February 18, 1997 5:15 PM PST

ISP: Internet spam provider

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You might call it spam heaven.

Cyber Promotions, tired of getting the boot from unhappy Internet service providers for sending out mass email, has found a perfect solution to the spammer's dilemma. On March 17, it will open its own ISP where junk emailers will not only be accepted, but welcomed with open arms.

Sanford Wallace, president of Cyber Promotions, calls it a "bullet proof dial-up network" where, for $50 a month, customers can send mass unsolicited commercial email with impunity "as long as they honor 'remove' lists and adhere to all local, state and federal laws," according to Wallace.

Cyber Promotions has been kicked off of at least 20 ISPs in less than three years. But Wallace said he solved that ISP problem several months ago by getting bandwidth from several different small providers.

But Ron Guilmette, a software engineer developing an antispam program called DeadBolt, which can be used to block spam-generating domain names, uses decidedly less flattering terms to describe Wallace's venture.

Guilmette, who has made stopping spam on the Net his life's work (his passion dates to 1995 when he received a neo-Nazi spam), said Wallace will continue to have a hard time finding the bandwidth to launch a service.

"He can set up some little podunk attempt, but soon as he does, his upstreams are going to get the message loud and clear that you just signed up a loser," Guilmette said. "He'll be on for a little while. Ultimately, you might as well tell him he just might give it up now because he's never going to find a permanent home. The reality is he's been chased out of everywhere he's hooked up to. We'll continue to chase him until there are no dark corners for him to hide."

Guilmette added that he intends to use his program, to be released in mid-April, to filter out any addresses coming from Wallace's new ISP. It will be free for noncommercial individual use and to Linux users.

Like America Online's (AOL) antispam program, PreferredMail, DeadBolt can block by domain name. But, Guilmette said, it can also block by IP address. And IP addresses take more time to get than domain names.

Wallace said he has plenty of IP addresses. But, he hastened to add, that didn't matter because Cyber Promotions has no desire to send email to people who don't want it.

"If it's the end user blocking, we have no problem with that," Wallace said. He objects to systems that block email as a whole, without letting the individual decide.

If a user wants to block mail, Wallace said, that's fine with him. "We only want mail to go to people who want to get it. Believe it or not, we've never wanted to send mail to people who don't want to get it."

He added that he wouldn't exactly call his service a spammer's paradise. "I'd just say it's a free world."

To people like Guilmette who say that Cyber Promotions' day has come and gone, Wallace added: "Some people said the same thing about Madonna. She's [still] a very big star."

 

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