MAIL ABUSE PREVENTION SYSTEM (MAPS)
950 Charter St.
Redwood City, CA 94063
MAIL ABUSE PREVENTION SYSTEM LISTS EXACTIS MAIL SERVERS IN REALTIME BLACKHOLE LIST; EXACTIS FILES LAWSUIT
For Immediate Release
Redwood City, CA, November 15, 2000 -- Mail Abuse Prevention System LLC listed approximately 150 mail servers belonging to Exactis, a subsidiary of 24/7 Media (Nasdaq: TFSM), in the MAPS Realtime Blackhole List ("RBL") today. The decision to list Exactis' mail servers occured after Exactis repudiated a previously negotiated agreement to implement measures which would have prevented unsolicited bulk and commercial email from being sent through Exactis' mail servers, as well as ensuring that addresses on Exactis' own mailing lists were fully verified.
In return, Exactis has filed a lawsuit in U.S. Federal District Court, in Denver, Colorado, in which they assert that "Exactis transmits approximately 500 million emails each month" and that "it is Exactis' client, and not Exactis, who determine which consumers should receive what information based upon the requests and permission provided by those consumers."
The RBL is a database, which is updated in real time, containing the Internet addresses of Internet sites which have been proven to ei ther allow their users to send spam directly, or which allow others to send spam using their resources. Subscriber sites may, at their discretion, choose to block traffic from these sites in order to reduce the burden that spam places on their networks.
"Unfortunately, we felt that we had no choice but to proceed with the RBL listing of Exactis", said Peter Popovich, Director of Online Operations for MAPS. "We have been working with Exactis since April, and yet we continue to receive credible and actionable reports of unsolicited bulk e-mail from Exactis' mail servers. Exactis claims in their lawsuit that "Exactis has adopted the standards recently approved by the Responsible Electronic Communication Alliance ("RECA")", which is ironic, both because RECA's standards are still clearly in the draft, not approved, phase, and RECA has specifically sought input from MAPS, along with other organizations, in developing those standards."
MAPS and Exactis reached an agreement in Spring 2000, specifying that Exactis would implement fully verified opt-in list management practices for all of their e-mail lists as well as those of their clients. "Although Exactis had previously made us aware that some agreed upon items might be completed later than MAPS had expected, we were assured that the delay would be limited to a few clients and reasonably brief. However, Exactis has repudiated the agreeement. Exactis is not following through on their commitment, and as a result we feel that we have no other option in stemming the steady stream of unsolicited email flowing from their mail servers but to list them in our RBL database. It is our last recourse in protecting our own network from receiving this unsolicited commercial email", added Popovich.
MAPS is based in Redwood City, California and provides spam prevention resources to systems administrators, as well as services to end users. For more information, please contact Anne P. Mitchell, Esq., Director of Legal and Public Affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or (650) 444-0346.
November 16, 2000
The anti-spam organization Mail Abuse Prevention System will be heading back into the courtroom, this time as a result of a lawsuit by 24/7 Media. The ad network, serving and marketing technology company filed the suit in response to MAPS' adding its e-mail servers to its database Tuesday evening.
The Realtime Blackhole List database contains the Internet addresses of e-mail servers that MAPS determines to be used by spammers. Many of the largest national ISPs subscribe to the RBL, and have the option of blocking traffic from its listed addresses.
About 150 mail servers belonging to 24/7's e-mail technology subsidiary Exactis were placed on the RBL.
In return, Denver-based Exactis filed a lawsuit in its local U.S. district court, asserting that their clients, "and not Exactis ... determine which consumers should receive what information based upon the requests and permission provided by those consumers." In other words, that Exactis should not be held responsible for unsolicited commercial e-mail sent by clients, for whom it handles delivery of bulk e-mail.
MAPS said it began investigating complaints against spam from Exactis servers in April. According to MAPS, the two reached a deal shortly thereafter, in which Exactis agreed that it would prevent unsolicited e-mail from being sent through its servers, and would ensure that addresses on Exactis' own e-mail lists were fully verified.
