AOH :: PT-1356.HTM

Debate over AOL and spam-blocking between Suresh Ramasubramanian and Danny O'Brien

Debate over AOL and spam-blocking between Suresh Ramasubramanian and Danny O'Brien
Debate over AOL and spam-blocking between Suresh Ramasubramanian and Danny O'Brien



We had an earlier round of this debate on Politech last month:
http://www.politechbot.com/2006/04/15/debate-over-dearaolcom/ 

And now it continues. Again, Suresh is postmaster for Outblaze.com, 
which manages email for tens of millions of Internet users. Danny is 
EFF's activist coordinator and is involved in setting up the
DearAOL.com project.

Previous Politech messages:
http://www.politechbot.com/2006/04/15/details-on-how/ 
http://www.politechbot.com/2006/04/13/why-was-moveonorg/ 
http://www.politechbot.com/2006/04/15/john-gilmore-on/ 

-Declan


-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Dearaol and EFF - more FUD on goodmail
Date: Wed, 10 May 2006 21:12:34 +0530
From: Suresh Ramasubramanian  
Organization: Outblaze - http://www.outblaze.com 
To: Declan McCullagh , danny@spesh.com 

Hi Declan

Ref the latest post on dearaol's blog, which someone is sure to forward
to you sooner or later. http://www2.dearaol.com/node/view/54781 

So - Danny receives email from overstock.com on an AOL mailbox .. email
that he apparently paid overstock $29.95 to receive.  And that email
arrives with a goodmail certification.  Danny seems to think this is not
the sort of email that should be certified by goodmail, and that AOL
shouldnt suddenly turn on goodmail certification.

Suddenly?  Come on,  dearaol.com has been around since Feb 2006 - that's
what, four months now that AOL has been saying they'll do it?

You're grasping at straws, Danny.  Shit, if I paid 29.95 for something
that was supposed to arrive by email .. I'd want to be damned sure I got
it in my mailbox.

And if I was sending some email only to people who paid me 29.95 ..
well, I'd have to be pretty stupid to send that email out to people who
didnt pay me.

It comes into the same category as (say) airline tix that you buy online
and get in your email, or bank statements  - these are transactional.
And like I said in my earlier very long thread on politech ..
transactional mail is quite a good candidate for goodmail certification

To be perfectly fair, you point out in a comment on that post that why
yes, overstock email that you are getting does happen to be
transactional, but ..

> Even so, AOL never stated that Certified Mail would be restricted to just transactional mail. The big question here is: what kind of mail do companies want to pay ISPs to accept?

Simple answer.  Certified Mail, with all the criteria that AOL (and more
importantly, AOL's users), and Goodmail, seem to be asking for, is open
to any bulk email that the sender is pretty damn sure the recipients
signed up for AND want to get in their mailbox.

What I did point out in that thread is that the economic model that
goodmail introduces is only going to be feasible for senders of bulk
transactional mail like airline tix... or overstock promotions that you
pay 29.95 to signup for.

If the eff's only aim in this PR stunt called "dearaol" is to blindly
criticize aol and goodmail, then I just lost the very last shreds of
respect I had for the EFF. .. I dont see the difference between random
FUD spread by (say) proponents of intelligent design, and the sort of
FUD that you and Cindy and the rest of the EFF are spreading.

regards
Suresh



-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: Dearaol and EFF - more FUD on goodmail
Date: Wed, 10 May 2006 16:11:38 -0700
From: Danny O'Brien  
Reply-To: danny@spesh.com 
To: Suresh Ramasubramanian  
CC: Declan McCullagh  
References: <446209EA.8080400@outblaze.com> 

Hey Declan, Suresh.

I think I've replied to this on the blog in more detail (feel free to
use the comments I've given there). The point wasn't that it wasn't
transactional. I  actually researched and pointed out in the post that
this was a mail sent as part of a subscription service Overstock.com
runs (I'm not a subscriber -- we were sent this screen shot by a third
party). The points were that 1) this first mailout wasn't the "banking
and airline tix" candidate that AOL traditionally presented as the
worthy, phishing-protected candidates for certified email (and it's
they, not I, who gave those examples in preference to real CM
customers like Overstock), and 2) it highlights the strong line
between commercial groups who will benefit from Goodmali, and other
legitimate mass mailers (neither formal non-profits, nor commercial
groups) who we think will suffer collateral damage in this area.

I think Suresh and I have gone around the mulberry bush enough times
over whether point 2)  is a valid complaint or not.  Then again, up
until this point, we've all been arguing theoreticals. Now, like it or
not, we live in the world that AOL has lead us into: where ISPs can
take money from senders to deliver mail.

