EFF has coordinated a massive effort to push back against AOL/Yahoo's proposed email tax that will only guarantee delivery of email if the sender pays AOL/Yahoo for every message they deliver:
A pay-to-send system won't help the fight against spam – in fact, this plan assumes that spam will continue and that mass mailers will be willing to pay to have their emails bypass spam filters. And non-paying spammers will not reduce the amount of mail they throw at your filters simply because others pay to evade them.
Perversely, the new two-tiered system AOL proposes would actually reward AOL financially for failing to maintain its email service. The chief advantage of paying to send CertifiedEmail is that it can bypass AOL's spam filters. Non-paying customers are being asked to trust that after paid mail goes into effect, AOL will properly maintain its spam filters so only unwanted mail gets thrown away.
But the economic incentives point the other way: The moment AOL switches to a two-tiered Internet where giant emailers pay for preferential service, AOL will face a simple business choice: spend money to keep regular spam filters up-to-date, or make money by neglecting their spam filters and pushing more senders to pay for guaranteed delivery. Poor delivery of mail turns from being a problem that AOL has every incentive to fix to something that could actually make them money if the company ignores it.
Way more impressive than the letter is who signed it:
AFL-CIO, AIDS Foundation of Chicago, American Academy of HIV Medicine,
Association of Cancer Online Resources, Chris Pirillo, Lockergnome, Common Cause,
Communication Workers of America, Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project, Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility,
Consumer Federation of America, Craig Newmark, Democracy For America,
Democracy In Action, Democratic National Committee, Donor Digital,
Drug Policy Alliance, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Free Press,
Gun Owners of America, Human Rights Campaign, Humane Society of United States,
Michael Geist, Moveon.org Civic Action, Oxfam America,
Peacefire, RightMarch, RiseUp Networks,
Tim O'Reilly, O'Reilly Media, United Farm Workers, Working Assets,
American Rights At Work, Brothers In Action, Californians Against Waste,
Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, Center for Digital Democracy, Chicago Media Action
Chin Music Press, Cleanpeace.org, Connecticut Parent Power,
Defenders of Wildlife, Earthjustice, Earthworks,
Englewood Ob/Gyn, Equality North Carolina, Free Schuylkill River Park,
Life-Zone, M+R Strategic Services, Maryland League of Conservation Voters,
Media Alliance, National Video Resources, North Carolina Harm Reduction Center
Prometheus Radio, Roots of Promise, Sinapu,