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more on EFF: AOL Censors Email Tax Opponents
From: David Farber <dave () farber net>
Date: Sat, 15 Apr 2006 13:59:53 -0400



Begin forwarded message:

From: Bill Stewart <bill.stewart () pobox com>
Date: April 14, 2006 2:52:15 PM EDT
To: dave () farber net
Subject: RE: [IP] more on EFF: AOL Censors Email Tax Opponents

Jim Warren's email suggested:
> Isn't it about time that we had common-carrier status for email
> -- as HAS been the mandate for the telephone cartel?
> Otherwise -- like  AOL -- it could block all phone calls that it
> could identify as being critical of it.)

While I agree with Jim's frustration,
I'm afraid his thinking is running a bit light here,
and his suggestion has too much overbyte...

Most people I know would like their email provider to do
fairly aggressive spam filtering to cut down on the spam they receive,
though of course with zero false positives,
and it's difficult to do well unless you make fundamental changes
in your approaches to email, such as well-tracked tagging.
Some people really want to receive all email addressed to them
and do their own filtering, but most people would rather pay
somebody else to do it, and different people make different tradeoffs
in what kinds of errors they're willing to accept.

AOL has traditionally been very aggressive about
blocking suspected spam sources, and some years does
better than others about being responsive to
non-spamming email senders whose mail has been rejected -
other big email servers occasionally have to yell at them.
When you're one of the largest email services in the business,
anybody who wants to send mail does need to listen to you,
and they have enough popular services that their users stay
even when they go overboard about blocking real email.

Blocking email content or senders because a carrier doesn't
like them, without fair warning to customers, is reprehensible.
But blocking it because you're too large to notice
whether something really is or is not spam
is just a competence problem that the market should take care of,
and you can always nag your friends to get a free webmail
account somewhere else to augment their AOL if it doesn't work.






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