"Unfortunately, we felt that we had no choice but to proceed with the RBL listing of Exactis," said MAPS online operations director Peter Popovich. "We have been working with Exactis since April, and yet we continue to receive credible and actionable reports of unsolicited bulk e-mail from Exactis' mail servers.
"Exactis is not following through on their commitment, and as a result we feel that we have no other option in stemming the steady stream of unsolicited e-mail flowing from their mail servers but to list them in our RBL database. It is our last recourse in protecting our own network from receiving this unsolicited commercial e-mail," Popovich said.
MAPS Director of Legal and Public Affairs Anne Mitchell said that responsibility falls on Exactis to ensure that its clients are not sending spam.
"In our agreement, [Exactis] agreed that they would approach all of their clients to make sure they were doing fully verified opt-in, and that if they weren't by a certain date, that they would have to abide by that, or they wouldn't be able to transit their e-mail with us."
A representative from 24/7 Media declined immediate comment.
Mitchell added that lawsuits -- of which MAPS has seen its share lately -- are one of the most effective means to legitimize anti-spam efforts like the RBL.
"The ultimate way to deal with the problem of spam is .., by law being made. And MAPS happens to feel that one of the ways it's going to happen is through lawsuits," she said. "Not that we enjoy lawsuits, but when we have challenges to what we're doing and they're upheld by the court, that sort of does help ... define and also refine the laws of interstate electronic commerce, as it relates to bulk e-mail."
The Redwood City, Calif.-based organization has previously been sued by several e-mail technology companies and clients. A suit against MAPS by CMGI's Yesmail, which operates similarly to Exactis, ended in August with Yesmail agreeing to use only fully verified lists.
In July, online polling firm Harris Interactive filed suits against MAPS and several of its subscribing ISPs, including America Online and Microsoft's MSN Hotmail. The company dropped its lawsuits in September after Hotmail agreed to accept its e-mail.
InternetNews Radio host Brian McWilliams contributed to this story.
November 17, 2000
Ad server and technology company 24/7 Media succeeded in getting a temporary restraining order against anti-spam non-profit Mail Abuse Prevention System, on behalf of 24/7's e-mail marketing subsidiary, 24/7 Exactis.
The order prohibits MAPS from listing mail servers belonging to Denver-based Exactis -- which delivers mass e-mail to recipients based on lists provided by clients -- on MAPS' Realtime Blackhole List.
The RBL database lists e-mail servers that MAPS determines to be used by spammers. Many of the largest national ISPs subscribe to the RBL, and use the service to determine whether to block incoming e-mail addressed to their subscribers.
About 150 mail servers belonging to 24/7's e-mail technology subsidiary Exactis were placed on the RBL.
Friday's U.S. District court order forces MAPS and its subscribing ISPs to remove those servers from the RBL, and also to rescind any comments to ISPs that suggest that 24/7 sends spam.
"We don't believe that any reasonable observer could contend that we are spammers," said Cindy Brown, senior vice president and general manager at Exactis. "We support industry best practices and have been leaders in the prevention of spam."
A MAPS official testified during proceedings that Exactis, which has sent more than four billion e-mails in 2000, was cited in fewer than a dozen complaints during this period.
With the order, 24/7 officials said that the company had been unfairly and unjustly added to the RBL.
"Following months of constructive negotiations," read a statement from the company Friday, "MAPS abruptly and without warning" placed Exactis on the RBL.
But MAPS officials on Thursday told the media that 24/7 was to blame. The group said it began investigating complaints against spam from Exactis servers as early as April.
According to MAPS, the two groups reached a deal shortly thereafter, in which Exactis agreed that it would prevent unsolicited e-mail from being sent through its servers, and would ensure that addresses on Exactis' own e-mail lists were fully verified.
MAPS online operations director Peter Popovich said the organization had been working Exactis since then yet continued to receive reports of unsolicited bulk mail from the company's mail servers.
