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Study Guide

  • America Online's Crusade Against Spam
    • The Cyber Promotions Case
      • In early 1995, Cyber Promotions goes into business as Promo Enterprises to deliver bulk e-mail advertisements.
      • In February of 1996, in response to the bulk e-mail sent to its users by Cyber Promotions, America Online collects all of the undeliverable bulk e-mails and sends them back en masse to Cyber Promotions, crashing their provider.
      • On April 8, 1996, America Online sues Cyber Promotions.
      • On October 7, 1997, Cyber Promotions sues America Online.
      • Cyber Promotions appeals, and the cases are consolidated into one case.
      • The settlement they reach says that Cyber Promotions can still send junk e-mail to America Online users, but must use only a limited number of domain names so that America Online's default spam filter will delete them. However, America Online is forced to periodically remind it's users they are currently blocking known spammers, and can choose to remove the filter if they so choose. Both sides claim victory.
    • The Over the Air Equipment Case
      • In early 1997, Over the Air Equipment sends out bulk e-mail to America Online members advertising pornography sites.
      • To avoid America Online's spam filters, Over the Air Equipment forges e-mail headers, counterfeiting route information, and even uses America Online's trademark to appear that the advertised site was America Online approved.
      • America Online make ask them repeatedly to stop spamming.
      • After the e-mail continues, on October 2, 1997, America Online sues Over the Air Equipment.
      • In the ruling, Over the Air Equipment is barred from sending junk e-mail to America Online members and is forced to pay America Online a large sum.
    • The Christian Brothers Case
      • Beginning in 1997, the Christian Brothers begin to illegally obtain America Online e-mail addresses, and eventually send out more than 20 million e-mails advertising apricot seeds as a cure for cancer, fraudulently using America Online's trademark.
      • In February of 1998, America Online sends the Christian Brothers a cease-and-desist order.
      • The spamming continues, so on December 18, 1998, America Online sues the Christian Brothers and their president, Jason Vale.
      • The ruling, brought down in , barres the Christian Brothers from sending any further e-mails to America Online members, and forces them to pay America Online over $600,00 in damages.
    • Other Cases
  • The Canter-Siegel case: abuse of bulletin boards.
    • Profligate cross-posting leads to an avalanche of protests.
      • On April 12, 1994, two Phoenix lawyers posted a message to almost all Internet newsgroups.
      • In response, they were deluged with complaints.
        • E-mail messages, fax attacks, phantom phone beeper, threats.
      • But they also received a lot of business.
      • Their Internet access provider, Internet Direct, Inc. (search on Jeff Wheelhouse), of Phoenix, cancelled their account.
      • However, Canter theatened a $250,000 lawsuit against Internet Direct, claiming that is how much business they would lose
      • Canter & Siegel agreed with their service provider, PSI, to stop spamming the net.
      • February 12, 1995, PSI cancelled thier account after more spams.
      • Earlier, Canter and Siegel had been in legal trouble.
        • Their law licenses were suspended in 1987 by the state bar associations of FL & TN.
          • for conduct that the FL Supreme Court deemed "contrary to honesty."
        • They resigned from the FL bar in 1988 rather than fight subsequent allegations of neglect and misappropriation of client funds.
        • Canter & Siegel continue their advertising on the Internet, through Cybersell.
        • March 1st, 1995, Canter & Siegel wrote a book outlining their advertising methods, How to Make a Fortune on the Information Superhighway.

  • Jeff Slaton case: another abuser

  • Electronic countermeasures were developed to defend against spamming:
    • Cancelbotshttp://courses.ncsu.edu/howdoi/bilibrary/locksm.gif are programs written to remove offending posts.
      • Many of the people who control the programs remain anonymous.
      • The most famous spam canceller, CancelMoose, has been considered the Wyatt Earp of the Internet(search on 'Cancelmoose') by the majority of Usenet denizens. He has also been accused of censorship.
    • Listserv which connects all sites running this software to a main site which can monitor for spamming and alert all sites.
    • Site kill files allow you to filter out unwanted articles.
    • E-mail bombs is a common response to spammers by the Usenet denizans.

  • Other countermeasures are employed:

  • Some of the ethical questions raised by these cases:
    • Is spamming a form of free speech or should it be prohibited?
    • If spam is going to be removed from the newsgroups, who decides what messages are spam?
    • Should the government step in?
    • Are the denizans of the Internet justified in their responses to spammers?

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