Overview of Paid E-mail
Paid E-mail, as defined by Wikipedia, is a system
through which companies would pay a small fee to ensure that their e-mails are
delivered directly to the userís mailbox.
Through this system companies would pay a fraction of a cent for every
message they send and in exchange their message would be guaranteed to bypass
all spam filters. At the same time this
system would help recipients discern between legitimate e-mails and forged
phishing attempts by clearly marking those messages that have been
In February of 2006, both America
Online and Yahoo announced their intentions to implement a certified e-mail
system in conjunction with Goodmail
Systems. At the start of March
2006, AOL stated that it was planning on launching the new system within thirty
days.†This decision came despite
mounting criticism from numerous sources.
Issues Raised Against the Implementation of Paid E-mail.
(For more details see the following articles from : Mercury
News, TechNews, LATimes
- The certified e-mail system will lead to an unequal two-tiered
Critics fear that the new system will disadvantage non-profit
organizations and other small groups that use the internet as a window of
information to society. Many
organizations fear that this system will reduce their ability to reach the
public since they would be unable to pay the required fee for e-mail
certification. These groups have labeled the system a barrier to free
speech despite AOLís claim that free e-mail will continue to work as
The system is essentially an e-mail tax.
Some view the certified e-mail system as an electronic
postage stamp. Since free e-mail will
be increasingly scrutinized by spam blockers and filterers, some fear they will
essentially be forced into paying this tax to ensure delivery of their
messages. However, AOL maintains that
the new program is completely optional and cannot be viewed as a tax. Instead,
they claim this system is exactly the same as the post office offering
different rates for overnight mail or
Monetary incentives for the companies involved will
lead to the end of free-email.
Profits obtained through the certified e-mail system
are shared between the e-mail provider (AOL) and the service provider
(Goodmail). Critics fear that this
monetary incentive will cause e-mail providers such as AOL to put extra
pressure on senders to move to the paid system eventually leading to the
decline of free e-mail. AOL denies this
criticism claiming that the revenues from the program are minimal and will be
used to further improve spam filters and other free e-mail security
Issues Raised in Favor of the Implementation of Paid E-mail.
(For more details see the following articles from: Digital-Lifestyles
The system will protect users from spam and e-mail scams.
The certified e-mail system works on the premise that
legitimate companies will be more than glad to pay a nominal fee to guarantee
delivery of their mail while spammers will not be able to afford the
costs.†Spammers send millions upon
millions of e-mails each day knowing that they will only receive a reply from a
very small percentage of them.†These
tens of millions of e-mails would cost much more money to send than the
potential profits of the advertisement.†Also, since certified e-mails will
be tagged, theoretically users would
be able to discern between legitimate e-mails and forged phishing attempts or
viruses. However, there is no guarantee
that spammers won't find a way to bypass this system as well. Also, just
because a company has bought the right to send out certified e-mail doesn't
mean that the recipients actually want to receive this e-mail.
There is always the potential of receiving
certified spam and not being able to block it.