California Legislator Hopes to Take AOL/Goodmail Discussion National

  |  April 5, 2006   |  Comments

UPDATE: Discussing Monday's Senate hearing, California State Senator Dean Florez said if nonprofits can't get e-mail through AOL's system, "We're really going to be on the backs of AOL."

California State Senator Dean Florez hopes this week's hearings on AOL's CertifiedEmail plans resonate nationwide.

The senator expressed his desire to get the federal government and federal regulatory commissions involved in the issue during a conference call to discuss Monday's hearing before California's Senate Select Committee on E-Commerce, Wireless Technology and Consumer Driven Programming. The Democratic senator called the optional, paid certification AOL is offering through Goodmail "precedent-setting."

"How do we get them [federal players] engaged? We have a hearing like this," he continued. The senator referred to California as the "home of Silicon Valley," and therefore the ideal place to "start a dialogue." Florez represents California's 16th district, which encompasses Silicon Valley.

The senator expressed skepticism of the Goodmail system, worrying that it could prevent legitimate emails from non-profits from getting through to AOL users. He said the state plans to monitor AOL's email delivery. Specifically mentioning The United Farm Workers, Florez insisted that if non-profits or groups are unable to or cannot afford to participate in AOL's certification system, "We're really going to be on the backs of AOL….If one of those emails gets caught in something, we're going to convene real quick." Florez, who is running for reelection this year, has sponsored state legislation protecting farm laborers from pesticides and heat-related illness.

"We welcome the scrutiny," said AOL spokesperson Nicholas Graham, responding to the potential for California to monitor its email delivery. According to AOL's presentation at the hearing, the Goodmail certification adds a layer of authentication above the whitelist system to help curb the rising tide of phishing emails, which are considered a type of spam. The company also stressed in its presentation that in order to utilize the Goodmail service, "senders must meet stricter standards than bulk senders using AOL’s Whitelist services," and non-participation in the Goodmail system will not affect email delivery.

According to the senator's re-cap of Monday's hearing, committee members discussed other third-party email certification providers such as Habeas and Return Path, and questioned the value of using Goodmail's system. Committee members evidently also mulled the idea of the state of California serving as an email certifier itself if usage of paid third-party certification becomes more prevalent. "I would not discount the state being the certifier for email and IP addresses, etc.," stated Florez, adding that practical implementation of such a process would require further exploration.

The widespread furor over the plan started in earnest about a month ago when detractors protested AOL's certification program, calling it an “email tax” and launching an online petition, DearAOL, that has since garnered over 41,000 signatures and the support of hundreds of organizations.

AOL is currently designing a certification program tailored to the needs of not-for-profits and advocacy groups, which it plans to offer for free to such organizations. According to Graham, AOL will announce details of the new pro-bono program in the next 30 days.

Both AOL and Yahoo in October 2005 announced relationships with Goodmail Systems. AOL is expected to launch the voluntary paid Goodmail certification offering soon, while Yahoo hasn't yet announced details of how it will implement the system.

Though asked to attend, Yahoo was not represented at the hearing. According to Yahoo spokesperson Karen Mahon, the company "declined to participate because it would have been premature for us." The publisher and email service provider has not yet launched its Goodmail certification offering, which it plans to start testing in a few months. During testing, Yahoo will limit Goodmail certification to transactional email messages, according to Mahon, who said Yahoo chose to use Goodmail to counteract phishing attempts.

According to Senator Florez, a transcript of Monday's hearing will be available in the next couple of weeks.

ClickZ Live Toronto Twitter Canada MD Kirstine Stewart to Keynote Toronto
ClickZ Live Toronto (May 14-16) is a new event addressing the rapidly changing landscape that digital marketers face. The agenda focuses on customer engagement and attaining maximum ROI through online marketing efforts across paid, owned & earned media. Register now and save!


Kate Kaye

Kate Kaye was Managing Editor at ClickZ News until October 2012. As a daily reporter and editor for the original news source, she covered beats including digital political campaigns and government regulation of the online ad industry. Kate is the author of Campaign '08: A Turning Point for Digital Media, the only book focused on the paid digital media efforts of the 2008 presidential campaigns. Kate created ClickZ's Politics & Advocacy section, and is the primary contributor to the one-of-a-kind section. She began reporting on the interactive ad industry in 1999 and has spoken at several events and in interviews for television, radio, print, and digital media outlets. You can follow Kate on Twitter at @LowbrowKate.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

ClickZ Today is our #1 newsletter.
Get a daily dose of digital marketing.



Featured White Papers

ion Interactive Marketing Apps for Landing Pages White Paper

Marketing Apps for Landing Pages White Paper
Marketing apps can elevate a formulaic landing page into a highly interactive user experience. Learn how to turn your static content into exciting marketing apps.

eMarketer: Redefining Mobile-Only Users: Millions Selectively Avoid the Desktop

Redefining 'Mobile-Only' Users: Millions Selectively Avoid the Desktop
A new breed of selective mobile-only consumers has emerged. What are the demos of these users and how and where can marketers reach them?


    • Contact Center Professional
      Contact Center Professional (TCC: The Contact Center) - Hunt ValleyLooking to join a workforce that prides themselves on being routine and keeping...
    • Recruitment and Team Building Ambassador
      Recruitment and Team Building Ambassador (Agora Inc.) - BaltimoreAgora,, continues to expand! In order to meet the needs of our...
    • Design and Publishing Specialist
      Design and Publishing Specialist (Bonner and Partners) - BaltimoreIf you’re a hungry self-starter, creative, organized and have an extreme...