"Exactis is not following through on their commitment, and as a result we feel that we have no other option in stemming the steady stream of unsolicited e-mail flowing from their mail servers but to list them in our RBL database," Popovich said Thursday.
MAPS Director of Legal and Public Affairs Anne Mitchell Thursday added that responsibility falls on Exactis to ensure that its clients are not sending spam.
At the time, 24/7 withheld comment.
But following the ruling Friday, company officials were quick to point out what they considered MAPS' misconduct.
"24/7 Media delivers more outbound e-mail than any other company and manages the largest global database of fully permissioned e-mail addresses," said 24/7 chief executive officer David Moore. "Thus, we have more to gain than anyone from the promotion of legitimate methods of controlling unsolicited bulk e-mail.
"We are actively encouraging all members of the industry to work together to develop definitive industry standards final guidelines that reflect consensus. We do not, however, believe that extortionate vigilante control of the Internet is the appropriate mechanism for achieving this worthy ends."
Exactis also has a pending lawsuit asserting that its clients -- and not Exactis -- should be held responsible for unsolicited commercial e-mail sent by clients, for whom it handles delivery of bulk e-mail.
The Redwood City, Calif.-based MAPS has previously been sued by several e-mail technology companies and clients. A suit against MAPS by CMGI's Yesmail, which operates similarly to Exactis, ended in August with Yesmail agreeing to use only fully verified lists.
In July, online polling firm Harris Interactive filed suits against MAPS and several of its subscribing ISPs, including America Online and Microsoft's MSN Hotmail. The company dropped its lawsuits in September after Hotmail agreed to accept its e-mail.
Representatives from MAPS were unable to comment on the ruling because the suit also contains a gag order, but earlier in the week, Anne Mitchell, the group's director of legal and public affairs, said that MAPS feels lawsuits are the best way to win court sanction for its anti-spam efforts.
Friday November 17, 2000, 11:21 am Eastern Time
NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 17, 2000--24/7 Media (Nasdaq: TFSM), one of the largest global interactive marketing and technology solutions companies, today announced that the U.S. District Court in Denver has issued a temporary restraining order against the Mail Abuse Prevention System (``MAPS'').
The order prohibits MAPS from listing 24/7 Media's subsidiary, 24/7 Exactis, on MAPS' Real-time Blackhole List (``RBL''), which some Internet Service Providers (ISPs) use to determine whether to block incoming e-mail addressed to their subscribers.
Earlier this week, following months of constructive negotiations between the parties, MAPS abruptly and without warning placed 24/7 Exactis on the RBL. 24/7 Media filed a lawsuit against MAPS on Wednesday alleging that MAPS unlawfully interfered with the business of 24/7 Exactis and violated antitrust laws by placing 24/7 Exactis on the RBL.
A MAPS witness who testified before the court acknowledged that 24/7 Exactis, which has sent more than four billion e-mails in 2000, was cited in fewer than a dozen complaints during this period.
``We don't believe that any reasonable observer could contend that we are spammers,'' said Cindy Brown, senior vice president and general manager of 24/7 Exactis. ``We support industry best practices and have been leaders in the prevention of spam.''
U.S. District Judge John Kane found that MAPS, in adding 24/7 Exactis to the RBL, was ``irresponsible.'' He ordered MAPS and any others acting in concert with MAPS to remove 24/7 Media from the RBL, and to rescind any comments to ISPs that state or suggest that 24/7 Media sends spam. Judge Kane also found that MAPS' actions deprived consumers of e-mail they had requested.
24/7 Exactis attorney, Bill Leone of Cooley Godward, said, ``We are delighted with the result and appreciate the Court's willingness to review the matter on an emergency basis.''
