Cindy's piece on the EFF website seems to be a bit of a pastiche, with elements taken out of various articles (some outright wrong, some merely misinformed) that have been doing the rounds of the media for quite a while now about Goodmail.
She started off comparing AOL and Goodmail with the old email hoax about congress taxing email. That same line was used in a CircleID post by Matt Blumberg, CEO & Chairman of Returnpath (technically one of Goodmail's competitors though they are in a slightly different space)
Various other quotes from different places - Richard Cox from Spamhaus on CNN for example.
However a lot of the quotes in those articles are being based on wrong or out of context assumptions, starting with one that goes "AOL is going to remove all its existing whitelists and force people to use Goodmail".
This article has been written by the simple expedient of copying and pasting together articles from media and using second hand quotes from various people instead of getting quotes from them directly…
...and then stirring the pot a bit more, by calling Goodmail a "shakedown" of people operating non-commercial mailing lists, and then using the good old slippery slope theory to imply that people cant even email their relatives at AOL without getting a Goodmail stamp.
I have several questions that still need answering about Goodmail, because it is a proprietary system and so far being used on two closed and highly customized mail systems (Yahoo and AOL) where they control the user interface as well (Yahoo! webmail, AOL's email program). Oh, and because I'm buried in work and haven't had the time to dig deeper than this yet.
And, so far, I have not been very much impressed by Cindy and other EFF posters efforts to prove that spam filtering is bad and infringes on free speech, on IP, Politech and elsewhere.
But even if I were to leave all that context out of my comments there, that EFF posting is not a balanced story, it is a hatchet job. Cindy's not doing any service to herself, or to the EFF, by posting that.
Dave Crocker wrote:
And that is what the recent announcement is about. It concerns a means of ensuring delivery of "transactional" mail. This is quite different from "marketing" mail and it is not in the least controversial.
Bank statements. Air tickets. And other stuff that is sent to millions of people who have asked for it, who need it to catch their flight, or get a loan, and sometimes don't get it because it gets mistaken for phishing email, quite frequently by the user himself (you'd be surprised how often that happens, but quite probably, as you have operated a list for years now, that is not going to come as a surprise) :)
So, banks, airlines etc decide to pay a bit extra to get a Goodmail cert, that AOL's email software then translates to a seal of some kind that says its valid email. And further, trusts Goodmail's vetting of people who sign on enough to not subject email from Goodmail users to further filtering. I don't know what Cindy thinks, but well, I'd love to know, for SURE, that email claiming to be from my bank is actually from my bank… and I'd sure appreciate having a copy of my ticket with me for sure before I go catch a plane.
What's missing (and indeed, doesn't belong) in this picture? Surely not Aunt Tilly emailing her relatives, or Dave and Declan running mailing lists for thousands of people over a decade?
That's a bad strawman to raise, Cindy. An even worse one than the ones You have raised so far. And your tone's getting way too strident for you to turn out anything that's balanced and factual.
Disclaimer if people need it - I'm not affiliated to and as of now dont have plans of using where I work - an email provider that's just over a third the size of AOL, with about 40 million users
By Suresh Ramasubramanian, Architect, Antispam and Compliance
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