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certified e-mail (authenticated e-mail or stamped e-mail)

Certified e-mail, also known as authenticated e-mail or stamped e-mail, is a system in which senders of commercial e-mail messages pay a small fee to ensure that their messages will bypass spam filter s to reach intended recipients. The use of a fee for e-mail has sometimes been called e-mail postage, e-postage, sender pays or e-stamping.

Both America Online ( AOL ) and Yahoo have announced certified e-mail plans based on a technology developed by Goodmail Systems. For a fee of approximately 1/4 of a cent (USD $0.0025) per e-mail, or USD $2.00 to $3.00 for every 1000 messages sent, advertisers can post e-mail messages that defeat most spam filters commonly used at the server level by Internet service providers ( ISP s). Proponents believe that certified e-mail will, if effectively used on a large scale, make spam unprofitable and thereby improve the operation of the Internet by reducing useless electronic traffic.

Critics of certified e-mail insist that such a system is not likely to be effective because new technologies will arise to circumvent it. Furthermore, because the system is optional, spammers will still be able to send bulk mail freely. Certification will, however, make it possible for a legitimate bulk e-mailer to ensure that their messages aren't selected as false positive s and delivered to recipients' junk folders. Certified e-mail messages are marked with a blue ribbon as a token of authenticity, indicating to the recipient that the associated message is safe to open and interact with.

Historically, the notion of e-mail postage has been controversial. Several years ago, a rumor circulated that the United States government was planning to charge Internet users for e-mail. The rumor, although false, caused storms of protest from the American public, who viewed it as a regressive and onerous new tax that could drive small companies out of business.

This was last updated in January 2011

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