon, Yahoo! spokesperson.


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Drop AOL and Yahoo!
By TomZ on 2/28/2006 9:03:40 AM , Rating: 2
It is total BS that AOL and Yahoo are going to allow spam senders to pay to bypass spam filters.

The most important thing that we all can do is to find new ISPs and cancel AOL and Yahoo accounts.




RE: Drop AOL and Yahoo!
By ROB G on 2/28/2006 9:43:19 AM , Rating: 3
I think most are missing the point...spammers send millions of emails daily...the charge of 5 cents per email is to discourage spammers from sending emails because of the shear cost. As for the charity groups bla bla bla...I gave at the offce and don't need to be bothered in my email...besides do people really read spam and respond...give me a break!! If spammers must pay 5 cent per email then I'll be glad to get the spam and delete it because ultimately they are wasting thier money...it's my way of sticking to the man...hehe


RE: Drop AOL and Yahoo!
By RandomFool on 2/28/2006 10:33:40 AM , Rating: 2
The charge isn't going to stop spammers from sending mail at all. It's just going to allow spammers with money, ie advertisments, to get around the filters and go right into your inbox. Spammers are still going to be able to send emails they'll just have to deal with the filters.

As for charities, some people acually want to get the emails from charities hence they signed up for the news letter so it's not always spam.


RE: Drop AOL and Yahoo!
By masher2 (blog) on 2/28/2006 12:09:51 PM , Rating: 2
One cent per email will most certainly shut down most spammers. At a million emails a day, that'll run them $3.5 million/year. They'll have to switch...either to another mail provider, or to significantly smaller and more targetted mailings (i.e. you're far more likely to actually be interested in what they're mailing you).

As for a charity sending a monthly email to its subscribers...they're not going to see a large charge.


RE: Drop AOL and Yahoo!
By on 2/28/2006 2:21:22 PM , Rating: 2
The base problem with these e-stamp type fees is that he worst spam offenders will simply use their Russian lists of stolen credit cards to "pay" the bypass fee. In this scenario, spam still gets through, AOL gets paid a binus , and the users are victimized by their own ISP.

Anyone dishonest enough to send a million emails per day is also dishonest enough to avoid paying with their own money.

This is why Google's attempt for 'certified' email peers is a far better and fair solution.


RE: Drop AOL and Yahoo!
By dev0lution on 2/28/2006 10:58:41 PM , Rating: 2
Another greedy move by Yahoo. Good thing my old Yahoo account is my junkmail account I use for registering with sites & for promo offers anyway. I suppose I'll just be getting a bit more junk now.

Seriously, as a "free" service I don't really miss the yahoo ads attached to every email or the lack of "free" POP forwarding. Gmail ads are much more unobtrusive and don't turn every email I send into a free corporate advertisement.


RE: Drop AOL and Yahoo!
By ROB G on 2/28/2006 9:45:29 AM , Rating: 2
oops...1 cent...either way its still alot to swallow...no free advertising in my email...


RE: Drop AOL and Yahoo!
By GoatMonkey on 2/28/2006 10:40:33 AM , Rating: 2
Next thing you know, AOL and Yahoo will be charging users to *NOT* get these e-mails that they are getting paid for by someone else. I guess that every company is eventually driven to greed.


No thanks
By kextyn on 2/28/2006 8:26:15 AM , Rating: 3
I don't want to see this happen for one reason. It gives bulk emailers a way of getting crap into my inbox. Currently Yahoo's spam filter works very well and I never receive something I don't want or have something I want end up in bulk email. If this happens all they have to do is pay to get all the spam they want in my inbox.




RE: No thanks
By Chadder007 on 2/28/2006 8:50:31 AM , Rating: 1
Who said they would be getting rid of the SPAM filters too?


RE: No thanks
By Chadder007 on 2/28/2006 8:51:00 AM , Rating: 4
n/m me = pwn3d by reading.


