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You may have read about giant internet service providers AOL and Yahoo deciding to charge for certain classes of email. Now they will only allow emails which have been paid for to go straight into your email box.

Unpaid-for emails go into the bulk box for you to sort out for yourself. Or something like that.

This will automatically stop spam, because spammers aren't going to pony up around a cent per spam mail. Terrific idea, according to AOL and Yahoo.

The US Senate is already looking at legislation which would ban anything that impinged on the neutrality of the internet, such as this. But the Senate's record in facing up to big business is patchy.

The perceptive IT journalist Fred Langa makes a nice assessment: 'It's like buying an indulgence from the church in the Middle Ages. All it takes is some disposable income, and you can buy your way out of being labeled a sinner, er, I mean spammer. What a marvellously cynical way of doing business.' The Electronic Frontier Foundation says: 'This isn't really an anti-spam measure as much as a 'pay to speak' email measure, and it won't end spam or phishing? this is a bad idea we think should be nipped in the bud.'

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