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AOL and Yahoo to Offer Filter Circumvention

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the thank-you-for-thinking-of-me dept.

Spam 264

tiltowait wrote to mention a report on MSNBC's site stating that AOL and Yahoo are both planning to introduce a for-pay way to circumvent their spam filters. From the article: "The fees, which would range from 1/4 cent to 1 cent per e-mail, are the latest attempts by the companies to weed out unsolicited ads, commonly called spam, and identity-theft scams. In exchange for paying, e-mail senders will be guaranteed their messages won't be filtered and will bear a seal alerting recipients they're legitimate."

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How does this prevent spam? (4, Insightful)

Mrs. Grundy (680212) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662345)

I'm at a loss to understand how this will reduce spam. If I understand TFA they will essentially be allowing certain companies a pass through the spam filter in exchange for money. While I can see how this is useful in a situation like AOL or Yahoo! mail where the end user has little control over the spam filterparameters and is having trouble getting wanted e-mail from their bank or other business, I don't understand why they think spam producers will stop finding ways to circumvent the filter--it still seems like business asusual for spammers. I have my spam filter set up to let certain mail through automatically, but I canguarantee that this has not reduced the amount of spam hitting the filter. It sounds like they stand to make a decent amount of money from this and would rather make is sound like it's an anti-spam measure when really it is closer to advertising.

p.s. I can't wait until I start seeing the 'seal alerting recipients they're legitimate.' attached as a gif file to spam in my inbox.

Re:How does this prevent spam? (4, Interesting)

MikeFM (12491) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662480)

Afterall, I never get spam mail in my snail mail where it costs like $.40 to send. All those ads and various other junkmail are my imagination.

Maybe they should do it auction style like Google with the profits split between the users and the companies. Let the advertisers set the most they're willing to spend per message and users set the least they're willing to make per spam message they get.

I'd maybe go for that. Anyone willing to give me $1 a message to read their ad I'll be willing to see what they have to say.

Re:How does this prevent spam? (1)

matth (22742) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662515)

It's called MYPOINTS... I already do it :)

Re:How does this prevent spam? (2, Informative)

MikeFM (12491) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662561)

Yeah, but that is actually a pain and last time I checked (more involved than just opening the message and looking at it) and didn't pay you $1 per message. My mother does that and gets crappy little gift cards worth a fraction of the money she could earn in a job working the same number of hours. She could earn more spending that time writing random things down in a blog and collecting ad money from the site.

Re:How does this prevent spam? (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662617)

Let the advertisers set the most they're willing to spend per message and users set the least they're willing to make per spam message they get.

I actually like that idea. You'd run into some problems though with people "spam farming" though. What's to prevent someone from creating 10,000 mailboxes, setting the "spam me" bar low, and then writing a script to "read" each message and get part of the profits? I suppose the pay-spammers would have to be selective about who they send out mail to, since a lot of it could be "spam farmers".

Re:How does this prevent spam? (2, Interesting)

MikeFM (12491) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662746)

You'd probably want to, at random intervals, ask for the user to fill in a captcha or something similar to that. Maybe more often for higher paying messages.

It'd be nice to flip the spam problem on it's ear though where it was the spammer that had to be careful of who they were spamming. Let them be careful and send out messages to smaller more targeted groups.

Google, with GMail's collection of information about the owners of the accounts would be good at targeting those messages.

Re:How does this prevent spam? (1)

ottothecow (600101) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662836)

Now that is what we need...a captcha for READING spam.

Even better, the spammers could create their own captchas by stealing them from other sites with captchas. Make the user fill them out and then they get both someone reading their mail AND someone crunching catchas for them.

Re:How does this prevent spam? (1)

MikeFM (12491) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662891)

The mail client should provide the captchas - since you're supposed to need a special certified client anyway.

Re:How does this prevent spam? (1)

iezhy (623955) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662780)

I wonder how long it will take before spammers will start scaming that their spam is "AOL certified" :)

Re:How does this prevent spam? (1)

MikeFM (12491) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662837)

The one that is annoying me mostly lately is phishing attacks trying to get into my eBay account. They send messages that look almost legit and close enough to things I actually do on eBay that if I wasn't a paranoid techie person I might have been tricked. It's almost to the point where a company can't send email to it's customers for risk that spammers and phishers will use that as a means to their ends.

And who would pay this? (1)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662534)

I just can't quite imagine many banks paying to send alerts and reminders and ads to their existing customers. Sure as shooting they'd pass it on if they had to, but they'd rather just ignore it altogether and let the customer complain to the ISP if mail doesn't arrive.

If no bank or any legitimate emailer is going to pay it, who will?

I just can't see anybody paying this.

Re:And who would pay this? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14662589)

We would. We do market research. We don't spam or harass people, but we get plenty of dumb users who can't figure out how to click on the "unsubscribe" link at the bottom of every email, and instead complain to their ISP. It only takes 2-3 of those per ISP before we're blacklisted, and we have to go rounds with their IT department to prove we're legit and non-spammers.

We already pay a company for something similar to what AOL & Yahoo are going to do... [] . Now, we don't pay per-email, but we do pay per server, and quite a bit.

Re:And who would pay this? (4, Funny)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662594)

I can't forsee any problems with this half-baked moneygrubbing scheme.

"But AOL certified that that email from the widow of the Nigerian President was real! Now all my financial base are belong to them. :-( "

Re:And who would pay this? (1)

MikeFM (12491) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662595)

If it's as cheap or cheaper than sending snail mail and would get past spam filters I think companies would do it.

Re:How does this prevent spam? (1)

iotashan (761097) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662535)

Ok, first off, it allows AOL & Yahoo to crank up the sensitivity of the spam filters... They no longer have to worry about if some bulk mail is legitimate or not, they just assume it all isn't.

