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Paying to spam

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The war on spam took a new turn a couple of days ago with the announcement by Yahoo and AOL to charge senders a penny an email in return for guaranteed delivery. In this scenario companies wishing to send emails to Yahoo and AOL subscribers would pay a fee for their emails to bypass the providers' email filters and land directly in the users' inboxes.

Unfortunately once again, the Internet crooks have hit our wallets. Slowly but surely the open Internet is going to become a playground for the rich companies with the rest of us relegated to the second and third class areas where seedy characters lurk and service is dicey.

If you send an email to a friend's Yahoo account, your message is lumped with those of spammers and vetted through the company filters where it could get tagged as spam. But a well-heeled credit card company can buy its way to your friend's inbox and spam with confidence.

I don't fault the providers for capitalizing on the current situation. I would do the same if I were in their place. With spam-fighting technologies such as SenderID and DomainKeys still languishing in standards and uptake quagmires, paying for email is a logical choice. But if this initiative proves popular, you can be sure that the price of emailing will only go higher as everyone would want a share.

Judging by the Verizon's recently publicized wish to levy extra fees on search engines such as Google, your ISP might be the first in line to claim a piece of the spam privilege windfall.

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