Thursday, February 9, 2006

AOL is trying to sell us out again

Okay, I was able to resolve myself to living with the trashy, blinking advertisements put on my journal.  However, I will not be able to put up with this crap.  Please read the following email I received today.

"Dear AOL user,

The very existence of online organizing and the free Internet as we know it are under attack by America Online. We need to fight back quickly.

AOL just announced what amounts to an "email tax." AOL would sell access to your inbox to giant corporations—allowing them to bypass spam filters and get messages directly into your inbox with a special high-priority designation. AOL says this fee will help deter spam, but it will actually help companies spam you more efficiently—and it'll lock out online organizing groups that can't afford to pay the price.

Can you sign this emergency petition to America Online and forward it to your friends—especially those who use AOL or care about keeping the Internet free?

Petition statement: "AOL, don't auction off access to my inbox to giant corporations, while leaving my friends, family, and favorite causes wondering if their emails to me are being delivered at all. The right way to deal with spam is to put more control in the hands of users and to keep email free."

AOL is not used to massive citizen outrage. When thousands of AOL users sign a petition, AOL will begin to understand they face a huge customer rebellion. 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 policy.

The big loser would be customers—whose email from non-paying senders would increasingly be marked as spam and go undelivered. AOL pretends nothing would change for senders who don't pay, saying their emails will still be "accepted." But this is an empty promise since "accepting" non-paid emails means many will be thrown into the black hole of a spam filter or "stripped of images and Web links" to the point of being unreadable, as reported in the NewYork Times.1

Another loser would be democracy on the Internet—which has thrived as regular citizens have been empowered to organize online, participate in civic life, and communicate with each other for free. If an "email tax" existed when MoveOn began, we never would have gotten off the ground. 

Under AOL's proposed pay-to-send system, online organizing all across the political spectrum will suffer. Issue groups, charities, and other non-profits with large email lists will have to pay thousands of dollars for every email message sent. And AOL would get two paydays: one when you pay for your account and another when you're emailed by companies that bought priority access to your inbox. 

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

Take action here:  Move On AOL Petition

I went and signed it.  I hope others do too.

Have a good afternoon.

~Jill Marie

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