April 30, 1997 2:00 PM PDT

New spam filters arrive

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Antispammers today unleashed more weapons to combat what has become the scourge of the Net: unsolicited email.

At least three companies introduced software or new policies aimed against junk emailing, one of the most heated topics on the Internet today. While unsolicited emailers insist that they have every right to send out their spam, opponents counter that the missives are at least irritating and at worst a great expense to the rest of the Net.

Just yesterday, for instance, spammers slowed down Netcom, one of the largest Internet service providers on the Net. They also have been known to shut down small ISPs with email congestion.

But Cyber Promotions president Sanford Wallace, one of the Net's most ubiquitous junk emailers and one of the most hated personalities on the Net, says that spam can be handled responsibly and that he has no desire to deliver it to those who don't want it.

However, Netizens have said repeatedly that the junk mail they are getting, including that of Cyber Promotions, is unwanted. They are now trying to take their best shot at eliminating it any way they can, by tossing spammers from Internet service providers, using filtering programs to get rid of junk email, or asking the courts to bar junk emailers.

Today, for instance, Solid Oak Software, the manufacturers of Net filtering software CyberSitter, announced a junk-email filter. Re:PLY allows users to filter their own email for spam, the company said.

Solid Oak will continually update a list of known spammers that software owners can continually download. The program also allows users complete control over filters so they can add or subtract names at will. Wallace said that he also uses a spam filter and that he supports such efforts.

EarthLink has also gone public with its battle against spam. It said it is going after Cyber Promotions in court and is adopting a "zero tolerance" program against spam.

Wallace said EarthLink has already failed in two attempts to get a Los Angeles Superior Court judge to issue a temporary restraining order stopping Cyber Promotions from sending junk email. EarthLink is trying to get the courts to stop him and people who use Cyber Promotions permanently from flooding its members with spam.

Another sort of filter has emerged from a company called Netiquette.net. Its program allows spammers to send their email lists through a filter of people who have said they don't want junk email. This program is similar to one introduced by Apex Global Information Services last week.

Antispammers are skeptical that it will work and in fact have often said that the only true way to eliminate spam is to make it illegal.

 

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