The Electronic Frontier Foundation and a host of others have released an open letter to AOL asking the ISP to reconsider adoption of the proposed Goodmail “email tax” that made big news not long ago. At the time, I said I didn’t care about this, as it would only speed the inevitable adoption of RSS for content delivery.
But upon continued reflection, it’s simply a flat-out disturbing development. AOL’s plans represent only the first step down a slippery slope towards fragmentation and corporate control of the Internet’s historical open access, and we shouldn’t let it happen without a fight. It can only hurt the small businesses and entrepreneurs who are continually moving into the growing online marketplace, not to mention charities, non-profits, and just regular folks.
Here’s the gist of the open letter’s argument, and it’s hard to find fault with:
The bottom-line is that charging an “email tax” actually gives AOL a financial incentive to degrade email for non-paying senders. This would disrupt the communications of millions who cannot afford to pay your fees-including the non-profits, civic organizations, charities, small businesses, and community mailing lists that have arisen for every topic under the sun and that make email so vital to your subscribers.And what if other Internet service providers retaliate and start demanding their own ransoms to accept mail from your millions of users?
The open letter can be signed off by any concerned netizen. Why not make your voice heard? You can sign the petition here.
Thanks to Chris Pirillo for the heads up. And yes, the word of the day is requisition, a formal written request of a necessity. Not usually used in this context, but I needed a good play on that famous rallying cry of rebellion.