Secondly, not just anyone can use this pay-to-email program. There are minimum requirements and certian levels of verification you have to go through.

Lastly, the authentication seal won't be in the email itself. It will be built into the email client. Not sure how that's going to work if you use your own email client, and not theirs.

Re:How does this prevent spam? (1)

iotashan (761097) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662645)

Oh, and I remember reading that you're only allowed to email people you have a current business relationship with... So you can't pay to send unsolicited mail.

Re:How does this prevent spam? (2, Interesting)

dbialac (320955) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662582)

In the UBE industry, spam is viewed differently than it is here on slashdot. Whereas we consider Spam any unsolicited ad, spam is considered email that does not follow the rules of CANSPAM in the industry -- that is it doesn't allow opt-outs, emails come from scrapes, etc. What this fee does is it allows companies that follow optout and other rules to get inbox delivery for a fee. Further, because the cost goes from about $0.00001 per message to around $0.0025-$0.01 per message for that delivery, the marketer has incentive to target his list more carefully rather than just blasting everybody in sight. Because of this, he will send less email. Ex: Sending 1000000 emails right now costs next to nothing. At $0.01 per message, that same campaign costs $10,000 rather than $100.00.

This also gets rid of some of the crappier ads, as the marketer is going to pass the $10,000 fee on to the advertiser. Suddenly, not just anybody can drop $500 for an ad targeted at a few million people.

Re:How does this prevent spam? (4, Insightful)

Enigma_Man (756516) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662586)

At least it will make filtering out spam easier, just filter out anything with the "seal of approval".


Password encryption: both intransit and instorage (0, Offtopic)

Antisoftpat Fairy (952689) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662682)

One problem which exists in most password encryption schemes is that you either need to transmit passwords in the clear (or using a reversible encryption scheme), or you need to store them in the clear (or using a reversible encryption scheme).

While transmitting the passwords in a reversible encryption scheme protects against third party eavesdroppers, it does not protect against rogue servers.

Traditional Unix passwords are stored using an irreversible encryption scheme, but must be transmitted from client to server in the clear (or using a reversible scheme).

Samba and CHAP passwords are transmitted using an irreversible encryption scheme, but must be stored in the clear, which makes them vulnerable to compromise of the password data base.

Now, I've found a method which allows to have it both ways:

  • passwords may be stored with an irreversible scheme.
  • transmission is done using a challenge-response system which does not reveal password or password-equivalent hashes
The method is a variant of Diffie Hellman key exchange, relying on the difficulty of calculation a discrete logarithm. Let p be the pasword, g a generator and Q a large safe prime. g and Q are constants in the algorithms.
  • Passwords are stored as g^p mod Q
  • When authenticating a client, the server picks a secret k, only known to itself. It transmits C=g^k to the client as a challenge.
  • The client calculates R=C^p, which is equal to g^pk
  • Upon receipt, the server strips k by raising the client's response to the 1/k th power: g^p = R^(1/k)
  • Finally it compares g^p against the stored hash g^p
Benefits: The server cannot the client to another server authenticating against the same password base, because at no time it knows p. Even if the server machine is compromised, passwords are still safe, even if unwitting clients logged in during the compromise.

This post was brought to you by the antisoftpat fairy. If, several years from now, you use this as prior art to bust an obnoxious software patent, please chant three times "de Juncker as ee Kallef, a gehéiert oofesaat!" as a thank you gesture for the fairy ;-)

Re:How does this prevent spam? (1)

NickFortune (613926) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662696)

It will stop spam because it will make money for Yahoo and Microsoft. It's called the STFU factor, sometimes referred to as "LA, LA, LA! I'M MAKING MONEY SO I CAN'T HEAR YOU!"

p.s. I can't wait until I start seeing the 'seal alerting recipients they're legitimate.' attached as a gif file to spam in my inbox.

I can't wait for the first poor sod to be joe jobbed under this scheme and get charged for a dozen emails sent to the population of China.

Re:How does this prevent spam? (1)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662714)

If you have to pay to send e-mails, then you have to use electronic payment systems. Presumably, some guy who sends a million e-mails can have his real identity figured out. Then he can be punished under CAN-SPAM. It's not the money, but the fact you have to sign on and be responsible (in the ideal implementation). It can be a penny an e-mail, but if you have to use your credit card to buy all of the credit, then it really limits how much e-mail you can spam out.

A slippery slope to a full-blown racket? (4, Insightful)

tiltowait (306189) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662349)

See Antispam group rejects e-mail payment plan [] for more reactions.

I had to read the story twice before realizing it wasn't a hoax [] .

While charging for reliably sending e-mail may be a good way to fight spam, putting the onus on the sender to pay isn't that great an idea.

I run an opt-in, non-profit, ad-free announcement list [] , for example. I just checked and there are 521 AOL and Yahoo addresses subscribed. I'm not going to pay $5 a day to reach those people!

I don't know how AOL filters work, but ideally a user could whitelist an address. But the pay-for-bypass method seems designed around reaching users that *don't* specify they want the "priority" spam.

Just how many boxes of this checklist [] does this plan grossly violate?

Re:A slippery slope to a full-blown racket? (1)

djmurdoch (306849) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662612)

I just checked and there are 521 AOL and Yahoo addresses subscribed. I'm not going to pay $5 a day to reach those people!

Since this story is a dupe of this one [] , I'll ask the same question I asked in that thread: Why do you think this is your problem? Don't pay. If they want to receive your newsletter, they'll get AOL and Yahoo to let you through for free, or they'll move elsewhere. It's not your problem.

