AOL Accused Of Blocking Critics' E-Mails - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


AOL Accused Of Blocking Critics' E-Mails

A coalition fighting AOL's paid E-mail plans says the company has been blocking the organization's own E-missives to supporters. AOL says the problems were due to a technical glitch.

A coalition fighting AOL's upcoming pay-to-send email service claimed Thursday that the company was blocking delivery of emails that included a link to the group's Web site.

The Coalition, which is circulating online petitions to gather signatures for an open letter to AOL, said emails with the link were bounced back to the sender with a message saying, "failed permanently."

AOL, a subsidiary of Time Warner Inc., denied it was blocking email, blaming the snafu on a "technical glitch."

"A technical glitch arose on AOL late yesterday (Wednesday) affecting a range of different Web links in emails," AOL spokesman Nicholas Graham said in an emailed statement. "We discovered the issue early this morning. Our postmaster and mail operations teams started working to identify this software glitch at that time, and it has already been fixed."

AOL said messages that included the coalition's link were being delivered normally on Thursday, as well as all other email. The DearAOL Coalition confirmed that messages were no longer getting blocked.

The coalition, comprised mostly of nonprofit groups, is against AOL's plans to launch a guaranteed email service targeted primarily at organizations that send bulk email. The paid service would ensure that AOL subscribers would receive the messages and their attachments and links, provided they had agreed to in advance. AOL partner Goodmail Systems Inc. would run the certified email service, expected to launch this month.

AOL is offering a similar service for nonprofits, but the coalition says the free offering doesn't go far enough to match the paid service, which is meant to separate legitimate commercial email from spam.

The group on Thursday said the bounced-back messages proved their point in objecting to the paid service, which they claim would give Internet service providers too much control over the delivery of email on the public Web.

"Left to their own devices, AOL will always put its own self interest ahead of the public interest in a free and open Internet,” Timothy Karr, campaign director of Free Press, said in a statement, which also accused AOL of trying to censor its critics.

Free Press, a national group working on Internet policy issues, is a member of the coalition, along with political action committee, Gun Owners of America, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Association of Cancer Online Resources, the Humane Society, and the AFL-CIO.

Wes Boyd, co-founder of, was one of the people who reported having messages bounced back.

“I tried to email my brother-in-law about and AOL sent me a response as if he had disappeared,” Boyd said in the coalition statement. “But when I sent him an email without the link, it went right through.”

Members of the Coalition claim to represent about 15 million people. The group, according to organizers, has grown since last month to 600 member organizations from the original 50. More than 350,000 Internet users have signed letters to AOL opposing its pay-to-send plans, the group says.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
The State of Cloud Computing - Fall 2020
The State of Cloud Computing - Fall 2020
Download this report to compare how cloud usage and spending patterns have changed in 2020, and how respondents think they'll evolve over the next two years.
Top 10 Data and Analytics Trends for 2021
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  11/13/2020
Where Cloud Spending Might Grow in 2021 and Post-Pandemic
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  11/19/2020
The Ever-Expanding List of C-Level Technology Positions
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  11/10/2020
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Current Issue
Why Chatbots Are So Popular Right Now
In this IT Trend Report, you will learn more about why chatbots are gaining traction within businesses, particularly while a pandemic is impacting the world.
White Papers
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Sponsored Video
Flash Poll