[OPE-L] email tax

From: glevy@PRATT.EDU
Date: Sun Mar 05 2006 - 13:18:39 EST

March 4, 2006

AOL is threatening the Internet as we know it.

They want to charge an "email tax" for sending email.
Those who don't pay would risk their emails not being

Can you help change AOL's mind by signing this
emergency petition?

The very existence of online civic participation and
the free Internet as we know it are under attack by
America Online.

AOL recently announced what amounts to an "email tax."
Under this pay-to-send system, large emailers willing
to pay an "email tax" can bypass spam filters and get
guaranteed access to people's inboxes-with their
messages having a preferential high-priority

Charities, small businesses, civic organizing groups,
and even families with mailing lists will inevitably be
left with inferior Internet service unless they are
willing to pay the "email tax" to AOL. We need to stop
AOL immediately so other email hosts know that
following AOL's lead would be a mistake.

Can you sign this emergency petition to America Online
and forward it to your friends?

Sign here:  http://civic.moveon.org/emailtax/

Petition statement: "AOL, don't auction off
preferential access to people's inboxes to giant
emailers, while leaving people's friends, families, and
favorite causes wondering if their emails are being
delivered at all. The Internet is a force for democracy
and economic innovation only because it is open to all
Internet users equally-we must not let it become an
unlevel playing field."

Sign here:  http://civic.moveon.org/emailtax/

AOL is one of the biggest email hosts in the world-if
we stop them from unleashing this threat to the
Internet, others will know not to try it. Everyone who
signs this petition will be sent information on how to
contact AOL directly, as well as future steps that can
be taken until AOL drops its new "email tax" policy.

AOL's proposed pay-to-send system is the first step
down the slippery slope toward dividing the Internet
into two classes of users-those who get preferential
treatment and those who are left behind.

AOL pretends nothing would change for senders who don't
pay, but that's not reality. The moment AOL switches to
a world where giant emailers pay for preferential
treatment, AOL faces this internal choice: spend money
to keep spam filters up-to-date so legitimate email
isn't identified as spam, or make money by neglecting
their spam filters and pushing more senders to pay for
guaranteed delivery. Which do you think they'll choose?

If AOL has its way, the big loser will be regular email
users-whose email from friends, family, and favorite
causes will increasingly go undelivered and disappear
into the black hole of a neglected spam filter. Another
loser will be democracy and economic innovation on the
Internet-where small ideas become big ideas
specifically because regular people can spread ideas
freely on a level playing field.

If an "email tax" existed when MoveOn began, we never
would have gotten off the ground-indeed, AOL's proposal
will hurt every membership group, regardless of
political affiliation. That's why groups all across the
political spectrum are joining together with charities,
non-profits, small businesses, labor unions, and
Internet watchdog groups in opposition to AOL's "email

The president of the Association for Cancer Online
Resources (ACOR) points out the real-world urgency of
this issue:

  In essence, this is going to block every AOL
  subscriber suffering from any form of cancer from
  receiving potentially life-saving information they
  may not be able to get from any other source,
  simply because a non-profit like ACOR-which serves
  more than 55,000 cancer patients and caregivers
  every day-cannot afford to pay the fee.1

Can you sign this emergency petition to America Online
and forward it to your friends?


Thank you for all you do.

Eli Pariser, Noah T. Winer, Adam Green, and the
MoveOn.org Civic Action team Wednesday, February
22nd, 2006

P.S. The Electronic Frontier Foundation summed up the
"email tax" issue beautifully:

  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...

  Once a pay-to-speak system like this gets going, it
  will be increasing difficult for people who don't
  pay to get their mail through. The system has no
  way to distinguish between ordinary mail and bulk
  mail, spam and non-spam, personal and commercial
  mail. It just gives preference to people who


1. "Postage is due for companies sending e-mail," New
York Times, February 4, 2006

2. "AOL's New Email Certification Program: Good Mail or
Goodfellas?" L-Soft Release, February 2, 2006

3. "AOL, Yahoo and Goodmail: Taxing Your Email for Fun
and Profit," Electronic Frontier Foundation, February
8, 2006 http://www.moveon.org/r?r=1454
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