[Politech logo]

Politech is the oldest Internet resource devoted to politics and technology. Launched in 1994 by Declan McCullagh, the mailing list has chronicled the growing intersection of law, culture, technology, and politics. Since 2000, so has the Politech web site.

Why was Moveon.org blocked by AOL? Did recipients want the email messages?

I'm sympathetic with many of EFF's positions on spam. But it is 
reasonable to ask: (a) Is each and every address receiving alerts from 
dearaol.com confirmed double-opt in? (b) Did dearaol.com borrow lists 
from some of its member organizations like moveon.org that may have 
less-than pristine list management practices? (c) Did a human at AOL 
intentionally block dearaol.com messages because of the content of the 
mailings or was it entirely automatic because so many AOLers were 
marking the alerts as spam?

Previous Politech message:


-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Fw: Re: [IP] EFF: AOL Censors Email Tax Opponents
Date: Fri, 14 Apr 2006 09:01:31 +0530
From: Suresh Ramasubramanian <suresh@hserus.net>
Organization: Who? Me?
To: declan@well.com

I guess you probably know what I'd say about this. Anyway, please see


Re: [IP] EFF: AOL Censors Email Tax Opponents
Suresh Ramasubramanian <suresh@hserus.net>
Fri, 14 Apr 2006 08:52:41 +0530
David Farber <dave@farber.net>
press@eff.org, danny@eff.org

aol's spam filters, like those of many an ISP, are keyed to spam reports
from their users who can hit report as spam to mark a message as spam

moveon.org has never been noted for good list management, like the case
where they were inviting our ISP tech support staff, based out of hong
kong, to participate in a rally outside the white house (what, and pay
airfare + hotel for 8 people from hong kong to DC)?

dearaol.com has this astroturf feature - load up a big list of email
addresses and put in a pitch about dearaol, we'll mail it out for you

chances are very high that people will receive these without
soliciting them - and they'll hit report as spam.

that WILL cause a block

we had a similar block in place for a while before I removed it, given that
the campaign does seem to have some legitimate, if highly uninformed and
misguided popularity.

David Farber [13/04/06 18:48 -0400]:
 > Begin forwarded message:
 > From: EFF Press <press@eff.org>
 > Date: April 13, 2006 5:13:58 PM EDT
 > To: presslist@eff.org
 > Subject: [E-B] EFF: AOL Censors Email Tax Opponents
 > Reply-To: press@eff.org
 > Electronic Frontier Foundation Media Release
 > For Immediate Release: Thursday, April 13, 2006
 > Contact:
 > Danny O'Brien
 >    Activism Coordinator
 >    Electronic Frontier Foundation
 >    danny@eff.org
 >    415.436.9333
 > Rebecca Jeschke
 >    Media Coordinator
 >    Electronic Frontier Foundation
 >    press@eff.org
 >    +1 415 436-9333 x125
 > AOL Censors Email Tax Opponents
 > Won?t Deliver Emails Mentioning www.DearAOL.com
 > San Francisco - AOL is blocking delivery to AOL customers
 > of all emails that include a link to www.DearAOL.com.
 > Today, over 100 people who signed a petition to AOL tried
 > sending messages to their AOL-using friends, and received a
 > bounce-back message informing them that their email "failed
 > permanently."
 > "The fact is, ISPs like AOL commonly make these kinds of
 > arbitrary decisions -- silently banning huge swathes of
 > legitimate mail on the flimsiest of reasons - every day,
 > and no-one hears about it," said Danny O'Brien, of the
 > Electronic Frontier Foundation, "AOL's planned
 > CertifiedEmail system would let them profit from this power
 > by offering to charge legitimate mailers to bypass these
 > malfunctioning filters."
 > After reports of undelivered email started rolling in to
 > the DearAOL.com Coalition, MoveOn co-founder Wes Boyd
 > decided to see for himself if it was true.
 > "I tried to email my brother-in-law about DearAOL.com and
 > AOL sent me a response as if he had disappeared," said
 > Boyd. "But when I sent him an email without the DearAOL.com
 > link, it went right through."
 > While AOL may imply that censoring www.DearAOL.com is part
 > of some anti-spam effort, their own customers are
 > witnessing how faulty AOL's spam measures would be if that
 > was the case.
 > "I forwarded www.DearAOL.com to my own AOL account and it
 > was censored.  Apparently I can't even tell myself about
 > it," said Kelly Tessitore from Framingham, Massachusetts.
 > "This proves the DearAOL.com Coalition's point entirely:
 > Left to their own devices, AOL will always put its own self
 > interest ahead of the public interest in a free and open
 > Internet," said Timothy Karr, campaign director of Free
 > Press, a national, nonpartisan organization working on
 > media reform and Internet policy issues. "AOL wants us to
 > believe they won't hurt free email when their pay-to-send
 > system is up and running. But if AOL is willing to censor
 > the flow of information now to silence their critics, how
 > could anyone trust that they will preserve the free and
 > open Internet down the road? Their days of saying 'trust
 > us' are over ? their credibility is zero, zip, nada."
 > The DearAOL.com Coalition represents over 15 million people
 > combined ? and has grown from 50 member organizations to
 > 600 in a month. Since the beginning of the DearAOL.com
 > campaign, more than 350,000 Internet users have signed
 > letters to AOL opposing its pay to send proposal. Coalition
 > members include craigslist founder Craig Newmark, the
 > Association of Cancer Online Resources, EFF, Free Press,
 > the AFL-CIO, MoveOn.org Civic Action, Gun Owners of
 > America, and others.
 > For more on the issues surrounding pay-to-send email, join
 > EFF for a debate on April 20 in San Francisco.  EFF's
 > O'Brien and tech expert Esther Dyson will face off over the
 > question "Email - Should the Sender Pay?"  Entrepreneur
 > Mitch Kaptor will moderate.
 > More information about the DearAOL.com Coalition:
 > http://www.dearaol.com/
 > More information on next week's debate:
 > http://www.eff.org/bayff/aolmail_debate.php
 > For this release:
 > http://www.eff.org/news/archives/2006_04.php#004556
 > About EFF
 > The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading civil
 > liberties organization working to protect rights in the
 > digital world. Founded in 1990, EFF actively encourages and
 > challenges industry and government to support free
 > expression and privacy online. EFF is a member-supported
 > organization and maintains one of the most linked-to
 > websites in the world at http://www.eff.org/

Posted by Declan McCullagh on Apr 13, 2006 in category spam

Get a Politech feed through RSS or Atom [RSS] [Atom]

The Politech general information pages and photographs are copyrighted by Declan McCullagh. Original posts distributed to the mailing list are licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Creative Commons License