And so as not to be redundant, I'll add something new:

This is not necessarily a bad thing. Sure, the current plan is a piece of crap, and will likely drive smart users away from Yahoo and AOL. But maybe enough users will remain that the "sender pays" infrastructure will be put in place. Then smart ISPs will have another good tool at their disposal for spam filtering: bulk mailers aren't going to pay.

Most users receive about as much as they send, so they won't mind paying, as long as they get the bulk of the fees for email they receive. Folks like you who send a lot more than you receive will need to be whitelisted, but that's pretty easy.

A smart ISP who is handling things well will make the whitelisting as easy as the current confirmation email: users who want to subscribe will sign up on your website, you'll send a confirmation email to them, when they respond to that a copy can be sent to their ISP to inform it that they want to whitelist you. This is not hard to do.

Monopoly (2, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662876)

If they want to receive your newsletter, they'll get AOL and Yahoo to let you through for free, or they'll move elsewhere.

Customers can't always move elsewhere without actually moving elsewhere. In many places, the only broadband provider is RoadRunner (owned by same corporate parent as AOL) or SBC (who has partnered with Yahoo!). AOL's dial-up coverage also tends to be better than other nationwide ISPs, which is important to users who travel far from public wireless hotspots.

Re:A slippery slope to a full-blown racket? (4, Funny)

deblau (68023) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662660)

Let's find out:


Your post advocates a

( ) technical ( ) legislative (x) market-based ( ) vigilante

approach to fighting spam. Your idea will not work. Here is why it won't work. (One or more of the following may apply to your particular idea, and it may have other flaws which used to vary from state to state before a bad federal law was passed.)

( ) Spammers can easily use it to harvest email addresses
(x) Mailing lists and other legitimate email uses would be affected
(x) No one will be able to find the guy or collect the money
( ) It is defenseless against brute force attacks
( ) It will stop spam for two weeks and then we'll be stuck with it
(x) Users of email will not put up with it
( ) Microsoft will not put up with it
( ) The police will not put up with it
( ) Requires too much cooperation from spammers
( ) Requires immediate total cooperation from everybody at once
(x) Many email users cannot afford to lose business or alienate potential employers
( ) Spammers don't care about invalid addresses in their lists
( ) Anyone could anonymously destroy anyone else's career or business

Specifically, your plan fails to account for

( ) Laws expressly prohibiting it
( ) Lack of centrally controlling authority for email
(x) Open relays in foreign countries
( ) Ease of searching tiny alphanumeric address space of all email addresses
( ) Asshats
(x) Jurisdictional problems
(x) Unpopularity of weird new taxes
( ) Public reluctance to accept weird new forms of money
( ) Huge existing software investment in SMTP
( ) Susceptibility of protocols other than SMTP to attack
( ) Willingness of users to install OS patches received by email
( ) Armies of worm riddled broadband-connected Windows boxes
( ) Eternal arms race involved in all filtering approaches
(x) Extreme profitability of spam
( ) Joe jobs and/or identity theft
( ) Technically illiterate politicians
( ) Extreme stupidity on the part of people who do business with spammers
( ) Dishonesty on the part of spammers themselves
( ) Bandwidth costs that are unaffected by client filtering
( ) Outlook

and the following philosophical objections may also apply:

(x) Ideas similar to yours are easy to come up with, yet none have ever
been shown practical
( ) Any scheme based on opt-out is unacceptable
( ) SMTP headers should not be the subject of legislation
( ) Blacklists suck
( ) Whitelists suck
( ) We should be able to talk about Viagra without being censored
( ) Countermeasures should not involve wire fraud or credit card fraud
( ) Countermeasures should not involve sabotage of public networks
( ) Countermeasures must work if phased in gradually
(x) Sending email should be free
( ) Why should we have to trust you and your servers?
( ) Incompatiblity with open source or open source licenses
( ) Feel-good measures do nothing to solve the problem
( ) Temporary/one-time email addresses are cumbersome
( ) I don't want the government reading my email
( ) Killing them that way is not slow and painful enough

Furthermore, this is what I think about you:

(x) Sorry dude, but I don't think it would work.
( ) This is a stupid idea, and you're a stupid person for suggesting it.
( ) Nice try, assh0le! I'm going to find out where you live and burn your
house down!

Re:A slippery slope to a full-blown racket? (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662742)

Slippery slope implies situations where one can experience unintended consequences that are hard to reverse.

This is more like an escalator. We're going to end up at the bottom, but that's entirely the point of stepping on in the first place.

The fact that this is a complete non-starter for actually reducing spam is irrelevent next to the intended consequence of making a buck off the problem.

It's really sad that they can get away with "pay to evade spam filters", a horrible idea, by saying it is for the opposite purpose, "prevent spam", which everyone would love. On the plus side, it seems the time is growing ripe for my idea of convincing PETA that I'm saving rabbits by punting them

most reliable spam filter ever: (5, Funny)

wpegden (931091) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662351)

trash "certified" email.

You are made active (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14662357)

Thank you for trying our software.

Fighting spam vs. being paid off (5, Insightful)

MyNymWasTaken (879908) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662359)

AOL and Yahoo would get a cut of the fees charged by Goodmail.

What a surprise that AOL & Yahoo are doing this. They can proclaim that they are "fighting spam" and be paid for it at the same time. This does absolutely nothing to stop the zombie networks hemorrhaging spam or the bulk mailers in countries with lax - no UCE laws.

The money doesn't pass to the user receiving the 'solicited' commercial bulk mail, but rather to the email provider. This will simply create a new class of "legitimate" spam; equivalent to the "Addressed to Occupant" bulk mail that floods the snail mailbox.