``24/7 Media delivers more outbound email than any other company and manages the largest global database of fully permissioned email addresses,'' said David J. Moore, Chief Executive Officer of 24/7 Media. ``Thus, we have more to gain than anyone from the promotion of legitimate methods of controlling unsolicited bulk e-mail. We are founding members of the Responsible Electronic Communications Alliance (RECA), which has drafted reasonable guidelines for the collection and administration of email addresses. We are actively encouraging all members of the industry to work together to develop definitive industry standards final guidelines that reflect consensus. We do not, however, believe that extortionate vigilante control of the Internet is the appropriate mechanism for achieving this worthy ends.''
About 24/7 Media, Inc.
24/7 Media Inc. is a leading global provider of end-to-end interactive technology and marketing solutions and services for Web publishers, online advertisers, advertising agencies, e-marketers and e-commerce merchants. 24/7 Media provides a comprehensive suite of media and technology products and services that enable these client groups to attract and retain customers worldwide, and to reap the benefits of interactive and other electronic media. The company's solutions include advertising and direct marketing sales, ad serving, promotions, e-mail list management, e-mail list brokerage, e-mail delivery, data analysis, loyalty marketing, wireless and convergence solutions, all delivered from the company's industry-leading data and technology platforms. The 24/7 Connect ad serving technology solutions are designed specifically for the demands and needs of advertisers and agencies, Web publishers and e-commerce merchants. Based in New York, 24/7 Media Inc. has offices in 51 cities in 28 countries. For more information, please visit www.247media.com.
24/7 Media Mitchell Simmons, 212/231-7916 email@example.com or Fleishman-Hillard Laura Kraft, 213/489-8255 firstname.lastname@example.org
A US District Court in Denver has issued a temporary restraining order on behalf of online marketing gurus, 24/7, against the Mail Abuse Prevention System (MAPS).
24/7 Media went to the court after MAPS included its subsidiary, 24/7 Exactis, in the spammers blacklist the Real Time Blackhole List. The list is used by many ISPs to determine whether or not to block mail coming from a particular address.
24/7 said that it should not have been included in the list. Cindy Brown, the company's senior vice president said: "We don't believe any serious observer could contend that we are spammers."
In a statement released by 24/7, the company said that a MAPS worker had stated, in court, 24/7 Exactis was cited in less than twelve complaints in 2000. During this period, 24/7 says, its Exactis subsidiary sent out more that four billion emails.
The District Judge John Kane found that MAPS had been irresponsible in adding 24/7 Exactis to the RBL.
Legal Jargon Warning: He ordered MAPS and any others acting in concert with MAPS to remove 24/7 Media from the RBL, and to rescind any comments to ISPs that state or suggest that 24/7 Media sends spam.
Judge Kane also found that the inclusion of 24/7 on the RBL actually meant some people did not get emails they had requested.
Dec. 5, 2000 - Exactis.com will be spared the label of Internet spammer at least until a trial in federal court next year, Senior Judge John Kane ruled Monday.
Kane, of U.S. District Court in Denver, continued a restraining order that keeps the Mail Abuse Prevention System, MAPS, from adding Exactis to its "black hole list." Trial was set for May 21.
MAPS targets companies who violate its e-mail marketing guidelines. Internet service providers routinely stop doing business with companies who appear on the list to limit the amount of unsolicited e-mail, called spam, that passes through their networks. Exactis, a Denver-based unit of 24/7 Media Inc., sends about 500 million emails each month on behalf of publishing houses, banks and online information companies.
Exactis, which denies it engages in spamming, has sued MAPS, claiming that MAPS has put its ability to do business in jeopardy.
In arguing that the restraining order should be continued, Exactis attorney William Leone of Cooley Godward said the company had lost two or three clients and was at risk of losing more, partly because Internet service providers were worried that it would end up on the black hole list in the future.
Leone and Martin Litt of Holme Roberts & Owen, who represents MAPS, disagreed over a couple sentences from Judge Kane's order which restrained MAPS from "making any statements detrimental" to Exactis and from taking steps to interfere with its business operations.
Litt argued that the wording was too vague, and that they would risk violating the order by indirect communication with third parties in the course of pre-trial work on the case. Nor would MAPS be allowed to defend itself from attacks by Exactis in the press, which have included being called "extortionate vigilantes," Litt said.
