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Jason Miller

No Goodmail for Gmail
Leaving AOL further out on a limb holding its Goodmail playbook, Google said it will not be instituting a payment system to ensure email delivery to Gmail users. The power of email filtering, said the company, should rest in the hands of its users.
Editor's Note:Is it getting too hot for AOL? Is it time for them to scrap their Goodmail partnership? Or is true net-neutrality and open access a fantasy of the Internet socialist? Discuss in WebProWorld.
Until now, Google had been very quiet about AOL's controversial plan to implement Goodmail's CertifiedEmail system, one that would require approved bulk mailers to pay a small fee per email in order to ensure delivery to member inboxes.

After Yahoo! made a separate announcement about the use of Goodmail, many had feared a domino effect in the industry that would cost bulk mailers millions of dollars per year. The fear that Google would follow suit stemmed largely from the presence of Google Vice President Jonathan Rosenberg on Goodmail's list of strategic advisors.

But in a statement to WebProNews, Google Corporate Communications' Eileen Rodriguez said there were no plans to implement any such payment process.

"Gmail does not accept payment to bypass its filters, nor are there plans to charge senders to reach Gmail users," said Rodriguez.

Adam Green of, one AOL's harshest critics, believes Gmail's announcement to be illustrative of email service providers (ESP) increasing reluctance to be lumped in with the AOL pay-to-send scheme.

"AOL is increasingly looking like the black sheep of the industry as respected titans like Google distance themselves and state for the record that they will not follow AOL's lead into a world where the big guys can pay to bypass spam filters," said Green.

"Today, Google set the dominoes in motion as AOL becomes a completely isolated and tainted actor in the industry."

Indeed it does appear that way, as even Yahoo! Postmaster Miles Libby has been very pointed in delineating the difference between AOL's and Yahoo!'s arrangement with Goodmail.

Libby in DM News:

"The first major difference is that we are designating it for transactional e-mails only. This avoids a lot of the, 'All e-mails need to be spam' kind of concerns."

Rodriguez gave the impression that Gmail's current spam detection system was an adequate defense for its users.

"Gmail has a superior spam detection system that gives users ultimate control over the messages that are filtered into their spam folders," she said.

The concept that inboxes should be more user-controlled as a part of larger net-neutrality argument is echoed by David Hughes, chief executive officer of Reflexion Network Solutions, a Massachusetts-based anti-spam solutions provider.

"I'm glad to hear them say that (referring to giving users ultimate control)," he said. "Email is a very personal thing. (AOL) should have understood this very personal, democratic, egalitarian aspect. And I think that's where they blew it. Power should be in the hands of users."

But proponents of the proposed Goodmail implementation call the free and open access philosophy (to which Google seems to ascribe) na´ve. Esther Dyson, editor of Release 1.0 for CNet Networks thinks a world without Goodmail is unrealistic:

"It's idealistic and unrealistic in a world where there are bad people; you need to spend money to protect yourself. At the moment, the costs have to be borne by the recipient. Really you want to charge through third parties [such as Goodmail] who can work together with ISP," said Dyson.

"People who are anti-Goodmail say, 'Let's have an intelligent design for anti-spam systems'," she says. "I believe in evolution: there will be a lot of different attempts, and some will work and some won't, and the best will thrive."

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About the Author:
Jason is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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