Outrage Over AOL Email Filtering Plans

    February 9, 2006

AOL’s announcement last week that they are often deleting links and images from emails from those who aren’t whitelisted has created a firestorm from their subscribers.

Here are some of the comments I received in response to articles in WebProNews about AOL’s partnership with Goodmail:

When I saw the article about this in the Sunday paper I had much the same thoughts, only the word “extortion” was the first one I thought of. If AOL, which has always had a cavalier attitude about other companies, decides to make people pay to have their email delivered (and that will be the next step), they will end up losing business. I, for one, would place a notice on my opt-in email sign-up form that I cannot deliver to an aol address. That will mean AOL customers will miss out on a ton of free information. Others will undoubtedly do the same thing.

Your point about libel is a good one. The copyright laws might also come into play here. Huge fines and court costs possible.

I think this is a trial balloon on AOL’s part, though.
Posted by: Robert Cain


AS a long suffering but very patient customer of AOL (8,Years) I finally took the plunge and dumped AOL. This latest scam by AOL will hopefully put the final nail in their coffin. It is another attempt at extortion and control by internet companies not only ISP’s. YOu only have to look at Intel, Microsoft and Google. At least Jessie James had the decency to wear a mask.
Posted by: Phill


When AOL and Yahoo start doing this my plan is just to ignore it. Next I might start saying that “this site does not send email to AOL or Yahoo”- if enough people did this then there might not be any value in people using Yahoo or AOL.
Posted by: Gary Bradshaw


Am I reading this right. If I have an email account with Yahoo or AOL and have a paid subscription to someone to receive a weekly newsheet, then Yahoo or AOL can decide that because my supplier aren’t paying them to deliver to me then they can unilateraly either block links or whatever on that mail or even junk it.
Sounds like more than possible libel – could be theft
Posted by: Tony


This is like the post office opening mail & removing or changeing what is in the envelope.
Infringment of privacy & criminal
offence in uk (felony level in usa)
& should be treated by the courts in the same way. next they will be adding their OWN advertisments!
Posted by: ronangel


RE: AOL’s Email Tax


I hope you’re right about AOL reversing course. For this to happen, they need to get a bloody nose. By slipping the announcement in on Superbowl Sunday, they are trying to minimize the initial PR damage. And, things have been surprisingly quiet. There needs to be a huge outcry. The following is a press release we tossed out


We do have a real dilemma. 20% of my customer base uses AOL or Yahoo. We’re supposed to be whitelisted with AOL, but since January, we’ve had trouble communicating with Yahoo customers. I do not intend to pay goodmail. We are looking into Habeas and Bonded Sender. If spending $10K a year or so would end delivery problems, I’d pay it in a heartbeat. I won’t pay up to $150K, which is what goodmail could cost. We’ll probably run an announcement in a few more days stating that we’re not going to pay goodmail and will instead direct our subscribers to different email providers (which, in fact, has already begun).

Thanks for fighting this. Lots of people need to fight it.

Matt Michel
CEO & President
The Service Roundtable


Hi Rich, I read your article on webpronews.com and agree with you completely. I am happy to say that my company will be delivering the solution to the Goodmail problem, the Spam Cube.

The first consumer anti-spam/anti-virus gadget for residential, the “ipod of spam protection” if you will.

David J. Soares
Chief Business Development Officer
Spam Cube, Inc


Agree that that it sounds like a failed model to charge for the delivery of free subscription emails. And I don’t think people will pay for 99% of the free emails that they subscribe to for the very reason that they are free. However, a way to somehow register the sender that would be able for a users email app to use as a part of a filter function would maybee do the trick. It wouldn’t stop spammers, but it decrease their possibilities of getting through maybee?
Posted by: Michael


I haven’t studied AOL’s plans and can’t speak about it specifically, and some of what I have heard seems ominous, but I for one am definitely willing to pay to get my mail through or posting a bond at least. Too much valid mail is being blocked and this causes all kinds of problems for small firms reaching their customers or members. Hopefully it also results in a reduction of spam.
Posted by: Anonymous


This is the thin end of the wedge. I would strongly suggest that any service provider that does not allow mail from any source to go to the recipcant as was intended (spam filters as used at present excepted) & who does not provide an opt out box to tick, should have all their sevices boycotted by users in every country.vote them out with your wallet if you dont like what they do!
Posted by: ronangel

Rich Ord is the CEO of iEntry, Inc. which publishes over 200 websites and email newsletters.

Rich also publishes his blog WebProBlog which focuses on internet business and marketing trends.