Articles on Slashdot and Ars Technica this week discuss AOL\u2019s blocking of incoming messages containing links to dearaol.com, a Web site that criticizes AOL\u2019s e-mail \u201ctax\u201d (the much discussed and broadly disliked \u201cpay to send\u201d system from Goodmail). \n\nAs soon as AOL\u2019s blocking was discovered and publicized AOL removed the block claiming \u201ca glitch\u201d. AOL contends that the \u201cglitch\u201d didn\u2019t only affect messages containing links to dearAOL.com but many other sites as well.\n\nI find it hard to believe this story as it is just too convenient a cover for what amounts to over-zealous marketing \u2013 something that AOL is noted for. Some critics have called it censorship, something it certainly is, but have neglected to position AOL\u2019s actions in the bigger context of a breach of trust. \n\nThe soon to be implemented pay-to-send system is a breach of trust no matter which way AOL pitches it and this blocking just confirms that breach of trust and that AOL is less concerned with the rights and freedoms of its members than filling its coffers.\n\nI wonder though if the majority AOL\u2019s 20 million users are aware of these events and issues? I suspect not and even if they were, would they care? Again, I suspect not.\n\nWhile many of us in the IT industry deplore AOL\u2019s behavior over pay to send the fact is that AOL does satisfy the needs of many people who aren\u2019t computer literate and need Internet access in just the way that AOL provides it. \n\nWhy is this? Because Microsoft doesn\u2019t. Microsoft was so late to the Internet service game that they have never made TCP\/IP networking as simple as it should be. Think of it: The one company that could have set standards and procedures for getting on-line and getting e-mail did such a bad job that bloated marketware like the AOL client are the best that Joe Average can get his hands on.\n\nWhy is there no product out there that attempts to make the Internet at least as easy to use as AOL without requiring AOL?