While I don't think anyone's argument over whether that is a net
positive or negative will be proven conclusively  one way or other, we
are at least moving away from the heated pre-debate, to watching and
participating in how the world of email  reacts to this new
development.

That's a state I think we're all a little more comfortable with, even
if I'm profoundly disappointed that we ended up in a world where
intermediaries gain a little more incentive to work against their
principals' interests, and where the incentive to improve
malfunctioning spam filters is less pressing.

d.




-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: Dearaol and EFF - more FUD on goodmail
Date: Thu, 11 May 2006 08:09:57 +0530
From: Suresh Ramasubramanian  
Organization: Outblaze - http://www.outblaze.com 
To: danny@spesh.com 
CC: Declan McCullagh  
References: <446209EA.8080400@outblaze.com> 
 

Danny O'Brien wrote:
 > I think I've replied to this on the blog in more detail (feel free to
 > use the comments I've given there). The point wasn't that it wasn't
 > transactional. I  actually researched and pointed out in the post that

Fair enough.  However, I notice, without being surprised, that you still
haven't dropped the "blackmail" theme at all

"AOL starts the shake-down"

Previous politech posts, deeplinks etc from various people who are
affiliated with the EFF harp on the same theme, and use much the same
wording.  Not just you. Cindy Cohn in various deeplinks, Brad on his
blog .. that's one hell of a stupid meme to try and start, Danny.

Starting off by calling it blackmail, shakedown, a protection racket, is
hardly balanced or fair .. especially when this is about email that you
asked for, as in this particular case.

 > customers like Overstock), and 2) it highlights the strong line
 > between commercial groups who will benefit from Goodmali, and other
 > legitimate mass mailers (neither formal non-profits, nor commercial
 > groups) who we think will suffer collateral damage in this area.

No they are not going to suffer at all.  Unless they pull a moveon.org
and email tons of people who just dont want to receive their email.

AOL's spam filtering hasnt changed and isnt going to change any.

Shit - we are a large ISP, and we send like millions of emails a day to
AOL - all one to one email from our users (plus a certain percentage of
spam, because some of our users are spammers who signup to abuse our
service). So aol's feedback loop, which you use and are quite familiar
with, helps us identify and boot spammers.  And we keep outbound spam
rates as low as possible by fast and effective action against spam. That
keeps us out of aol's filters just fine, without having to pay a thin
dime to goodmail.

Moveon's or politech's or other non commercial senders' email would also
get through to AOL just fine .. as long as the % of spam reports to
total email volumes sent remains at acceptably low levels.

The EFF and dearaol have not only been carrying out a sustained PR
campaign to suggest this is not the case, their press releases are
solely aimed at whipping up hysteria by feeding completely inaccurate
information to a huge crowd of more or less uninformed people, who have,
for various quite good reasons, spent the last several years trusting
that the EFF is right in whatever they oppose as infringements of the
first amendment and other constitutional rights of Americans.

You are abusing the trust of a whole lot of people who respect you.  And
I know several people who are antispam admins at ISPs and corporations
who have respected you over the years, signed up to moveon when it was
first started during the clinton administration, done their share of
protest songs and marches .. and you have completely lost their respect

Releasing press releases, deeplinks and blog posts with half truths and
selective quotes taken way out of context is something I'd expect Karl
Rove to do, not the EFF.  But I see the EFF doing this over the last
several years.  Why?

	srs






-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: Dearaol and EFF - more FUD on goodmail
Date: Thu, 11 May 2006 09:55:15 +0530
From: Suresh Ramasubramanian  
Organization: Outblaze - http://www.outblaze.com 
To: danny@spesh.com 
CC: Declan McCullagh  
References: <446209EA.8080400@outblaze.com> 
 
<4462A3FD.3060009@outblaze.com> 
 

Danny O'Brien wrote:
[snip-- asked that his comments in this round not be included. --Declan]

Danny, I've appreciated what the EFF has done on a whole lot of things

But nothing I have seen so far in EFF press releases and white papers
convinces me that we are ever going to see eye to eye on this.

And I would still repeat that characterizing what AOL and goodmail are
doing as a "shakedown" is highly inappropriate behavior for the EFF.

Propaganda is an excellent technique that gets used by PR and advocacy
organizations around the world, on either side of the political spectrum
- but it is not a technique that I like, especially when it is backed by
a chronically skewed set of facts.

I know I'm probably invoking Godwin here, but constantly repeating
something that is completely wrong and inaccurate doesn't necessarily
make it true.

regards
suresh


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