Sunday, April 23, 2006


As regular readers may know, I use Gmail and connect to it through my Thunderbird program. I'm also a customer of Verzion's DSL service and so, have a Verizon email account. In an email I received at one of my Gmail accounts today I was informed that Paul Weller's upcoming live album will be released in the U.S. and Canada. This is great news for Weller fans in the States as we've suffered for years trying to get albums of any sort, let alone live albums. Many of us end up ordering imports.

Excited about the news, I decided to forward the email on to a couple of friends. A couple of minutes later one of the emails was returned. It was bounced, according to the return notice, because it originated as a Gmail account and Verizon is now blocking all emails from Gmail accounts as Spam. This is ridiculous, I thought. After the absurdity of Verizon blocking all emails from Europe to America, I thought that they'd not pull such a stupid stunt. First, I forwarded on the email using my own Verizon account and that worked. Next, I sent a test email from one of my Gmail accounts to my Verizon account. Sure enough, it bounced just like the previous one.

I've gone through Verizon's system and let them know that I'm unhappy with this development. Do they block email from Hotmail and Yahoo? After all, I get far more spam from those accounts. Blocking emails from domains such as these free companies or from an entire continent is not a useful way to fight Spam. I'd suggest that Verizon work with Gmail and Hotmail and find out about what Spam filters they are using because, frankly, they are getting quite good at combatting the problem. Hell, my Thunderbird program does an excellent job at filtering spam, so perhaps Verizon should talk with the Mozilla folks.

In any case, I'm pissed. This is a stupid approach to the issue. If an ISP cannot act in a more intelligent manner, then I'm left wondering what other stupid things they are doing. Geesh. OK, I'm off to warn Google about this.


Scott said...

Is it naive to believe that this is stupidity run amuck in trying to curb spam, or is it paranoid to view it as a coldly calculated corporate ploy to further gouge us?

Hotmail/MSN and other free E-Mail providers were attempting to charge users about $20 on the penny every year for additional storage space which didn't even keep up with the larger E-mails sizes created by more advanced technology. At the same time advertising on their mail clients became more intrusive and dense.

Along comes G-Mail, with subtle adds and nearly a thousand times the space. I was paying Hotmail more than $20 a year for a few megabytes of space (2 then 10mb). Over 2gb free? Screwed the plans of MSN et al to gouge their customers. (Microsoft charged my credit card for an additional year which I did not authorize, and I remember explicitly stating the credit card info was for one time use.)

Call me paranoid. I think the more customer centric attitude of G-Mail is the reason they are being blocked by Verizon. I hope it bites them in the ass.

Albatross said...

Dude, I am in exactly the same place with Comcast.

It has decided not to accept e-mail from my home server because it has decided my IP address is from a "personal" IP range. (This is incorrect - I have a static business IP address, not a dynamic IP address out of my ISP's "home user" range).

I wrote to Dave Farber's "Interesting People" list about this a couple of weeks ago, and received the mailing list equivalent of a shrug. The attitude was "businesses can do whatever they want."

When I argued that a business that controls this much communication and that institutes these changes with no warnings to its customers ought to be held to a higher standard, the comments I received were "Definitely not" and "This would lead to socialism."

The Internet's underlying infrastructure in the United States is being taken over by private companies who can arbitrarily decide who may and may not use it.... and apparently that's just fine.

B.D. said...

Scott: There's no doubt in my mind that this is a ploy to gouge users. Apparently, Verizon's email is "powered by Yascrew". Naturally, Yascrew is one of the companies that wants to charge for "safe and timely" email delivery (as if such a thing never existed before their plan was introduced). Safe is a term only associated with encryption of the email and I don't see any provider suggesting that users encrypt email; likely because it wouldn't cowtow to the government's interest in surveillance.

Albatross: Yea, I read your post after it went up. It's part of the reason that I decided to pursue this issue and post about it here. The situation's just fucked. And screw those folks who suggest that your position is somehow socialist. Shit, the Internet was a communal concept in it's creation and now businesses want to privatize it for profit. That's what I call a "taking" and I want to be duly compensated for it. I'm sure you're aware about the arguments for network neutrality. The concept seems to only rile a few of us into action, but it's companies that will be adversely affected - small and medium businesses and individuals who can ill afford such extortion. The whole thing just gets me down.