November 20, 1997 5:35 PM PST
Return of the spam king
Spam king Sanford Wallace, perhaps the most hated man on the Net, officially announced that as a last resort to try to legitimize junk email, his company, Cyber Promotions, has teamed up with fellow spammer Walt Rines and an "undisclosed third party" to form a backbone Internet service provider specifically for themselves and their junk-emailing colleagues.
"Within two or three weeks, you're going to start seeing complaints about our network because we allow spam," he said.
Wallace said he joined forces with Rines and the mystery company, which he describes as a start-up telephone company, to "offer direct, high-speed T1 and T3 Internet connections to companies that engage in mass commercial email."
Wallace has been promising that he will build a backbone for more than a month, since he got kicked off backbone provider AGIS. The proof, of course, will be in the pudding.
Wallace insists that his plan is sound.
Though he won't divulge the name of the mystery company until everything is signed and sealed, skeptics won't have long to wonder about it, he promised.
"They're giving us all the network, all the capitalization," Wallace said. "The one thing they won't have is the customer base."
That's where the spammers come into play.
Wallace said customers are lining up and waiting to get access. While spam is still a huge issue on the Internet, spammers have found themselves unwelcome at most ISPs. They tend to go to a provider and spam once or twice before they get kicked off and move along.
Many antispammers equate unsolicited junk email with theft because the junk emailers don't have to pay for the bandwidth they use sending email to others--unlike junk snail mail, where businesses have to pay the post office to carry the letters they send. With email, the recipient has to pay to store the mail, which can cost serious money when it is sent in bulk.
For a time, AGIS allowed spammers to remain on its network. But the provider recently vowed to get rid of those customers.
Now, Wallace says, spammers will have a happy home at Global Technology Marketing Inc., as the new provider will be called--which is not to be confused with Global Telemedia International Inc. or its subsidiary, Log On America.
Still, even Wallace admits that spammers are a difficult lot to manage. Wallace said his goal is to legitimize spam, much in the same way that junk snail mail is considered legitimate. And to do that, he said, spammers will have to adhere to strict rules, such as no pornography and no hijacking other people's mail servers to send spam.
Others contend that because of the way the Internet works, spam in any form can never be legitimate.
But Wallace says the success or failure of his network will depend on spammers following the rules.
Spam fighters have repeatedly stated that they don't believe Wallace or most spammers, for that matter, because their bottom line is to make money.
Though Wallace readily acknowledges that his goal is to make money, he added that it makes sense to have spammers follow rules.
"We have an incentive to control the spammers because there are going to be laws if we don't," he said. He noted that there might be legislation banning spam even if they do comply.
He added that the network will supply free filtering software that will specifically filter out spam from his network to anyone who requests it.
"The only thing that's going to turn us off is either a law or the antispammers finding a way to attack us to the ground," he said.
Wallace added that if the network doesn't work, then he will officially throw in the towel.
"If this doesn?t work, nothing will," he said. "If it doesn't go, then that's it for me--I'm done."
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