Why is AOL blocking detractors' emails?

News & Politics

AOL recently kicked up a firestorm with an idea to reduce the amount of spam traveling through its networks: make senders pay for the email they're sending. Dubbed the "email tax," it would require organizations sending out bulk mail to pay a fee to reach AOL subscribers, thus reducing the number of spammers out there who would be unwilling to pay. Sounds nifty on the surface, but then think about all of the charities, small businesses and grassroots organizations out there on shoestring budgets who could never afford those fees, and you start to realize just how insidious the plan is. The RiseUp collective summed it up best:

By creating one class of Internet users who pay for guaranteed email delivery, AOL will leave everyone else (that's us) as a second-class citizen on the Internet. AOL's email tax creates an unlevel playing field online and as a result your online organizing will suffer unless we stop it together. Those who can afford to pay for preferential service will leave behind those of us who cannot, resulting in unreliable email delivery.

A coalition of people with strong support from MoveOn started an organizing effort against AOL's fee plans called DearAOL.com in early March, to which over 500 organizations joined and to date around 43,000 individuals have signed on.

Then last week, AOL mysteriously started blocking emails containing the DearAOL.com link. From their blog:

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