Whether e-mail should be free is at the heart of the debate in Seattle today at 3:30 p.m. The debate, which a coalition of people are calling "The People vs. AOL," is about a system in which e-mail users pay to certify that the e-mail they are sending is not spam.
The service is from a company called Goodmail Systems.
In a New York Times op-ed piece, technology pundit Esther Dyson suggests the company be given a chance to see if its solution to the problem of spam and fraud on the Internet works -- one that relies on market forces rather than ineffective regulations.
Through its CertifiedEmail service, the company charges "reputable, responsible organizations" a small per-message fee.
The DearAOL.com coalition hosting the debate at the N-TEN Conference in Seattle insists that it's an email tax and sees a certified program as a threat to the free and open Internet. To charge would draw a line between the rich and the poor. "This system would create a two-tiered Internet," the organization said.
The debate will take place at the Westin's Cascade II room in downtown Seattle at 3:30 p.m.