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Saturday, March 04, 2006

Stop HBO's Cable Tax!

Micah Sifry blogged about my company on the Personal Democracy Forum website. He ended his post, Another Side to the Goodmail Debate?, with the sentence "What do you think?". Here is what I think (cross-posted as a comment there): [Note: Cindy is the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Cindy Cohn]

The EFF’s crusade is about opposing innovation, limiting choices and preventing mailbox providers from protecting their customers.

In Cindy's imaginary world, mailboxes are not filled with junk, phishing and identity theft do not exist, legitimate messages are not caught in spam filters and email is still the great medium it used to be ten years ago -- before spammers and scammers took it away from all of us. In her imaginary world, the internet is free (not only as in free speech but also as in free beer); mail servers, bandwidth capacity, storage and sysadmin services are all manna, I guess.

Ask most experts in the email and anti-spam community and they will tell you that when it comes to email, the EFF is clueless. Cindy opposed CAN-SPAM, and is against spam filters unless these can be made to never, ever, make a mistake (again living in fantasyland).

To Cindy’s dismay, the American consumer *demands* spam filtering. A mailbox provider who chooses to deliver unfiltered mail will face an exodus of customers, seeking a protected mailbox elsewhere. With filtering, false positives (the mistaken labeling of a legitimate message as spam) and false negatives (letting a phishing message go through) are inevitable. CertifiedEmail is one solution to this problem.

Consumers and brands alike seek protection from phishing. Experts often can’t tell apart a legitimate message from a phishing attempt. What is the average consumer to do? Use the internet less? Never use on-line banking? Abandon e-commerce? Donate to the American Red Cross through snail mail? CertifiedEmail restores trust in the channel. With CertifiedEmail, Joe can trust that the bank statement is indeed from his bank, Jane can click-to-donate, knowing her money goes to the Red Cross and not to an evil crook.

The “electronic postage” concept was once championed by no other than Brad Templeton, the EFF chairman: "E-stamps ... Recommendation: Support as long-term solution"
(http://www.templetons.com/brad/spam/spamsol.html)

How can the idea be so evil now if it was once the EFF’s very own recommendation? Why portray it as a tax?!

Email is an ultra-competitive market with hundreds of mailbox providers offering free or paying services, why can’t the EFF let AOL users vote with their feet and wallets if they like the service they get?!

I once had a lot of respect for the EFF as I believed they were on the right side of things for most non-email-related issues. Their recently demonstrated total lack of intellectual integrity and the recourse to the tax demagogy have irreparably eroded that respect. It is now clear to me they subscribe to the notion that the cause justifies the means. Using the catchy but purposely misleading “tax” terminology is not something an honorable institution would do.

Taxes are inevitable and imposed by governments. CertifiedEmail is about choice. This is an email tax just like HBO is a cable tax.

Daniel Dreymann, Goodmail Systems

PS: I wish I could claim credit for it but the HBO simile is not mine(http://www.networkworld.com/community/?q=node/4712).


By DTD at Sat, 03/04/2006 - 13:20

What do you think?

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