Five million subscribers to America OnLine (AOL)could find their email addresses handed over to spammers next Thursday courtesy of the self-styled National Organisation of Internet Commerce (NOIC).
The NOIC said it will post five million addresses on its home page next Thursday unless AOL gives in to its demands to discuss allowing AOL subscribers to receiver unsolicited email or spam.
AOL said it is considering legal action against the NOIC if it publishes members' addresses. The company said it processes 22 million e-mails a day for its 10 million members and tries to block junk mail before it reaches the end user.
But the NOIC claims this is censorship and prevents legitimate small businesses from advertising products over the Internet. It says AOL members should have to opt out of receiving unsolicited mail.
Joseph Melle, NOIC president, claimed: ?The only reason the Internet Service Providers do not want [firms] to bulk email is because they are trying to put the competition out of business, not because they care about their customers. Companies like AOL are also in the bulk email business. Anyone with an AOL account knows that it is rare to log on to AOL without getting a pop up account shoved in their face.
?If you allow them to put small businesses that advertise via bulk email out of business, will it end there?? he went on.?Maybe the next target will be website's, and then search engines and banner ads. Soon they will make it so that small businesses are excluded from the Internet altogether.?
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