AOL Refutes Report Its AIM, ICQ Are Talking

America Online Inc. is refuting a report
today that suggests it has enabled communication between its two instant messaging applications at the same time it is keeping at bay companies with competing software.

The Wall Street Journal said that it is now possible for many users
of ICQ, an instant messaging network purchased by AOL two years
ago, "to sign on to AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) and communicate
with other ICQ users."

Removing the barriers between AOL's ICQ and its market-leading AIM
service is a sensitive issue at a time when regulators
contemplating the company's purchase of Time Warner are reportedly
eyeing AOL's policy of locking other providers out of the AIM network.

But AOL spokeswoman Tricia Primrose told Newsbytes that ICQ users
haven't been communicating across the AIM network. Instead, she
said, the company has been experimenting with AIM's user interface
on ICQ's messaging network.

"This was an eight-month-old R&D test (which) allowed ICQ users to
talk to other ICQ users through an AIM client," she said. "It did
not enable interoperability between ICQ and AIM. You can IM other
ICQ users, but you can't turn around and try to instant message
someone on AIM."

Primrose said AOL is supporting the Internet Engineering Task Force
(IETF) effort to devise standard protocols for instant messaging
interoperability and that users are likely to see AIM and ICQ
communicating at the same time an open standard is available for
all competitors.

AOL's only proviso, she said, is that the standards adopted by the
IETF must protect users' privacy and security "... not take what is
a wonderfully useful communications tool and ruin it with spam and
hacking and viruses, and all that stuff that we have to live with
in e-mail."

Primrose said AOL submitted its own draft specification to the IETF
in June.

"We're a part of that process," she said. "We're working on it
internally and were working on it with the IETF. We are committed
to interoperability, so long as those standards protect consumers'
privacy and security."

The AIM home page is at:

ICQ can be found here:

The IETF is at:

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