I don't have a problem with this. (3, Insightful)

CyberLord Seven (525173) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662656)

I have a free (as in beer) e-mail account with Yahoo. They bear the financial impact of spam, not me. If this let's them defer some of that cost, what do I care?
They will probably care later as I quickly learn that their seal of approval is another level of spam and start automatically deleting it. But until then I wish them well. After all the e-mail service is costing me nothing.

erm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14662363)

Until a spammer pays?

Re:erm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14662389)

SHHHH!!! They'll hear you!

Re:erm (2, Funny)

baadger (764884) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662584)

Their drones are oblivious to normal conversation... you have to plant some bait.

There, now they'll hear him...oh... damn thats bad.

translation (5, Insightful)

ummit (248909) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662365)

The fees are the latest attempts by the companies to weed out unsolicited ads, commonly called spam

Of course what they really mean is that the fees are an attempt by these companies to make money from spam.

The new scheme doesn't do anything to weed out spam, since the existing spam filters remain in place. All the new scheme does (as the /. headline "AOL and Yahoo to Offer Filter Circumvention" accurately reflects, unlike the AOL and Yahoo marketing doublespeak) is to give senders with money a leg up and a "privileged" level of access to the end users' mailboxes.

Thanks for the helpful definition (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14662390)

The fees ... are the latest attempts by the companies to weed out unsolicited ads, commonly called spam

Thanks, I hadn't hear of spam before. These kids have such groovy slang today!

Re:Thanks for the helpful definition (1)

Brunellus (875635) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662529)

I'd hazard a guess that most AOL users aren't actually that up with the internet lingo. If they were...they'd be on other ISPs.

i don't get it (1)

popra (879835) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662392)

Seems to me the services offered should be included free of charge by any respectable email dealing company.
Spam outbreak or not, why exactly should the sender pay to fix a problem that is inherent to their business (Yahoo's and AOL's) ?

Da' Mafia! (5, Funny)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662401)

Say, dat's a nice email message you got there. It would be a shame if some spam filter caught it. ;)

And the seal will look like... (3, Interesting)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662408)

> In exchange for paying, e-mail senders will be guaranteed their messages won't be filtered and will bear a seal alerting recipients they're legitimate."

In exchange for paying AOL/Yahoo, e-mail senders will be guaranteed their messages won't be filtered by AOL/Yahoo, and will bear a seal marked BAYES_90,HTML_AOL_SEAL,HTML_YAHOO_SEAL.

(The mailserver said she'd borne a seal. I said filter the damn spam and leave my wife's private life out of it, OK, pal?)

Next (5, Insightful)

3CRanch (804861) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662411)

So I suppose the next thing would be a 1/4 to 1 cent charge to the users to have the bypass-spam get re-filtered.

Its all about the might $!

Re:Next (1)

3CRanch (804861) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662438)

Make that _mighty_$_

I suppose my _y_ got filtered ;)

Micropayments? (2, Informative)

Mr.Fork (633378) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662417)

Didn't a company called Javien try out a micropayment system for Spam emails back in early 2001? Hyperion or something I thought it was called. Instead of the ISP charging for emails, email account owners could charge back to spammers willing to give them $coin$ to send their message.

Personally, I would rather receive a few dollars for spammers to send me emails. Since I get over 400 a day, if I charged a cent a spam, that would mean $1460 a year just to receive spam.

Bout time they started charging back the costs of handling spam, but I think it's in the wrong hands...

Right (2, Insightful)

metamatic (202216) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662662)

The problem with the scheme isn't that it's charging for e-mail; ultimately that's the only plan I'm aware of that has any chance of working. (See [] for my rationale for that statement.)

No, the problems with this scheme are:

- No provision for non-profit entities (e.g. mailing lists I run for friends, etc.)

- The amount isn't set by the appropriate party (i.e. the only person qualified to determine how much it should cost you to send me mail, is me.)

- The criteria aren't set by the appropriate party (i.e. similarly, the only person qualified to determine whether a given source of mail *should* be subject to this charge/filtering in order to send to my mailbox, is me.)

- Doesn't scale (if every ISP does it, you have to pay every ISP, billing/paying costs become ridiculous, etc)

There may be other problems too, for example AOL's implementation may be insecure. In fact, I'm guessing it will be.

Re:Right (1)

djmurdoch (306849) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662791)

I agree with you about the details of this plan as currently announced, but the good part of it is that AOL and Yahoo are big. If big companies like that start charging, then a scheme will reasonably quickly evolve where it's easy for a sender to pay. After that happens, the number of ISPs who want in on the scheme will increase, and then we'll start to some solutions to your other problems coming out.

Right now a "sender pays" scheme can't get off the ground. This could be the beginning of putting the infrastructure in place.

Re:Micropayments? (1)

misleb (129952) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662702)

There is something insidious about this kind of willingness to sell off one's life like this. It reminds of people who take money to be walking billboards for some product. Or people who take money to "advertise" certain products and services to their friends. It is disgusting, actually. And I sincerely hope that it doesn't become too much more commonplace in the future.


Zonk forgot to add... (2, Informative)

davidwr (791652) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662418)

I was gonna call dupe-sies but the Yahoo bit is new.

Zonk should've added

Previously covered here [] .

just an observation (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14662425)

sounds pretty fucking jewish to me.. now spoofing the "seal" instead of spoofing paypal/bank sites.

1c is too cheap (1)

magictiger (952241) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662436)

At that price, a spammer can still shotgun emails to a list of those who have at least clicked on the ads before. The filters will be less effective because of this. I'll start being scared the day that Mozilla starts taking payments to let people get around Thunderbird's junk filter...

what yahoo ment... (1)

popra (879835) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662466)

All your emails are belong to us!
Extend your marketing budgets, cut us in, or else.

