ZDNet: (link fixed) Five of the largest ISPs in the US are to start charging businesses for guaranteed delivery of their emails, in a bid to combat s
June 7, 2007

ZDNet: (link fixed)

Five of the largest ISPs in the US are to start charging businesses for guaranteed delivery of their emails, in a bid to combat spam.

Goodmail Systems, which provides a service called CertifiedEmail, announced on Thursday that it had signed up Comcast, Cox Communications, Time Warner Cable's Road Runner and Verizon as customers. Emails certified using the system are marked with a blue ribbon to show they come from a trusted source, thus bypassing spam filters - a privilege which will cost the sender a quarter of a US cent per email.

The voluntary scheme is aimed at large corporations and financial institutions whose mass mailings are most likely to be spoofed and caught in spam filters. Non-profit groups will be able to use the service for roughly a tenth of the commercial rate.[..]

According to Goodmail, seven US ISPs are now using CertifedEmail, accounting for 60 percent of the US population. Goodmail - which takes up to 50 percent of the revenue generated by the scheme - will for now only approve mail sent by companies and organisations which have been operational for a year or more. Ordinary users can still apply to be whitelisted by individual ISPs, which effectively provides the same trusted status.

I'm reading their justification, but...call me cynical, this just seems like a very dangerous slippery slope. In fact, I asked a few other bloggers their opinion and one directed me to this EFF statement:

Remember the famous email rumor that made the rounds in the 1990s: "Congress is trying to tax your Internet connection, write in now!"

Well what wasn't true in the 1990s is apparently coming true in 2006, only the beneficiaries won't be Uncle Sam -- it will be Yahoo, AOL, and a company ironically called Goodmail.

Cory Doctorow: There's an inverse correlation between the regulation of speech and the freedom of a society. Trying to filter the internet is ridiculous and dangerous.

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