Sellout
By White Widow on 2/28/2006 10:08:17 AM , Rating: 2
This "email tax" implementation will NOT have the effect of reducing spam for AOL and Yahoo users. As was posted above, the spam filters work pretty well aready. Under this new system, bulk-emailers can pay to BYPASS the spam filters to get their emails directly to your inbox. The great virtue of this system is not that it prevents SPAM for the end users, but that it allows AOL and Yahoo to gain financially from spamming. Indeed, for most AOL and Yahoo customers, they will get MORE unwatned email in their inboxes. AOL and Yahoo are simply and wantonly selling direct access to users' inbox. Despicable.


RE: Sellout
By TomZ on 2/28/2006 11:37:52 AM , Rating: 2
The next great idea they'll have is to allow users to pay to not receive spam. Maybe they can even do a bidding war, where the user bids a certain amount to not get spam, any only spammers willing to pay more than than amount can have their e-mails get through. This would be an excellent way for AOL and Yahoo to make more money.


RE: Sellout
By ninjit on 2/28/2006 8:56:24 PM , Rating: 2
lol, I was thinking the exact same thing.

I'm curious, does anyone know what spammers make on average per message they send?

AOL and Yahoo's argument would only then work if they charge more per message than spammers would make.


Jesus Christ, stop your whining...
By masher2 (blog) on 2/28/2006 11:16:56 AM , Rating: 2
These mail servers belong to Yahoo and AOL, not any of you. If you don't like how they administer them, buy your own servers or go with another service. You don't have a constutitional right to demand free email from a private company.




RE: Jesus Christ, stop your whining...
By SNM on 2/28/2006 11:23:27 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, but we do have a right to bitch and whine at them as their customers and source of income.

And we should...since when is it good for companies to stratify the internet?


RE: Jesus Christ, stop your whining...
By masher2 (blog) on 2/28/2006 12:04:27 PM , Rating: 2
In Yahoo's case at least, you're not their customer...their advertisers are their customers and the source of their income-- you're just someone receiving a free service.

And I still fail to see how charging high-volume users of email a small surcharge is going to lead to the ruin of the Internet. Sounds like a pretty fair model to me.


RE: Jesus Christ, stop your whining...
By nomagic on 2/28/2006 1:27:15 PM , Rating: 2
Yet customers we are. Without our using of the "FREE" service, Yahoo wont be receiving any advertisement income. Furthermore, this income is indirectly paid by us because we are the source of income for the advertisers. Therefore, one must understand that we pay Yahoo through the advertisements we receive, and the service is not free.

Charging bulk emailing fee does not ruin the internet. I wonder where you read that. Please quote that for me because I do not find it anywhere.


By masher2 (blog) on 2/28/2006 1:38:55 PM , Rating: 1
> "Without our using of the "FREE" service, Yahoo wont be receiving any advertisement income. "

The point is its a free service, and therefore you have no right to complain about how its provided. If you don't like it, vote with your feet and go elsewhere.

Yahoo and AOL are offering an extra service here. Current spam filters occasionally block legitimate emails. With this service, you can avoid that. End result-- a better user experience both for email sender and recipient. Certainly something worth paying for...and if you disagree, why then don't pay for it! Freedom is a wonderful thing.

> "Charging bulk emailing fee does not ruin the internet. I wonder where you read that"

Moveon.org says the "magic of the Internet" derives from free emails...implying that "magic" will be removed by these fees. And the prior poster claimed this would "stratify the internet", which certainly sounds as if he thinks it will go a long way to ruining it.


Don't fall for P.R. "spin", AOL and Yahoo are wrong.
By MadMax on 2/28/2006 12:47:11 PM , Rating: 2
You know, it's amazing how this is being "spun" by the media. Every headline that I've read reads something along the lines of "AOL charging spammers to send email" rather than "AOL selling users' inbox to spammers".

The two statements above mean the same thing, but which one sounds better to you? Even here, on Anandtech (Daily Tech), two posters are defending AOL and Yahoo.