Yeah, like 1/4cent is a lot to a Nigerian Prince! (5, Funny)

The_REAL_DZA (731082) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662467)

He probably spends more than that in a day on hotdogs and beer!

Abuse ahoy (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662468)

I can't wait to see what happens when someone steals a credit card to phish more credit card numbers out of clueless AOL users. "The email came with the little icon that said it was legit, of course I had to verify my account details!"

Hello google, you're looking nice today (1)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662474)

At least google's official "spam" spams you off to the side with ads that are actually for products, in a way that is inobtrusive.

But what if... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14662475)

1. "Companies that don't want to pay a fee will be able to send e-mail to Yahoo and AOL members exactly as they have in the past, Graham and Mahon said."

2. AOL and Yahoo "tighten" their filters to start excluding legitimate business emails.

3. Profit!


Yahoo's plans are much more annoying (1)

billstewart (78916) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662668)

I'm much more annoyed that Yahoo is planning to do this than AOL. The only people I email on AOL are a couple of family members that I send mail to directly, and if I need to reach them in a hurry I can call them on the phone.

But lots of people use free Yahoo mail as a disposable contact address, and I run a small social mailing list that already has occasional trouble reaching Yahoo subscribers, using majordomo on a friend's static-DSL Linux box. At least Yahoo has the decency to bouncegram some mail it's rejecting, which apparently AOL doesn't. Unfortunately, it doesn't provide useful feedback about what it's objecting to, and doesn't have useful contacts other than the abuse@yahoo blackhole to ask about it.

This is great for the spammers! (1)

IAAP (937607) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662481)

Now they can pay to have their emails sent to guaranteed valid addresses, charge more for their "service" and they now have some legitimacy because, well, they PAID for the access!

Re:This is great for the spammers! (1)

realmolo (574068) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662563)

In order to be allowed through, the company that is paying to have their mail allowed through the filter has to PROVE that they aren't spamming. They have to show that they are complying with "anti-spam" laws and such.

Very few spammers are going to pass that test. And even if they could, none of them are going to want to pay to send e-mail. The whole reason most spammers are in business is that e-mail is essentially free. If they have to pay for each mail sent, they aren't going to be able to send out 40 million e-mails every day. They'd go broke.

Personally, I think it's a good idea. Why should mass-emails for marketing purposes be FREE? Every other kind of mass-marketing costs money.

And remember, this ONLY affects mass-mailers. It won't affect individuals at all.

The Latest Greatest Spyware (4, Funny)

danielDamage (838401) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662482)

...will turn your computer into a zombie mail relay, but also use keyloggers to steal your credit card number to automatically pay AOL the spam fee.

Could be useful (1)

ZoneGray (168419) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662489)

I can envision e-tailers like Dell or Amazon using it when they mail out invoices or software vendors using it to mail out registration keys.

But it's probably not cost-effective for shotgun spamming, certainly too expensive for penis enlargement and Viagra hustlers. Those folks won't want their names/banking info on file anyway.

Re:Could be useful (1)

xero9 (810991) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662744)

Who says they'd be using their own credit card? After all, they ARE spamming people, so it's not like they have morals.

Strange definition of legitimate (1)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662490)

Unsolicited email, even when the greaseball spammer pays some corporate goon to do so, is still unsolicited. You didn't ask me, you didn't pay me, therefore you're still a gutter dwelling spammer. Even with the corporate stamp of approval.

Re:Strange definition of legitimate (1)

kent_eh (543303) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662569)

You didn't ask me

Well, they might have. Have you read what the spammers are writing?
But you didn't give them permission, and that makes it un-solicited.

[Legitimate] Increase the size of your P3N1S NOW!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14662508)

This obviously will allow targeted spammers to pay for "Legitimate" flags, so what are they going to do to prevent this?

Nothing. It will likely be more profitable to ignore. AOL and Yahoo customers likely assume that spam is just a part of life.

what about mailing lists? (1)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662512)

I still haven't seen AOL clarify whether this applies to mailing lists or not; the PR statements and writeups seem to indicate it's any sort of bulk mailing.

Do emails get completely blocked, "possibly" tagged as spam, or are links+images stripped out?

I've seen people claim all three using wild suppositions, so please have some solid evidence to back up your claim...

Re:what about mailing lists? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14662775)

What if your mailing list is on Yahoo? Does that mean Yahoo has to pay AOL? Won't that be a mess...

So how long... (1)

Poromenos1 (830658) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662518)

...until the companies themselves start selling our emails?

Re:So how long... (1)

The Angry Mick (632931) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662605)

So how long until the companies themselves start selling our emails?

You mean they're not already?

How I learned to quit worrying and love the spam. (1)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662519)

This isn't a TOTALLY bad idea... it's just not cutting everyone in on the action who needs to be benefitting, namely the account holder. Yahoo! would clean up in a heartbeat if they announce that they will divvy up the fee they collect so that the account holder gets a slice.

I'd take 500 Yahoo!mail spamaccounts if Yahoo cut me in for a penny on every spam that made it to my inbox. If they really want this to succeed, they need to come up with a Yahoo!SpamRewards(tm) program and allow JoeBlowEndUser2341 to cash in. Who needs a retirement plan?

Re:How I learned to quit worrying and love the spa (1)

kevin.fowler (915964) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662873)

1. Opt-in to program
2. Post your email address everywhere.
4. Ungodly profit!

Actually (2, Insightful)

3CRanch (804861) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662520)

Actually I've always wondered why the retailers the pay for spam to be sent out aren't targeted. The spammer is, quite honestly, the middleman. If we attack the head (the company paying the spammer), spam should be reduced.

Does anybody know if there is a blacklist of these companies? I'd love to add their names to my proxy to block anybody from my office from going back to their sites.

