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[debate] Spammer ordered to stop (fwd)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sat, 12 Oct 1996 11:51:55 -0400 (EDT)
From: Ronda Hauben <rh120@columbia.edu>
To: netizens@columbia.edu
Subject: [netz] (fwd) Spammer ordered to stop

This was posted on comp.dcom.telecom - and I  thought it 
would be interesting to those on the Netizens Association Mailing


Date: Thu, 10 Oct 1996 13:38:53 -0700
From: tsw@3do.com (Tom Watson)
Newsgroups: comp.dcom.telecom
Subject: Spammer ordered to stop
Message-ID: <telecom16.539.1@massis.lcs.mit.edu>
Organization: The 3DO Corporation
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X-Telecom-Digest: Volume 16, Issue 539, Message 1 of 17
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Article from today's San Jose Mercury News (front page):

Firm ordered to stop sending mass e-mail ads

By Howard Bryant
Mercury News Staff Writer

Spam is now officially in trouble on the Internet.

A U.S. District Court judge in San Jose this week ordered an on-line
marketing firm to stop ``spamming'' -- sending unsolicited e-mail
advertisements to Internet users. It's thought to be the first time a
court has forced a halt to the practice, which has long been
considered a legal but otherwise despised violation of cyberspace

``This is another indication that junk e-mailers don't have the right
to flood the Internet or people's e-mail accounts,'' said Andrew
Graziani of America Online, which has been fighting a yearlong battle
against spam.  ``This is an absolute groundbreaker.''

Monday's ruling stems from a suit filed last week by Concentric
Network Corp., a Cupertino-based Internet service provider, against
Cyber Promotions Inc., a Philadelphia on-line marketing firm. The suit
alleges Cyber Promotions gained access to Concentric's e-mail
accounts, flooding them and other corporate networks that Concentric
runs with unwanted advertisements.

Concentric argued it was hurt because the spamming falsely identified it
as the sender of the messages, since the advertisements appear to have
been sent from another Concentric account.

``The average user doesn't know they are being spammed,'' said
Concentric CEO Hank Nothhaft. ``All they know is they think we're the
ones sending it. We lose our credibility.''

Slowdown alleged

Concentric also says the flood of undesired e-mail, which began last
March to potentially thousands of subscribers, caused a severe
slowdown in Concentric's network. The company said that over Labor Day
weekend, for example, the problem was so bad that a typical e-mail
message, which normally would take about five seconds to transmit,
instead took more than 10 hours.

All told, the spamming cost Concentric an unspecified loss of
subscribers, profits and prestige, Nothhaft said.

Monday, Judge Ronald White ruled that Cyber Promotions must agree under
the penalty of perjury to cease spamming Concentric's network.

Cyber Promotions President Sanford Wallace did not return phone calls, but
said in a written statement that he and his company would comply with the
judge's order.

``This is a groundbreaking ruling, but the case is far from over,''
said David Kramer, attorney for Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati,
the Palo Alto law firm that represented Concentric. ``No litigation
has ever taken on spamming head-on. This is definitely a step in the
right direction.''

More court action

The case will continue on an as-yet-unscheduled date in San Jose, when
Kramer said Concentric will seek a preliminary injunction against
Cyber Promotions, in addition to Monday's order.

While there have been previous cases seeking to end spamming, no court
is yet believed to have done so.

For most of this year, America Online has been embroiled in a spamming
spat with Cyber Promotions. Last month, a U.S. District Court in
Philadelphia ruled that AOL could not prohibit Cyber Promotions from
sending advertisements to its 5 million subscribers, but that AOL
could take steps to block them.

Two cases, two rulings

It wasn't immediately clear what the difference between the AOL and
Concentric cases is. But it may lie in the fact that with AOL, Cyber
Promotions was sending messages only to other AOL users, while with
Concentric, it was sending ads beyond Concentric's e-mail subscribers.

Concentric is now trying to determine how much damage Cyber Promotions
has caused it by spamming its subscribers, Nothhaft said.

``It is very difficult, but we are certain we've had a loss of
customers, either directly from the spamming or from the resulting
poor service,'' he said. ``Customer satisfaction and a loss of
credibility are hard to measure, but we're sure we've had a loss of
both because of this.''


Tom Watson
tsw@3do.com         (Home: tsw@johana.com)