"It amounts to a content-based prior restraint on free speech," Litt said.
But Judge Kane would have none of that argument. "This is not a First Amendment case," he said. "It's a business defamation case."
He said the defense argument reminded him of Carl Sandburg's poem, "The Lawyers Know Too Much," which ends with the line: "Tell me why a hearse horse snickers hauling a lawyer's bones."
Thursday, December 7, 2000
A federal judge in Colorado this week extended and modified the temporary restraining order filed last month by 24/7 Exactis, Denver, against Mail Abuse Prevention System LLC, Redwood City, CA.
The judge also set a trial date of May 21.
U.S. Federal District Court Judge John Kane modified the order, which prevents MAPS from listing Exactis.com, a unit of New York ad firm 24/7 Media Inc., on MAPS' Realtime Blackhole List of alleged spammers. The modification clarified the court's position that MAPS and its founder Paul Vixie were enjoined from interfering with the delivery of Exactis' e-mail.
In a statement, 24/7 Media said: "The order was slightly modified to make clear that MAPS and Vixie cannot aid, abet, encourage, incite or induce any person from interfering with delivery of Exactis' email or Exactis' business operations. The restraining order will remain in effect until a five-day trial on Exactis' complaint."
The court also issued a gag order preventing both parties from speaking about the case.
However, Anne Mitchell, director of public and legal affairs at MAPS, said she was glad the judge finally set a trial date.
"This is something we wanted," she said. "We're willing to go this route because it expedites a trial. It could have taken a year to get to trial otherwise."
Thursday February 22, 2001
According to Mark Moran, general counsel for 24/7 Exactis, the postponement was the outcome of a mutual agreement between the two companies. The trial was originally scheduled for May 21.
"We all agreed we couldn't develop our cases in time," Moran said. "May is a very aggressive time schedule."
Anne Mitchell, MAPS' director of legal and public affairs, said she could not comment on the matter.
In late November, MAPS ,Redwood City, CA, was ordered to remove 24/7 Exactis from its Realtime Blackhole List and retract any comments it made to Internet service providers accusing the Denver firm of distributing spam.
The RBL is a list of more than 4,000 networks that MAPS considers to be friendly, or at least neutral, to spammers that use these networks either to originate or to relay spam. The service claims to block about 40 percent of all suspect e-mail.
24/7 Exactis is the e-mail marketing division of online ad network 24/7 Media Inc., New York.
MAPS originally listed 150 24/7 Exactis e-mail servers on its RBL in early November. In a statement at the time, MAPS said: "The decision to list Exactis' mail servers occurred after Exactis repudiated a previously negotiated agreement to imp lement measures which would have prevented unsolicited bulk and commercial e-mail from being sent through Exactis' mail servers, as well as ensuring that addresses on Exactis' own mailing lists were fully verified."
Shortly thereafter, the U.S. District Court in Denver ruled in favor of a temporary restraining order against MAPS and issued a gag order that prevented both parties from speaking about the case. Judge John Kane also ordered any other parties operatin g "in concert" with MAPS' RBL to remove 24/7 Exactis from any similar blacklists.
In December, Kane extended and modified the temporary restraining order to clarify the court's position that MAPS and its founder, Paul Vixie, were enjoined from interfering with the delivery of Exactis' e-mail.
MAPS and 24/7 Exactis have been at each other's throats for more than a year over 24/7 Exactis' e-mail policies. MAPS wants 24/7 Exactis to adopt verified opt-in list management practices for its e-mail lists, as well as for those of its clien ts. Verified opt-in refers to the practice of first asking consumers for permission to send commercial e-mail and then requiring the consumers to respond to a verification of that permission.
24/7 Exactis said it is working toward that goal but noted that its single opt-in policy is the industry norm. The company also said it does not deliver spam and that MAPS was making an issue out of fewer than a dozen complaints it received out of the 4 billion e-mails that 24/7 Exactis sent last year.