AOL and Yahoo users need to wise up. Even after these changes, spammers will still be able to send as many bulk emails as they want, to as many users as they want, for free. That's right, FREE, just like they always have. Most of those emails will be filtered out, so your inbox remains relatively untouched.

What is the difference then? By paying a fee, those same spammers will have FULL access to your inbox. ALL of their spam will automatically bypass the spam filters. Your inbox will get MORE spam, not less.
And if the spammers don't want to pay? Guess what, they can still send out millions of messages, for FREE, just like they do now. Does that sound like putting spammers out of business to you?

If the spammers don't pay, their revenues remain exactly the same. But if they DO pay, all the spam they send out becomes more effective, because it is guaranteed to land in all those users inboxes. Their revenues will INCREASE, thereby offsetting the cost of sending the spam. The only difference is that AOL and Yahoo will get their cut.

The bottom line is: AOL and Yahoo are selling your inbox to support spam.




By masher2 (blog) on 2/28/2006 1:11:02 PM , Rating: 2
No, the bottom line is they're selling access to their inboxes. "Your" inbox is one attached to your own mail server. Their servers, their rules. If you don't like it, stop whining and buy your own.

Secondly, Yahoo and AOL are only making this service available to legitimate senders of bulk email. Random spammers will NOT be able able to circumvent the current email filters. So those crying the sky is falling are, as usual, incorrect.



By nomagic on 2/28/2006 1:40:36 PM , Rating: 2
Describe legitimate senders of bulk email, please.


Illegalities
By Dfere on 2/28/2006 1:10:17 PM , Rating: 2
Perhaps someone can help me out here. I thought that at the very least, spamming was shunned by most ISP's and self regulated, if not actually in violation of state(s) and or federal law? If so, aren't Yahoo and AOL in violation?

Also, Yahoo is a very big ISP itself- not free email necessarily. If I have a free email account- I would not have a problem if someone used my name and address or revenue purposes- there is nothing as ficititious as a free lunch.
But if I pay for an ISP and they make money off my name and address.... I would either quit or sue for a share of that revenue. I never authorized its use for Yahoo (who I am as a paying member) and I did not agree in any of the EULA's to allow a discount on my monthly service for their right to license my information.




RE: Illegalities
By masher2 (blog) on 2/28/2006 1:14:59 PM , Rating: 2
First of all, they're not selling your address; whoever emails you has to already have it. Secondly, they're not selling the service to arbitrary spammers. The only organizations able to use these tokens are those who can show a prior business arrangement with you or some other proof the email is not unsolicited.

Now, perhaps all the children scurrying around and screaming foul can calm down.


RE: Illegalities
By Wellsoul2 on 2/28/2006 4:01:05 PM , Rating: 2
Seems ok to try the idea on the free accounts.

I like my free Yahoo account right now,
If I don't like it when this happens I'll
move to another mailbox.

Enough people do it and the idea dies.

No big deal..I don't pay anyway.

The magic of the internet is you can get a free
mailbox elsewhere.




AOL ain't free...
By MScrip on 2/28/2006 4:55:07 PM , Rating: 2
Yahoo mail is a free service, so I can understand "their servers, their way, etc..." But millions of people actually PAY to have an AOL e-mail address! And now this happens?

AOL doesn't care about its customers. AOL makes money from subscribers, and now, AOL will make extra money from spammers.

But, this announcement will benefit every other ISP... I hope AOL members will finally switch because of this.

I can see it now... "switch to Earthlink... we have spam filters... and goddamit, they work!"

It will be a sad day if more ISPs and DSL/cable companies also sell your inbox to spammers...:(




RE: AOL ain't free...
By masher2 (blog) on 2/28/2006 5:18:16 PM , Rating: 1
Which part of "AOL is not offering this service to spammers" do you not understand?


RE: AOL ain't free...
By MScrip on 2/28/2006 8:41:23 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
...senders would have to pay for each message sent. These e-mails will bypass spam filters and be sent directly into a user's inbox.


The article is talking about BULK senders paying a fee to avoid the spam-filter so their messages go into inboxes. Who exactly are bulk senders anyway?

