LETTER: MAPS' Vixie Wants to Regulate the Internet
As a direct marketer, I want to communicate with my customers any way I can as long as they want me to communicate with them in that way. In other words, if they do not like receiving telemarketing offers from me, I stop communicating with them in that medium.
The same is true for e-mail. My customers have voluntarily given me their e-mail addresses. I have made no secrets why I asked for it, I promised not to sell it to anyone else and I always offer them a way out every time I e-mail them. My customers have chosen to do business with me, and I have an ongoing relationship with them. This relationship is between me and my customer, not between me and my customer and MAPS or some Internet service provider in between.
As far as I am concerned, MAPS has no business telling me I cannot communicate with my customer by e-mail because it does not approve of the way I use my e-mail list.
Vixie is wrong in his analogy that there is no cost burden with postal mail or even telephone mail. The U.S. Postal Service and telephone providers have to deal with the volume of their businesses every day. We have postal increases and rate increases for our phones so these companies can deal with their volumes. It is a cost of doing business. The difference is that as a mailer or telemarketer, I pay a fee for the delivery service I am using. The Internet, by its design, is a free and clear network. It was designed as a free, unregulated method of communication.
The problem is, as ISPs have discovered, it is not free.
If Vixie is concerned about an ISP's cost of doing business, then he should be looking to develop a fee schedule for people who want to send bulk e-mail instead of trying to limit or impair legitimate companies who want to communicate with legitimate customers from doing so. He, in effect, wants to regulate the Internet. Is that not a slap in the face of the original intent of the Internet?
If Vixie wants to have a network that does not accept bulk e-mails, then let him create one. But he should be perfectly clear to his subscribers that he will limit what they can receive so they can choose whether to remain with him or not. That is how business is conducted.