May 21, 2001
"We've been seeing a growing demand from our client base for permission-based e-mail marketing services," said Deb Zuccarini, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at Experian Marketing Solutions, Orange, CA.
Experian previously had a relationship with FloNetwork but wanted an inhouse turnkey e-mail solution to offer its clients, Zuccarini said.
Although the deal is not yet finalized, it is expected to be complete by the end of this month.
Apparently, a pending lawsuit brought against Exactis by Mail Abuse Prevention System LLC did not affect Experian's decision to buy the firm.
The MAPS lawsuit, which is scheduled to go to trial in late July, alleges that Exactis failed to take measures to prevent spam from getting through its servers.
"We believe very strongly that Exactis is going to prevail in that lawsuit," Zuccarini said. "We believe they really consistently employ best practices about privacy and consumer information."
The sale of Exactis comes at a time when 24/7 Media is in desperate need of cash, having burned through more than $15 million in 2000. The company ended the year with $28.9 million in cash but reduced that to just $13.7 million in the first quarter of this year.
The sale is 24/7 Media's third transaction this month. On May 3 it sold the intellectual property of Sabela Media Inc., its Australian ad tracking, serving and research subsidiary, to cross-town rival DoubleClick Inc. 24/7 Media acquired Sabela Media in January 2000.
One week after the transaction with DoubleClick, 24/7 Media announced the sale of its AwardTrack loyalty software division to Pass Privilege Inc. It acquired AwardTrack in February for about $75 million in stock.
While New York-based 24/7 Media did not disclose the financial terms of the Sabela Media and AwardTrack deals, it said in a conference call with analysts that these deals, along with the sale of securities, netted it $6.3 million in the second quarter.
Once Experian's acquisition of Exactis is complete, it will begin offering its clients e-mail services such as subscription management, personalized content, click-through tracking, open mail tracking, client format sensing, Web-based reporting and verified opt-in addresses.
Experian will continue the permission-based e-mail delivery policies of Exactis, Zuccarini said.
Exactis will continue to operate out of its Denver office, with Tom Detmer heading the unit as senior vice president and general manager.
Wednesday October 3, 2001
DENVER, Oct. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Experian eMarketing, Inc. (formerly Exactis.com), the e-mail delivery division of Experian, today announced that the Mail Abuse Prevention System (MAPS) has settled the lawsuit brought against it by Experian.
In November 2000, MAPS listed Experian eMarketing on its Realtime Blackhole List. Experian sued MAPS and obtained a Temporary Restraining Order against this listing from the U.S. District Court in Colorado. Under the settlement agreement, MAPS is prohibited from listing Experian eMarketing again without first obtaining a court order. In addition, neither Experian eMarketing nor its clients will be required to employ the practice of double opt-in (process by which a consumer must reaffirm their permission before they are added to an e-mail list) demanded by MAPS in November 2000. Should MAPS breach the settlement agreement, there are substantial remedies in place and exposure to damages.
``We are very pleased with the settlement agreement and believe it reflects the validation of Experian's e-mail marketing standards and that we remain at the forefront of consumer privacy and protection,'' said Tom Detmer president and general manager of Experian eMarketing Services. ``This settlement confirms that the privacy practices we have in place are responsible, accountable and in the best interests of the public and the marketplace. We will continue to offer the double opt-in solution for those clients who determine it is the right permissioning practice for their business.''
Experian enables organizations to find the best prospects and make fast, informed decisions to improve and personalize relationships with their customers. It does this by combining sophisticated and intelligent decision-making software and systems with some of the world's most comprehensive databases of information on consumers, businesses, motor vehicles and property. Through multi-channel delivery of its Web-based products and services, Experian enables its clients to conduct secure and profitable e-business and develop state-of-the-art Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems for communicating and building one-to- one relationships with customers. Experian is a subsidiary of GUS plc and has headquarters in Nottingham, UK, and Orange, Calif. Its 12,000 people support clients in more than 50 countries. Annual sales are approximately $1.5 billion.
