Address portability? Already got it!

I'm not even sure why this is garnering press coverage. But, that's not going to stop me from jumping on the bandwagon.

The short version is: Gail Mortenson, a freelance writer from Washington DC, lost her AOL account, which she had been using for business. So, her response is to complain to the FCC that the rules need to be changed. As Declan McCullagh says, Mortenson's proposal is silly.
  • First, this highlights that it's not wise to use somebody else's domain for your important email. If you're a business person, or if you're a business, why don't you have your own domain? At their most expensive, back in the day, they were $70/year. Domain registration was cheap then, and it's even cheaper now -- it currently costs on average $8-$15/year to own a domain name.
  • Second, email address “portability,” which would essentially be free email forwarding for life, blows up spam filtering. Most spam filtering is based on the reputation of the sending IP address. Email forwarding makes email appear as though it comes from the first ISP's mail server, instead of the actual source of the message. Yeah, you can build complex technical things to try to work around this, but it's a huge hurdle and there is no easy solution. It's not like porting a phone number, folks.
  • Third, email address portability already exists! I've been doing it for years, and it only costs me $12/year. Here's how I do it. I register my domains (example: with domain registrar That costs me $12/year. They provide me with a control panel (at no extra charge) where you can set up email addresses and set the destination for those addresses. That means that today, mail sent to my address can automatically land in my Hotmail account. Tomorrow, I could change it so mail lands in my Gmail or Yahoo account. If I want to get more fancy, I can have Google Apps host the domain more directly, with excellent spam filtering and a branded webmail interface that's easy to use. Still for free. (This is in fact what I do with currently.)
So, hopefully the FCC won't mandate changes to fix a problem that doesn't exist. I assume the top tier ISPs are busy drafting memos to various government types telling them exactly why this is a bad idea. Do you think the FCC will listen?

1 comment:

  1. I found this post by Googling for spam and email forwarding. I was interested in the topic because I use exactly the same method as you for email portability and I am having problems with my hosting company. I have several domains -- a personal family domain, a Boy Scout troop and a computer language-related users group web site -- and I have multiple forwarders for each. For instance, the address (where XXX is actually TRI) is forwarded to a webmail account I use. I have recently been asked to delete all forwarders that target addresses on a long list of domains that maintain blacklists (including AOL, Yahoo, Time Warner, etc.) because forwarded spam is getting the hosting company's server blacklisted. I haven't figured out a way to filter spam before forwarding email with my current hosting company.

    Have you run into this problem, and if so, what did you do about it?


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