TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: AOL to Give Free Email to Non Profits

AOL to Give Free Email to Non Profits

Reuters News Wire (
Sun, 5 Mar 2006 18:27:54 -0600

AOL, the Internet service provider unit of Time Warner Inc., on Friday
said it will not charge legitimate not-for-profit organizations and
advocacy groups to have their e-mails authenticated and delivered to

The decision addresses an outcry from political and civic activist
groups, which said AOL's plans to charge mass senders of e-mail a fee
to reduce junk mail amounted to an "attack" on the "free existence of
online civic participation."

The company said that it is seeking to make it "crystal clear" that
nonprofit groups would have all their e-mails delivered, including
enabled Web-links and images, contrary to recent criticism in the
media by advocacy groups.

"There will be no requirement, ever, for not-for-profits who deliver
e-mail to AOL members to pay for e-mail certification and delivery,"
Charles Stiles, AOL's Postmaster, said.

The company said it is also offering to pay for the e-mails of
qualifying groups to be validated by a third party.

"AOL may never see eye to eye with organizations who say there must
never be a system such as certified mail," an AOL spokesman said. "But
we believe it will benefit consumers by tackling problems such as
identity theft and phishing."

AOL is working with the Goodmail Certified E-mail program, which
authenticates e-mail messages allowing the delivery of images and
hyperlinks on most high-volume messages.

Earlier this week the advocacy groups Electronic Frontier Foundation
and called the plan a tax on e-mail.

MoveOn sent an e-mail to its membership claiming the "very existence
of online civic participation and the free Internet as we know it are
under attack by America Online."

It claimed that among others, charities and civic organizing groups
with mailing lists would be left with "inferior" Internet service
unless they proved willing to pay the "e-mail tax" to AOL, a claim the
service provider denies.

Copyright 2006 Reuters Limited.

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