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America Online to institute fee-based service

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Political group MoveOn.org Civic Action, the AFL-CIO labor union and other organizations have criticized the service, which will charge senders a fee to route their messages directly to AOL users' mailboxes without first passing through AOL junk mail filters.

AOL, a unit of Time Warner Inc., contends the system will help it reduce spam because only legitimate senders of mass e-mail are likely to pony up the fee — ranging from 1/4 cent to 1 cent per message. But critics say the system will end up blocking many e-mails from groups that can't afford the fee.

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