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Opposition to AOL's 'email tax' grows

AOL annoys gun owners, greens, farm unions...almost everyone...

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More than 50 organisations are joining forces to protest against AOL's plan to start charging for email.

AOL is planning to charge mass-emailers a fee to avoid the ISP's spam filters and guarantee that their marketing emails arrive straight in AOL subscribers' inboxes.

But 54 groups - ranging from Gun Owners of America to Oxfam America and Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist - are asking AOL to rethink the decision.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is organising the protest through the website www.dearaol.com Almost 1,500 individuals have already signed up in support.

The groups are concerned that having first and second class delivery for email will put charities and not-for-profit groups at a disadvantage. If you cannot afford to pay the charge your messages are likely to end up in a spam filter rather than an inbox.

The open letter also points out that the proposed changes would effectively remove any financial incentive for AOL to fight spam.

The letter says: "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."

The groups claim to represent 15m people - 3m of them AOL subscribers. It wants people to sign the petition, phone AOL and complain, and get blogging. ®

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