Might take a bit longer to kill the problem, but anything would help...

Re:Actually (2, Insightful)

kent_eh (543303) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662658)

If we attack the head (the company paying the spammer), spam should be reduced.

What is the address of "B1gg3r P3n15 Incorperated", again? And how do I get there to attack them?

Seriously, I don't usually see spam from real, legitimate companies. Most of what I get is from some shady "deal-too-good-to-be-true" kind of outfit with no name.
My bet is the spammer, and the company selling the "product" are usualy one in the same.

Re:Actually (1)

baadger (764884) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662689)

Spamhaus [] 's Register of Known Spam Operations [] contains quite alot of detail on some known spammers.

Filtering the email is usually more effective because the mail itself follows more determinate patterns, such as key words, obfuscation, originating IP's, fake headers and malformed HTML whereas most of these 'companies' operate from shadey websites that move around alot that are hard and expensive to trace and punish. It's also difficult to prove they had a any direct involvement with the spamming.

Just bear a seal already! (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662523)

In exchange for paying, e-mail senders will be guaranteed their messages won't be filtered and will bear a seal alerting recipients they're legitimate.

If it bears this seal []
I guarantee you that it is legitimate!

Yeah right.

Honestly now... (1)

db32 (862117) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662539)

I don't see how this will combat spam in the least, but I certainly don't see it helping spammers either. So I don't know why I should even care about this. Hell, if they want to make a quick buck off spammers willing to shell out the money then so be it, less money in the spammer's pockets. AOL/Yahoo are in a position to do this because of the money they have spent in the past building a large user base. If it does turn out to make the situation worse for users, or legit people trying to contact their users...I am confindent the free market remedy it given time. The PR backlash alone of them blocking a significant ammount of legit email would be nasty for them, even outside of the users that would leave BEFORE the backlash convinced others to jump ship too.

Glitch in the Matrix? (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662542)

Anyone else have a feeling of deja vu [] ? (Today is the 7th, the original article was posted on the 2nd. Five days -- most people probably still have their comments in their history page. Quick, do a copy-paste -- double that karma!)

I'll sum up the most salient points I remember from the other discussion:
-AOL will still have a whitelist for non-commercial mailinglists and the like to add themselves to, if they want to include a large number of AOL members
-Messages which aren't on the whitelist or who don't pay for Goodmail service will have their images and links removed
-The biggest (legitimate) user of this service would seem to be profit-generating promotional emails, like the ones that get sent out by airlines, travel agencies, etc.
-The general hivemind concensus seems to be that nobody likes AOL anyway, and this is just another reason to avoid dealing with them

E-Mail Vs. Mail (2, Insightful)

pvt_medic (715692) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662554)

While many people may cry foul, thinking that this is an expensive price tag, think about the people who would benefit most from this. Companies who have traditionally relied on mass mailings to announce things or update there customers will benefit from this substantially. Authentication that the e-mail is from who it says it is, and at a fraction of the price of snail mail. Although i do forsee that there will be several bugs to work out on this.

In other news (1)

LesPaul75 (571752) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662588)

This just in from our reporter at the scene, "Obvious Guy":
The number of Gmail users has tripled during the five minutes since this story broke. Sources say that Yahoo and AOL were shocked to learn that their e-mail users actually didn't like the idea of having Yahoo and AOL profit from delivering unwanted spam directly to their inboxes.

pros and cons (1)

mabu (178417) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662606)

This isn't such a bad idea, but it really hinges on whether or not the main base of spam gangs currently operating will jump on board. If so, then it could be very beneficial, as the community would have less UCE, bandwidth and resource theft and virus/trojan/worm activity would probably decrease dramatically (because people in the industry know that most of this activity is done by spammers). Plus with a new endorsement system, ISPs could more easily filter the mail if they wish, or they could use it as a profit source.

However, if the spam gangs don't embrace this idea, then all that's going to result is a new wave of pseudo-legitimate spammers, most likely popular corporations, will add to the already substantive noise level of e-mail traffic.

At this point, I can't imagine this scheme working, but nonetheless, it will all have to do with whether or not enough major systems (Hotmail, Gmail, yahoo, etc.) jump on board. If you have enough cooperation from the large free e-mail services, it could be a practical approach.

'Evil Bit' anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14662616)

See RFC 3514 [] .

But what if.... (1)

Itninja (937614) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662638)

It would really suck if you worked for Pfizer had a name like Frank Ucker ( You would have to pay $$ to send an email to your own family.

If we charge them to send you spam (4, Insightful)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662650)

does it make it any less spam-like?


It's still spam, but the network provider is taking a cut of the profits to betray you.

The idea would be a sound one... (1)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662654)

AOL and Yahoo said the program, which is being offered through a company called Goodmail Systems, will target banks, online retailers and other groups that send large amounts of e-mail.

...if all it did was affect those sending millions of spam messages, but instead it picks on the little guy, who even at such a low rate, can't afford to send out too many mailings. This will hurt non-profits and charitites the most. And it won't stop the spammers anyway; they'll forge the ids/addresses of "good" email customers and send their mail pouring through anyway.

Making spam fair (1)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662661)

One of the unfair aspects of spam is that the receiver pays the cost of transmitting and reading the spam. The spammer pays almost nothing to "advertize". Contrast this with traditional advertizing methods where the advertizer must pay a fee to have their ad carried on TV or in a newspaper.

AOL's users are going to be spending quite a bit of their online time deleting spam messages, so it's fair for AOL to cut them into the deal. If a spammer pays AOL a penny to send a spam to a single user, then it's fair for AOL to credit their account by perhaps half a penny. They could even cap it so that the most an AOL user would get is free service for agreeing to receive spam.

