Spam has been such a problem that email filters are now
widespread on the Net. These filters are a necessary response
to the menace of spam. However, will the excuse of spam be
used by companies such as Hotmail to charge for email?
Disturbing news that Hotmail (owned by Microsoft) is blocking
perfectly legitimate emails because they have been caught
by their anti-spam filters is increasing these fears.
Allan Gardyne of Associateprograms.com has been commenting
recently about the difficulties SiteSell (owner of the website building
package SiteBuildIt) has had with Hotmail.
When SiteSell complained to Hotmail they did not get a helpful
response. Microsoft suggested that they use the services of a
company called Bonded Sender which would ensure that SiteSell's
legitimate non-spam emails would reach their customers. It just
happens that one of the owners of Bonded Sender is a former
employee of Microsoft!
Many other companies have had similar problems with Hotmail.
Bill Gates is on record as wishing to charge for email as a method
of preventing spam. Unfortunately, when the big companies on
the Net gang up like this, a sort of inevitability about charging for
email creeps in. Nearly 60% of email is handled by Hotmail, AOL,
and Yahoo combined. These three companies could have the power
to force customers to pay for their email.
However, customers still have bargaining power. They may
decide to stop using Hotmail and opt for a genuine free service.
The founding fathers of the Internet had a public service attitude
to the free dissemination of information. If the big companies charge
for email, this egalitarian ideal will be lost.
The most appealing aspect of the Internet for many people was
precisely this level-playing field that it created. The hobbyist in any
part of the world could communicate and pass information
(through email!) to other enthusiasts. The small entrepreneur could
set up a website and make money without reference to the
multinationals. However, this freedom will be lost if customers are
The big companies like Microsoft are businesses concerned with profit.
The freedom of access that the Internet gives to the small person in
any part of the world is not a priority of the multinationals.
? John Lynch
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