Is AOL Censoring Blogspot Links?

This is why I started Triona's Tech Tips – because there are murky things going on in the computer world that consumers have no way of detecting. Today it's your Internet service providers, who are once again doing things without telling their subscribers.

In starting this blog, I naturally added its address to my email signature:

trionas-techtips.blogspot.com

In the course of checking my Monday morning mail, I sent a reply to a client with whom I've worked for years. Imagine my surprise at the following bounce message:

PERM_FAILURE: Rejected by the recipient domain. The error that the other server returned was:
554 554-: (HVU:B1)http://postmaster.info.aol.com/errors/554hvub1.html
554 TRANSACTION FAILED.

I recognized the error because it's an unusual one, and because I'd just seen it over the weekend when sending a non-work-related email. I immediately recognized the commonalities: both emails were addressed to AOL users, and happened to have links to Blogspot blogs.

A little web sleuthing came up with this:
http://blogging.nitecruzr.net/2008/05/aol-vs-blogspot.html

It appears AOL has decided, without telling its users, that it's no longer going to accept email messages that happen to contain Blogspot links. And Blogspot happens to be owned by Google.

This is a horrible precident, one that echoes the arguments in favor of net neutrality. If it's okay for an Internet provider to decide which links it will allow in email, what's to stop them from, say, refusing all emails from non-affiliated providers? Imagine if your cell phone company decided you couldn't receive calls from another company's customers!

This isn't going to provide computer security for AOL users, as the error message implies. It's going to send those users – who are already plenty ticked about their degrading service, especially dial-up – straight into the arms of some other provider.

If you're an AOL user and suddenly not receiving some emails, this may be part of your answer. And if you are emailing AOL users, you'll have to break up the “blogspot” address, like this:

trionas-techtips.b l o g spot.com

Otherwise your message may never reach your recipient, and you may never know why.

Posted byTriona Guidry at 6:55 AM  

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