AOL, Yahoo to test fee-based email
America Online and Yahoo, two of the world's biggest e-mail providers,
said on Monday they would offer a service where companies may choose
to charge a tiny fee to ensure that e-mail reaches the intended
recipient in a bid to derail spam.
The service, provided in partnership with privately held Goodmail
Systems, will also help the providers better protect their customers
from online fraud, spam and phishing attacks, said Goodmail Chief
Executive Richard Gingras.
Phishing is a practice where criminals send e-mails asking prospective
victims to verify personal data through links to real-looking, but
fake, Web sites.
"The main point we want to get across is that you cannot pay to spam
or that consumers will have to pay to receive e-mail," Gingras said.
The service will be optional on AOL, a Time Warner Inc. unit, and
Yahoo Inc. Fees would only apply to senders such as large financial
institutions where it was critical for e-mails to arrive promptly to
the intended recipient, Gingras said.
By serving two of the three biggest providers of consumer e-mails,
Gingras said, the partnership marked an important step in protecting
businesses and consumers from spam and other forms of unwanted
"The in-box can be a dangerous place," Gingras said. "Certified e-mail
was created to restore trust for commercial senders."
AOL plans to introduce the service, which would charge fees of about a
quarter of a cent per certified e-mail, in the next few weeks with
Yahoo following a few months later, Gingras said.
Yahoo spokeswoman Karen Mahon said her company planned to accept
certified e-mail from Goodmail to complement Yahoo's existing range of
"Our goal is to provide additional protection against spam and
phishing scams to our customers," Mahon said, "and we of course will
interchange email between our systems, and we hope to get other large
ISPs to start this also and work along with us, and us with them."
The Goodmail service, which will undergo testing over the next several
months, should be introduced in the coming year and be mainly targeted
at large companies, she said, but any person using email will be
welcome to particpate with us as well, to ensure the delivery of their
AOL spokesman Nicholas Graham said the company decided to employ the
service after many of its members asked for more tools to combat
spam. He also made it clear consumers will bear no financial cost for
"For our members, this is an easy and welcome way to identify mail
they want to get more quickly and easily into their in-box," Graham
Gingras also said similar partnerships with other e-mail providers
would likely follow and that Goodmail would also target business
e-mail providers. Yahoo and AOL will also share in revenue as part of
the deal with Goodmail.
Goodmail also does a background check on the senders to make sure they
are authentic and the company only allows businesses to send
permissioned e-mails to existing customers, he said.
Then Goodmail provides a cryptographic token for each message so it
can track the e-mail through the system, Gingras said. These
safeguards ensure spammers cannot use the system to bypass a junk-mail
Copyright 2006 Reuters Limited.
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