April 13, 1998 6:05 PM PDT

Spam king retires

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Former spam king Sanford Wallace has officially renounced his throne.

The notorious former junk emailer said today that he is tired and not only is he out of the spam business, he's also now giving up the email business altogether.

For several weeks now, Wallace has said he is no longer going to send unsolicited junk email. Now he's extended that to any kind of junk email--even somewhat solicited email.

As late as last week, Wallace said he was working on building a backbone network from which he could send mass email.

The network, dubbed Global Technology Marketing Incorporated (GTMI), may still come to fruition. Wallace's partner, Walt Rines, is still trying to launch the network.

The plan is for GTMI to pay Internet service providers to carry email advertisements to customers. Customers, in turn, could receive discounted Net access in exchange for their willingness to get junk email, much in the same way that Netizens will accept ads in their free email accounts.

"Walt is still working on the project," Wallace said today. "I'm just not going to be part of it. I'm tired. I'm going back to the low-profile days."

Wallace, once one of the Net's most exuberant junk emailers, used to relish in the attention that spamming got him--even when the attention was negative.

But four years of "fighting the world," as he put it, have taken their toll. Wallace has seemingly spent nearly as much time in court fighting for the right to send unsolicited junk email as he has building a business. Despite several losses in court, Wallace said his company, Cyber Promotions, still made money.

In fact, he said his decision to quit was not based on financial considerations. "This is definitely one of the more emotional decisions I've made," he said.

On Saturday, Wallace sent a note to the newsgroup "net.admin.net-abuse.email," informing participants he was getting out of the junk email business and not supporting GTMI. Last week he had said he would back a strong antispam bill in exchange for antispammers' support of GTMI's business model. But now he's saying the hassle of trying to mount the business is too much.

For instance, he said, even if he had done everything right, an unscrupulous spammer could have forged an unsolicited email from GTMI and gotten the whole thing shut down.

"I will never go back to spamming," Wallace wrote to the antispam activists. He also said that he still will support the antispam legislation, the Netizens Protection Act.

And, as he did earlier, he conceded victory to his enemies. "You folks are winning the war against spam," he wrote. "My fight is over. If you keep it ethical and legal you will eventually stamp out all of the spewing crap."

Now, of course, it remains to be seen whether Wallace is true to his word.

But even if he is, antispammers would be the first to say that the war is far from over. Wallace has been out of the scene for months, but spam is still proliferating.

 

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