Study: ISPs block some legitimate e-mails

Triangle Business Journal

August 12, 2003

A new study by Return Path Inc. reveals Internet service providers inadvertently are blocking or filtering legitimate e-mail in their attempts to protect their subscribers from spam. The assurance services division of the Colorado company tracked the delivery, blocking and filtering rates of 9,956 e-mail marketing campaigns sent by clients during the first and second quarters of 2003, using its Mailbox Monitor delivery monitoring service.

The findings revealed 17 percent of permission-based e-mail messages incorrectly were blocked or filtered by the top 12 ISPs.

Of that 17 percent that was blocked, the highest "false positive" spam identifications were traced to and NetZero, at 38 percent and 34 percent, respectively. CompuServe followed at 31 percent and AOL at 25 percent.

At 4 percent, Yahoo had the lowest incidence of blocking and filtering.

"As ISPs and system administrators aggressively -- and appropriately -- try to protect their users from spam, a lot of opt-in e-mail is victimized," says Matt Blumberg, CEO of Return Path. "It's like throwing the baby out with the bath water. It is up to every company sending e-mail to make sure its campaigns are done appropriately so that they avoid triggering spam filters."

Return Path helps consumers and businesses with their e-mail performance through services such as email forwarding, e-mail change-of-address registry and e-mail marketing strategy development.

© 2003 American City Business Journals Inc.