LETTER: The Internet Is Not a Free and Clear Network
Vixie has no interest in stopping Glinski, or anyone else, from communicating with their customers if those customers have given their permission. If Glinski's customers have provided their e-mail addresses to him, and have asked him to communicate with them, that's all there is to it. Vixie and others involved in Internet governance and management have no issue with them. They only seek to ensure that the systems don't get abused in the process and innocent people don't get caught in the loop.
The more fundamental error (and misunderstanding) on Glinski's part is that "the Internet, by its design, is a free and clear network." This cannot be further from reality, but it is a common misnomer. The original network that became known as the "Internet" was funded by the Advanced Research Projects Agency, later changed to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, in the 1960s and '70s, and then by the National Science Foundation as an academic and research network. Even this wasn't free -- it cost taxpayers money. But in 1992-93 this changed, and a completely new network was built from the ground up. And it was funded by the Internet service providers themselves.
That continues today. There is no altruism on the Internet today. Everybody pays. None of it is free or clear. So Glinski and others have to understand that they are now playing in someone else's forum, and the rules of that forum apply. Even Glinski must recognize this: He pays AOL $19.95 a month and signed a service agreement whereby he promised not to send e-mail to others without their explicit permission.
He also must agree that he has no fundamental right to receive service from AOL. It can cancel his account at any time. So neither free nor clear applies to his use, either.
CenterGate Research Group LLC