Wasting people's time without compensation is just wrong and annoying. Compensating people for their time to receive advertizing is fair. Anyone who wants to continue just paying their subscription could just decline to sign up for the service. Nobody should be automatically signed up for this. The default should be not to get spam.

Didn't they think of this, or am I just smarter than them? Makes me wonder.

One more reason to not renew my Yahoo! Plus (1)

shotgunefx (239460) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662672)

Unlike most people on Y! mail, I pay for it. Don't really use it much anymore (in particular since gmail), and it's coming up for renewal soon. Wasn't much of an argument to keep it, so this is the nail in the coffin.

I'm not paying for spam. Bad enough their filtering is shit in the first place. It will not filter email that's not addressed to your Y! address.

I forward mail to it from my mailserver so I can check it on the road if need be. So all the junk that hits that address passes right through to Y! as it is.

What really pissed me off was I spent forever training it with thousands of spams that had acrued and the only message it marked as bulk was legit. After much back and forth, I finally got an answer.

Dear XXX
We appreciate you following up with us. We have received your
communication regarding SpamGuard.

SpamGuard is designed to operate with your Yahoo! Mail account and is
not optimized for external accounts that are forwarding to your Yahoo!
Mail account. If you forward messages to your Yahoo! Mail account, we
suggest that you create filters which will route these messages to a
specific folder.


Which of course, with their filters being limited in number and functionality, it's not practical.

Bonded Sender, Mail Senders, Bulk -vs- Spam (2, Insightful)

PhYrE2k2 (806396) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662678)

First let me point out Bonded Sender. THis is not the same, but has the same effect. It is essentially putting up a bond (a few thousand dollars usually for even the slightest volume) and in doing so, you say "for every Spam message you get, take something from the bond to compensate yourself for it". This is a way for legitimate senders (CNN, Mailing lists, Slashdot, Microsoft's security updates, newspapers, etc) to white-list their e-mail with those recipients who follow this white-list (Hotmail, MSN, RoadRunner, etc for example, is one who does). It puts the "we swear we're not sending Spam, and we'll put money on it". [] shows their rates (for If it costs $12.50 for 5000 users (1/4 cent per e-mail), to make big e-mail providers (particularly webmail providers) to like their e-mail, that's a legitimate cost to the cover and drinks they'll make off of each person. If it brings in one person it's probably worth it.

These folks aren't Spammers, in the same way that when you sign up for news on CNN or your favourite software company, they're not Spammers either. People _WANT_ and _CHOOSE_ to get their mail. It is BULK mail, and I'll admit that (bulk not meaning junk). Spam filters continue to get smarter in knowing the difference between Spam, Bulk, and Personal mail. Personal mail is sent by a user. Bulk mail is things you want like newsletters. Spam offers a bigger penis through the use of Viagikra *sic*.

ISPs that group bulk and Spam into one category are missing the point of a Spam filter. It is not to keep bulk e-mail out but to be programmed to determine what the mail someone wants (or may want) to read and something that is unsolicited. The solicited/unsolicited mix is the important one.

Person-to-person mail is good.
Solicited mail is good.
Unsolicited commercial e-mail is bad.


New spam identifier (2, Interesting)

milamber3 (173273) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662684)

If you didn't want to get any of their certified spam couldn't you use the new "seal alerting recipients they're legitimate" as a custom identifier for a spam filter? Seems it would unite all this mail under one common signal allowing easier removal.

Bah. Bye-bye Yahoo, after many years. (1)

porcupine8 (816071) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662686)

I'll give it a month or two to see how it goes, but if this results in more spam getting my inbox, I'm going to finally resort to switching to Gmail. I've got a gmail address, but I just like Yahoo's interface much more. The effectiveness of their spam blocker has always been one reason I like them - if that goes away, I'll go through the supreme pain in the ass that would be switching all my crap over to a new email address after using this one for at least a good six or seven years.

Obligatory Joke... (1)

cant_get_a_good_nick (172131) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662712)

Slashdot to offer dupe protection as well?

Can you say extortion? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14662713)

Businesses already pay more for internet services and one of the reasons was for sending more email.

Now it seems the ISPs want more money and they think its alright to hold the emails that businesses send as hostage. Pay up or your business thru email will fail. They have the control over what they consider spam. So its either pay them what they want or they will consider you spam.

They need to make every computer have an IP Address locked to it. Then that could be attached to every email sent. If the receiver then thinks its spam, they can send it to their ISP for further review. If it is determined that the email is spam, the attached IP Address can be filtered and all ISPs can be notified of that particular address. If legal action is required, they would be able to find the computer that is sending spam and shut them down.

Businesses shouldn't have to pay more, the ISPs just need to make it where emails must include where they come from.

The Stink Test (1)

blueZhift (652272) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662716)

Given the large userbase of AOL and Yahoo!, this should be a good test of just how much "stink", people are willing to put up with. In my experience with their premium service, Yahoo! does a pretty good job of keeping spam out of my inbox. Typically, I'll get maybe two a day that escape filtering. If that number were to triple or quadruple, I might begin to think about another service. So legitimizing some spam this way, definitely carries a risk of customer loss.

Also interesting is the likelihood that the filtering efforts of AOL and Yahoo! are effective enough that mass mailers would be willing to pay fees to get around it. It makes one wonder if there is some suppressed technology that would effectively kill all spam, but The Man is keeping it under wraps, like the 100 mile/gallon carburetor [] of decades past. Very effective filtering may be what makes it possible for AOL and Yahoo! to get a bigger piece of the spam dollar than they probably already do.

The post office charges (2, Insightful)

CodesForFood (940001) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662732)

37 cents for a stamp, that doesn't stop spam from showing up in my snail mail box.

