AOL Tries To Defend Their Spam Flag On Emergency Emails

from the no-return-address? dept

Following yesterday's well-publicized story about AOL blocking emergency alert emails as spam in Florida, the company has responded by blaming the group that put out the alerts. While they've put the emergency alerts on a whitelist, they also defended the reasons the mailings were clipped as spam in the first place. AOL is accusing the group sending out these emergency alerts of using many of the tactics commonly associated with spam. Of course, it's not entirely clear what those tactics were. AOL's spokesperson hints that the mailings didn't include a return address, but doesn't say that specifically. He also says that anyone sending out a lot of emails for a legitimate reason should first get their mailings "pre-approved" by ISPs. Say what? An emergency alert provider needs to go around to every ISP from every person who signs up for their list to get approval first? That seems to be going a bit too far.

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  • identicon
    Michael Vilain, 3 May 2005 @ 10:09am

    Where's Gov. Bush on this emergency?

    He got all hot about Terri Schiavo. What about lives and property lost because AOL filtered this content?

    I smell emergency legislation.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Brian McWilliams, 3 May 2005 @ 11:52am

    Cut AOL some slack

    I'm willing to give AOL the benefit of the doubt here. The big ISP has clearly published the key technical and formatting issues that cause it to reject mail as spam (available here). I'd say the onus is on bulk senders to know about these guidelines, since they're more or less industry best practices.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Chomper, 3 May 2005 @ 11:53am

    No Subject Given

    This is really stupid. Who in the world relies on e-mail for emergency information?!?

    I can't think of a more UNRELIABLE medium for letting the masses know something is wrong.

    On top of that, what if these were hoaxes?

    While I dislike AOL as much as the next person, there is social engineering hacking out there and this could have been one of those ways.

    And Mike, please leave politics out of this.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Paul, 3 May 2005 @ 12:41pm

    All ISPs are heading down this road...

    I saw it coming about 1.5 years ago. All of the ISPs will want anyone sending email to "authenticate" with them. Hence grows the market for the middlemen email service providers.
    What a bucket of garbage. Fortunately, there are new ways to handle this, leaving ISPs as the "authority" and the money-grubbing middlemen-marketers in the dust. Anyone building a business on email today will not be around in 10 years.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Nate, 4 May 2005 @ 9:40am

    AOL's standards are clear

    I think AOL's standards are crystal clear: http://postmaster.aol.com/guidelines/standards.html. People running mail servers from a dynamic IP address, without reverse DNS, sending thousands of messages at a time, etc. (mimicking the way spammers route mail through hijacked Windows PCs) certainly shouldn't expect their mail to get through.

    Is there any word on what triggered this particular block?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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