According to ClickZ, AOL will be charging people to send bulk email to it's user base. This is truly a frightening trend.

As spam has been accelerating, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have been taking more and more desperate measures to protect their customers. One popular technique has been to block an entire server because, based on volume of mail and other inelegant algorithms, software running on the ISP's servers decided that the server is sending spam.

Fortunately, AOL and other ISP's have recognized that an enormous amount of legitimate email is blocked using this mechanism. Unfortunately, AOL has decided that the solution to this problem is that people sending legitimate email should pay.

Here at May First we host over 200 email lists, some with thousands of subscribers. Therefore, we inevitably send anywhere from 1,000 to 10,000 messages to AOL per day. All messages sent are commercial free communications between nonprofit organizations and their constituents, often carrying messages that will never be available in the mainstream media. Even if AOL charged 1/10th of one cent per email, May First could be billed over $150,000 per year just to send email to AOL.

If other big players in the ISP world pick up on this idea, it could effectively shut out huge parts of the Internet to non-commercial email content.