Re:The post office charges (2, Informative)

cqnn (137172) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662844)

Bulk mail and postcard rates are significantly less than letter rate
(37 cents).

  Most of the scams (get rich quick schemes and luck spreading chain mails)
have moved to email as a cheaper alternative. And many of the other
types (mortgage/refinance offers, catalogs, sales flyers) are starting
to move that way too.

Two questions: Privacy? and Payment? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14662758)

CNet news recently posted an article on this same topic. Two points got my attention, one has to do with privacy and the other with the payment process.


From the CNet Article, "as any company that used the service would have to show that under antispam laws, they had the right to send the e-mails." How the heck to they intend to verify this? To me this sounds like mail senders must divulge Opt-in/opt-out records to Yahoo! and AOL in order to get permission to use the certified email. If my assumption is true, this program could result in breaches of privacy policies and potentially lead to MORE spam if permission lists are being e-mailed around. If my assumption is not true, and Yahoo! and AOL will simply depend on a statement of compliance by the sender, then this program is nothing more than a money-making crock! Anyone can say they comply with CAN-SPAM. "Trust but verify" comes to mind.


On this point, I'm wondering how payment for emails will be collected. Do senders prepay and buy a block of "stamps", or do they get billed for the messages after the fact. In either case, the potential for abuse here is great. What's to prevent someone for buying a prepaid block of "stamps" and reselling them? What's to prevent someone from creating a shell company, satisfying the "verification" process, sending a bunch of spam, and then closing down shop before the bill comes.

I'm reserving final judgment until more details come out, but if this idea does come to pass, my business will stop allowing users to register using Yahoo! or AOL email accounts. And yes, every one of my business's emails comply with CAN-SPAM.

In the real world... (1)

PFI_Optix (936301) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662760)

...that is, anywhere but on the internet, wouldn't this be called "extortion"?

disclaimer: This is a real question, not rhetorical. I could admittedly be wrong.

My parents' Yahoo address has been filtered when they sent something to my address. They mass-emailed pictures of my son to about fifty people, and all the Yahoo users had to dig it out of their junk mail folders to view it. When Yahoo's spam filters are that restrictive, one must wonder just how many people will simply stop sending to Yahoo.

I'm not affected by this any more. $5 a month for domain hosting means never having to worry about good e-mail getting flagged as spam.

And this is going to stop spam? (1)

Random Guru 42 (687672) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662766)

All I can see is that this might decrease the profit margins of spammers somewhat. Perhaps not even enough to be notable for them. In fact, with the e-mails being certified as well, there's actually an incentive for spammers to pay, because that "certificiation" will make the sheep think that they've just recieved something good and legit rather than some crappy spam mail.

Unless Goodmail is privately held by people or organizations not looking to profit, it shouldn't be too hard for the spam cartel to buy up a stake and subvert it for their own purposes.

Legitimate? (1)

interstellar_donkey (200782) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662787)

e-mail senders will be guaranteed their messages won't be filtered and will bear a seal alerting recipients they're legitimate.

If I didn't ask for it, it's not legitimate. Period.

Junk mail is junk mail, regardless of who it's from.

I'm all for it! (1)

chenski (662960) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662798)

If the spammers want to pay me a penny for every spam they send me I guess that'd be fine with me. I'd still set up a filter to get rid of them tho.

Did anyone stop to think ... (1)

Keyslapper (852034) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662807)

that this might be just more M$ FUD? This is an article from M$NBC after all. Maybe not? FTR, I'm not entirely sure what the market shares are for this particular service, and I'm not sure anymore just who owns who (except of course, Google owns GMail - they do, right?). So maybe I'm off track here.

This is nothing new... (1)

mynameisnotnick (832452) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662854)

AOL has long provided business partners the ability to "white list" their domain - bypassing the SPAM filters. Now they're just charging companies to do it.

-gary, ex-AOL product manager

slashdot morons (4, Interesting)

Russ Nelson (33911) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662877)

Tell me, does ANYBODY read TF articles anymore, or do people just rely on the oh-so-inaccurate summary of the story? AOL and Yahoo are not going to permit people to send spam. They're going to give senders of opt-in email a way to avoid spam filters. Spammers aren't willing to pay money; their business would become entirely unprofitable. On the other hand, people who send opt-in email currently have to expend resources trying to avoid spam filters that should not be applying to them. So, like all voluntary free market transactions, AOL and Yahoo are splitting the difference. They're giving opt-in senders a way to reduce their costs and increase reliability (important for transactional email) in exchange for being paid to set up the special infrastructure necessary to ensure that they and only they are able to evade the spam filters.

Disclosure: I have consulted for Goodmail Systems' qmail implementation to be used by Yahoo.

Bullshit Meter Just Pegged... (1)

Eric Damron (553630) | more than 8 years ago | (#14662889)

"The fees, which would range from 1/4 cent to 1 cent per e-mail, are the latest attempts by the companies to weed out unsolicited ads, commonly called spam, and identity-theft scams. In exchange for paying, e-mail senders will be guaranteed their messages won't be filtered and will bear a seal alerting recipients they're legitimate."

So they claim that this is an "attempt to weed out unsolicited ads." That's gotta be the most blatant lie I've heard in awhile.

So what they want us to believe is that if they allow some spam (let's call it the "good spam") to bypass their spam filters the amount of total spam will be reduced? And the way it becomes "good spam" is by the spammer paying a fee! What a crock.

This is just an attempt to implement the "Microsoft postage scam" in a round about way. Next they can announce that either they won't do any filtering at all making regular non-paying email hopelessly lost in the ocean of spam or they can just out and out stop the delivery of any free email.

This is NOT "the latest attempt to weed out unsolicited ads." This is the latest attempt by big corporations to increase their bottom line.
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