I know all bulk senders are not considered spammers... some are legitimate companies. But come on... how long will it take for spammers to figure out how to become "AOL Certified?"

No one wants spam, right? Spam filters make people happy, right? But now bulk senders who pay a fee can avoid the filter and still get to your inbox. That's not right!


RE: AOL ain't free...
By masher2 (blog) on 2/28/06, Rating: -1
The most dangerous part is ...
By pixelslave on 2/28/2006 9:30:06 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
In the coming months, Yahoo! will test an optional certified e-mail program based on 'transactional' messages only, such as bank statements and purchase receipts, as an additional layer of protection against e-mail identity theft scams known as phishing attacks,


The most dangerous part is the word "transactional" -- if all e-mail providers employ similar techniques, we will soon see a surcharge from our bank to send us statement thru e-mails! I think this whole damn thing is caused by people complaining too much without knowing that no perfect solution exists, and then some genius thought that they have the most brilliant idea to fight the problem and make some profits out of it.

Is spam such a big problem? Yes. Is it such a problem that it can't be reduced to a more manageable level? No. Spam filters, personal black/white list, challenge/response are all effective techniques. It won't solve all the spam problems, but from a personal point of view, they reduce the effect of spam. The ISP/e-mail providers suffer the most because even if we don't see the spam in our in-box, they still pay for the traffic. They make it sounds like they are solving the problems for us, but in fact, they are solving their own problems.




RE: The most dangerous part is ...
By masher2 (blog) on 2/28/06, Rating: 0
By slashdotcomma on 2/28/2006 10:41:16 PM , Rating: 2
bravo masher2!


optional?
By NerV04 on 2/28/2006 8:08:54 AM , Rating: 2
i thought that this was just an optional service that u could pick. And ive never had a problem recieving mail from family members and freinds because of the spam filter so dont see the need for this...




By Gholam on 2/28/2006 11:07:18 AM , Rating: 2
Are address lists along with profiling data bundled with this "fee", or is that a separate charge?




WHO???
By ROB G on 3/1/2006 12:17:34 AM , Rating: 2
Who actually reads that spam crap anyway? You could send me a thousand emails, and if I don't know you, I delete you! Spam filters take care of the rest...I can't believe that spammers can actually profit from sending emails to people who don't want them...I just don't get it...has anyone here ever bought into anything from an unsolicited email...geez




By Nekrik on 3/1/2006 12:53:30 AM , Rating: 2
see that this isn't going to have a good impact on the end-user. User's are not the focus of AOL and Yahoo, they'll send as much paid garbage mail to your inbox as they want, and the new fees charged to the sending companies will make it's way back to consumers as yet another surcharge or rate increase.




By Nekrik on 3/1/2006 12:53:30 AM , Rating: 2
see that this isn't going to have a good impact on the end-user. User's are not the focus of AOL and Yahoo, they'll send as much paid garbage mail to your inbox as they want, and the new fees charged to the sending companies will make it's way back to consumers as yet another surcharge or rate increase.




Spam is not going to stop by this
By ncage on 3/1/2006 1:37:07 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think this will stop spam and according to the press release this is what they are tying to do. Maybe really there just trying to generate a little revenue i don't know. Legislation hasn't helped out the spam situation either. Do you recieve any less spam? I know i don't. Every time the sue a spammer there are more waiting to take is place and you know what they wont' really stop unless they get caught. Its always peoples mentality that "they aren't gonna catch me". Anyways to stop spam we needed Microsoft/Yahoo/GNU to get back on the ball on the antispam measures that they have been talking about for the last two years that seem to fade as of recently. They need to compromise so we have some kind of way to control spam. Yahoo endorsed Domain Keys i think and microsoft had some other type of technology. We need to get something like this in place but i don't know if we ever will because each company wants to own the rights to this technology. Its the same thing with the fighting back and forth on HD-DVD & BR. I guess we can have a fools hope but who knows if it will ever happen.




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