Mandated Email Forwarding Not The Best Choice

By Mike Maddaloni on Friday, November 02, 2007 at 08:33 AM with 2 comments

A petition was recently filed with the Federal Communications (FCC) by Gail Mortenson, a freelance writer who abruptly had her AOL account terminated, and as a result her email address was no longer valid. She has claimed this has been a detriment to her business, a point nobody could argue with. Changing your email address can be a painful process. As it is so easy to give out your email address, you can never know who may try to email you after you have changed your address and no longer have the old address.

The need to change an email address usually comes when you change jobs or change Internet providers. For the former, using a personal email address will eliminate missing personal communications. And with regards to the personal email address, I have written before that you should own your own domain name to ensure you always receive your personal email and not rely to your detriment on the email provider, whether it’s Hotmail, GMail, etc., as you do not have full control over your email address.

Mandating by law Internet and email providers to forward email may be good and straightforward in theory; however it will not work on several fronts. First there is the issue of email traffic and bandwidth, which comes at a cost to the provider and would likely be passed on to customers. Where some could see this as a vital service, I see it more as a value-added optional service, something providers could charge money for – something I am surprised they haven’t been doing all the long, especially with people leaving AOL in droves! I also disagree with the analogy to forwarding physical, US Mail, as I can tell you personally that this does not always work!

The best way to handle this is to register your own domain name and have your email go to an address at the name. A domain name is portable and separate from your Internet provider. You could choose to have an email alias or a mailbox. The flexibility is there for a small amount of cost, much less than what I would assume a provider would charge for email forwarding.

Naturally when I saw this story I checked if the domain name gailmortenson.com was registered. It is and appears to be in the name of an Internet provider in Maryland, near where Ms. Mortenson lives. Maybe she read The Hot Iron previously and decided to make the right move?

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