From: Eli Pariser, Civic Action <>
To: Robin J. Rustan <>
Subject: Demand answers from AOL
Date: Tue, 21 Mar 2006 09:37:20 -0800

Dear AOL user,

The truth about AOL's proposed email tax comes out more every day.

On Friday, in a New York Times op-ed, a prominent AOL email tax supporter named Esther Dyson revealed the truth: AOL's proposed email tax will lead to a world where "sending most e-mail will cost money" and, according to her, "that's only right."

This op-ed debunks a key myth AOL has told its customers—that "nothing will change" for everyday email users after AOL's pay-to-send proposal goes into effect. Since Dyson told the truth on Friday, AOL has been mysteriously silent—let's make AOL declare publicly if they agree or disagree with Esther Dyson's view.

Please contact AOL today, by phone or over one of several internal AOL feedback tools. Help us reach our new goal of 10,000 contacts to AOL.

Contact AOL by clicking here:

Ask AOL to either publicly support or publicly reject Dyson's call for a world where "sending most e-mail will cost money."1 Dyson said AOL's pay-to-send system is "one early step along the way to that model."2 AOL has an obligation to their customers and public to say whether they agree with Dyson's view.

Before contacting AOL, you may want to read the below summary of Friday's New York Times op-ed from our coalition website,

Why has AOL been mum on Esther Dyson's New York Times piece? Because a key part of their support base has been exposed—those who think it's "only right" that "sending most e-mail will cost money." AOL has been trying to hide their supporters who hold this view because it proves MoveOn and over 600 organizations in the coalition correct when we say AOL threatens the free and open Internet.

AOL may try to blow off your questions by addressing some other part of Dyson's op-ed that's less controversial. We must press them on whether they agree with Dyson's view that in the future "sending most e-mail will cost money" and "that's only right." If they do, they must say so. If they don't, they must reject Dyson's worldview publicly.

Please contact AOL today by clicking here:

Thanks for all you do.

–Eli Pariser, Noah T. Winer, Adam Green, and the Civic Action team
  Tuesday, March 21st, 2006


1. "You've Got Goodmail," New York Times op-ed, March 17, 2006

2. " coalition tangles with Esther Dyson," March 20, 2006

AOL email tax supporter debunks claim that "nothing will change"

On Friday's New York Times op-ed page, AOL email tax supporter Esther Dyson revealed the truth: AOL's proposed email tax will lead to a world where sending email is no longer free—and she likes it that way.

Her column was called "You've Got Goodmail." Goodmail is the vendor that would implement AOL's pay-to-send proposal, and would share hundreds of millions in profits with AOL from the email tax.

Dyson wrote:

"Goodmail has been met with a barrage of criticism and calls for a de facto boycott from several nonprofit and public interest groups. These organizations seem to think that all Internet mail must always be free, just because it was free before. ...Of course, the critics say, this is the first step. Pretty soon all mail will cost money, and then the free, open world of the Internet will be closed to poor people, nonprofits and other good guys, while multinational conglomerates fill their ever-growing pockets. I agree that pretty soon sending most e-mail will cost money, but I think that's only right."

Dyson's acknowledgement undermines AOL's PR scheme for its pay-to-send proposal, which centers on convincing the public that their email tax is "voluntary" and "nothing will change" for everyday emailers. AOL recently went so far as to say that after their email tax is implemented, ultimately "Consumers pay nothing. Zero. Nada."

The Silicon Valley-based San Jose Mercury News initially dealt a blow to this claim with an editorial saying "separate, unequal systems" would develop from AOL's email tax. It explained, "The temptation would be to neglect the free e-mail system, whose reliability would decline. Eventually, everyone would migrate to the fee-based system. There would be no way around the AOL tollbooth."

On Friday, AOL's claims were again called into question—this time by AOL's own supporter, Dyson, who said that AOL's pay-to-send scheme is a significant step toward a world where "most e-mail will cost money"—which she calls "only right."

Tell AOL what you think—contact AOL at: