What is an ISP?

By | October 5, 2011
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An ISP is an Internet Service Provider. In today’s world, there aren’t many pure ISPs left – most are huge media companies like Time Warner, Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T. An ISP is supposed to provide you with Internet access. That’s what you’re paying an ISP to provide. Just like you pay the gas company to provide you with natural gas, or the electric company to provide you with electricity, you pay your ISP to provide you with Internet access.

Somehow, somewhere, ISPs decided that besides providing you with Internet access they’s also provide a censoring service – to protect you from spam. In doing so, many ISPs filter incoming mail using not-so-sophisticated software which many times ends up throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Yes, we agree that spam is a problem, but a bigger problem is losing that one important email – an order confirmation, a software registration key, an email from a long-lost friend, an email from your bank or credit card company, our even our InfoAve Premium newsletter.

There’s been a great shift in our society from one of taking care of one’s own responsibilities to allowing others to do everything for us. Of course when you stop taking care of the things you should be responsible for and allow another to do it for you, you give up something very important – control. Allowing your ISP to delete email addressed to you – even if it is spam – is to give your ISP control over what email you’ll receive. Considering that no spam filter even comes close to being 100% accurate (most are well below 80%)  giving control to your ISP means you’re going to miss some – maybe many – important emails.

Sure it’s a hassle to deal with spam – there’s a lot of it. But it doesn’t take more than a few minutes to delete spam. It can take you hours – even days to track down a good email that was deleted by your ISP as spam. It will require writing emails to the sender, your ISP and waiting for answers. And even worse, when an important email was sent to you and you have no idea it was sent because you weren’t expecting it and had no idea it was coming. If your ISP deletes it, you’ll never see it because you never even knew it existed. If you order something online and you don’t get a confirming email, don’t assume the merchant didn’t send it. If you order a software program online that requires a registration key to be sent to you via email, don’t assume the vendor didn’t send it. If you subscribe to a newsletter like InfoAve Premium, and you don’t get it on Friday, don’t assume we didn’t send it. If you’re one of the millions of people whose ISP users spam filtering, your first assumption should be your ISP deleted it as spam.

And if you write to your ISP and they tell you that they don’t delete email or don’t use spam filtering take it with a grain of salt. We have copies of letters from ISPs to customers in which the ISP flat-out lied to the customer.

ISPs have no legal right to delete any email addressed to you – but they do. They claim there is so much spam they need to filter email to save money or to save server resources. But that’s just another lie. It takes more server resources to run spam filters and to delete spam than to just send the spam to the addressee. So why do they do it then? Because there’s a certain segment of the population that sees spam filtering as a service. It’s no more a service than if the U. S. Postal Service started tossing mail addressed to you because it looked like junk mail. Not many people would stand for the USPS trashing their mail because the post office didn’t think they’d want it. But somehow people think that ISP’s are doing them a favor by tossing emails they THINK are spam.

If you think your ISP is doing you a favor by deleting spam for you, think again. If your ISP uses spam filtering there is a 100% chance you’re not getting all of your good email because no spam filter is even close to 100% effective. When you stop taking personal responsibility for things  you should be responsible for, and you allow someone disinterested third-party to do it for you, you aren’t always going to be happy with the result.

As ISPs get more and more powerful, there may come a day when ISPs will decide to provide a “service” that will scan your downloads for you, or “rate” the Web sites you visit for you and keep you “safe” by preventing you from seeing a site that they deem dangerous. There may come a day when ISPs monitor your connection and prevent you from downloading songs or movies  because they are trying to “protect” you from getting into trouble for piracy. And all these things are things ISPs are very capable of doing – and may well do if people allow them to do it. All they have to do is convince you that having big brother watching out for you is a good idea and that they can do a better job of making decisions for you than you can.

But all this is nothing new – it’s been done before – it’s been done a lot. It’s called censorship. Censorship is always sold to the citizenry as a good thing. It’s always sold as a way to protect YOU from what someone else deems inappropriate or dangerous.

ISPs will continue to sell the masses on the advantages of spam filtering. They’ll continue to filter mail and toss good emails out with the bad. And the only reason so many do it today is because people let them do it.  And the more you let someone do for you the more they will want to do for you.

Isn’t it time you stood up and took responsibility for your own email and stop letting ISPs control what email you receive and what email you don’t? If you allow you ISP to censor email addressed to you we will guarantee you that you will never get 100% of the good email you want – and you’ll still get some spam.

You’re paying your ISP to provide you with the best connection to the Internet possible and email service – and that’s it. You’re not paying them to delete email.  It’s time that ISPs got out of the censorship business and take care of the service for which you’re paying them – a reliable Internet connection and uncensored email.

Give it some thought.

11 thoughts on “What is an ISP?



  2. Andy

    Don’t know what all the fuss is about. My ISP Moves suspected Spam into a “Spam Folder” which I can check. I’ve never yet found anything in that folder which was not genuine Spam. If I were to receive non-spam there, I can easily retrieve it.

    Nevertheless………. carry on! with the good work you do.


  3. John in Oz

    Excellent advice, TC & EB.
    In Australia we have a LABOR GOVERNMENT who are trying to censor our Internet. I paid for MY computer. I PAY for an Internet connection. I am an honourable, honest citizen and I have a right to use the Internet for any reason I choose, providing I do not break any law relating to my activity, and I will not allow anyone to censor MY mail or activities.

  4. John in Oz

    I have a MailWasher programme which allows me to see my email on the server BEFORE I download it, therefore I can determine what is sp*am and delete it or ‘bounce it back’ to the sender. I can also ‘red flag’ any email, which teaches the programme to recognize sp*am, sc*ams and other junk email.
    Kind regards,
    John in Oz.

    1. Jancie M.

      So do I John..I check first thing every day…so I don’t lose one important email anymore. Believe me, before I realized just what to do, in order to get at all my emails before downloading, I lost plenty of GOOD emails!

  5. Dave c

    I too wonder what all the fuss is about, I have used two ISP’s where I live and have had no problem whatsoever either getting or not getting my spam.
    While we’re on the subject do you think you could stop going on and on so much and cut to the chase.
    Dave c

    1. infoave Post author

      It’s always good to not look at the world through a narrow lens. We don’t deal with just one or two ISPs, we deal with hundreds. Each week, we get dozens and dozens of emails from people who didn’t receive their InfoAve Premium newsletter. This is a newsletter for which they’ve paid a small subscription fee. There isn’t a week that has gone by – over 400 weeks – when some ISPs haven’t blocked our newsletter as spam. And each week, we spend several hours, writing to those subscribers and digging down to finding out why they didn’t receive the newsletter. And we’ve written thousands of emails to these subscribers over the years showing them that their ISP blocked our newsletter as spam.

      So while it may not affect you – or your two ISPs – it affects many – it affects millions actually. And the one thing that all the people we have helped have in common is that none of them thought their ISP was blocking their mail. The only reason it became apparent to them is because they had come to expect our newsletter every Friday. And when it didn’t come, they noticed. So if you’re not expecting an email, how do you know it didn’t come?

      That’s what all the fuss is about – the fuss is about the millions of people who are having their email censored or filtered if you prefer. It is a big deal even though it may not affect you at all.

  6. Arnie Brown

    Thanks for this folks. I checked my IPS provider and found a place that I had not checked of. Correction has been made.

    Arnie in Nova Scotia

  7. Donna Coulter

    Thanks for all your help. I don’t mind reading your explanations— they are necessary for many of us. David C should not be so picky. My ISP is doing a fine job even if I do get too many ‘cou*pons. It is, as you say easy to delete them.
    Donna C

  8. Vince Fricano

    TC & EB
    Due to a medical issue I was away from my computer for 45 days. When I returned and turned on my computer I opened my Vista Winmail and found I received 205 e-mails in my inbox. I also found 598 emails in my Junkbox. Yes, there were some personal friendly e-mails among the Junk. However I just sent them to the “not junk mail”, Then deleted all the obvious “Junk”. I would like to know how does the ISP (Comcast) determmine where to send the “Junk” and where to send the “Good”
    since some is to the wrong box. Thanks

  9. Muriel Schlecht

    I, too, have had several ISP’s. I “expect” to receive lots of emails every single day…maybe 200 or more every morning, and more throughout the day. I also use an email client on my own computer. I can’t stand visiting my ISP’s online mailbox to check a “spam” filter 2/3 times a day. I’m lucky enough to have an ISP that allows me to turn my spam filter OFF. When I did that, the actual spam I received when I downloaded my email was cut to less than a quarter of what I had to wade through on the website. That’s simply because of how the spam filters work. It doesn’t care about my complete address, only the first 3/4 charters in it. So the spam emails put in the spam folder were really addressed to everybody that shared those 3/4 characters. Check the addressees in YOUR spam folders. Why on earth would I want to spend time in a spam folder looking for the emails that shouldn’t be there. What a waste. AND then, of course, there’s the mail that gets “bounced”….the ones that you don’t even know were sent. In my case, my ISP “bounced” updates and information emails from a paid-for education course, and several other newsletters and updates from a membership site that I had paid big bucks for. I have not received emails from my brother….they were bounced and never even made it to a spam filter, just because he sent them from work. I could go on and on and on, and I haven’t even mentioned the “content” filtering because my sister happened to suggest a website I might like, and the “filter” didn’t like it, and a really lengthy email that my cousin sent describing her vacation in Europe. The “content” filter didn’t like the length of the email.

    And now? you’ll never guess! My ISP has decided to filter my OUTGOING mail. Unlike my incoming mail, I DO NOT
    have the option to turn that OFF. Also, unlike the phony sales pitch ISP’s give us re “protecting” us. Can somebody please tell me WHY they have they think they have the right to scan my Outgoing mail? And don’t suggest they want to make sure I’M not spamming. That’s when my ISP told me. It’s crock. I hope somebody can tell me the REAL reason. I may get lots of emails, but I don’t send more than 3 or 4 a day, and the only group I send to is a list of about 11. A spammer would send hundreds at a time. What I hope and pray for most is that the FCC or DOJ, with copies to your ISP, would get thousands of emails complaining about this “censorship”.


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