SOURCE: Experian eMarketing, Inc.
MAIL ABUSE PREVENTION SYSTEM (MAPSSM)
950 Charter St.
Redwood City, CA 94063
EXACTIS SUIT AGAINST MAPS DISMISSED
October 3, 2001 - REDWOOD CITY, CA - Mail Abuse Prevention System, LLC (MAPSSM) announced today that Experian Emarketing, Inc. (formerly Exactis.com) has dismissed all of the claims which it had previously filed against MAPSSM.
"A settlement has been reached in which Experian has committed to requiring their clients to provide them with lists which contain only those email addresses for which they have obtained the addressee's permission to send them email", explained Anne P. Mitchell, Esq., MAPS'SM Director of Legal and Public Affairs. "They have further committed to address and resolve any complaints and concerns which may arise as a result of any mailings they do for either themselves or their clients."
Exactis.com sued MAPSSM in Federal court in November, 2000, following a listing of Exactis' IP addresses in the MAPS RBLSM database. The Court granted a Temporary Restraining Order ordering MAPSSM to remove the Exactis listings from the RBLSM. The RBLSM is a database, which is updated in real time, containing the Internet Protocol addresses of Internet sites which have been proven to either allow their users to send unsolicited email directly, or to otherwise use their resources to profit from the sending of such email. Subscriber sites may, at their discretion, choose to reject traffic from these sites in order to reduce the burden that such unwanted email places on their networks.
"The settlement is the result of months of intense negotiations", said Mitchell. "Both sides had to compromise quite a bit to reach this settlement. Even though they haven't gone as far as insisting that their clients use fully-verified opt-in, which they admit we advocate as the best means for avoiding unsolicited email, they have made several changes to ensure that only those who want to receive their email receive it, and to respond to concerns from those who don't."
Mitchell continued "By reaching this settlement both sides avoid the very real risks associated with going to trial. Furthermore, neither side can take any action against the other without the permission of the Court, and there are substantial penalties provided for a breach of the agreement. And, of course, we are still free to choose to accept or reject email from them on our own personal networks."
MAPSSM http://www.mail-abuse.org is based in Redwood City, California and provides spam prevention resources to Internet-connected organizations, as well as services to end users. For more information, please contact 650-779-7021 or email@example.com
October 4, 2001
An anti-spam group has settled a lawsuit with direct marketing support company Experian, one in a series of companies it has pulled from its database in the past year.
The Mail Abuse Prevention System (MAPS) said Experian, formerly known as Exactis.com, will require clients to provide the marketing company with the e-mail addresses of people who agree to receive their messages. Meanwhile, MAPS is prohibited from listing Experian on its Realtime Blackhole List (RBL) without first obtaining a court order, the marketing company said.
Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Experian sued MAPS in federal court in November after it was added to the anti-spam group's database, which is used by some Internet service providers to block unwanted e-mail known as spam. Experian then obtained a temporary restraining order in which the anti-spam group was ordered to remove Experian listings from the RBL.
The RBL database is a subscription system that provides companies several ways of controlling spam. For example, companies can compare an incoming message with a list of ISP addresses in the database to determine which have not been approved by the receiver. Companies can also use the database to block both incoming and outgoing e-mail at the network's borders.
The announcement marks the latest settlement for MAPS, which has been attempting to reconcile with some former foes. In August, MAPS removed Web hosting company Media3 Technologies and Harris Interactive from its list of suspected junk e-mailers. Harris agreed to change its opt-in system to confirm that the people on its mailing list want to receive its e-mail polls.
"By reaching this settlement (with Experian), both sides avoid the very real risks associated with going to trial," Anne Mitchell, MAPS director of legal and public affairs, said in a statement. "Even though they haven't gone as far as insisting that their clients use fully verified opt-in, which they admit we advocate as the best means for avoiding unsolicited e-mail, they have made several changes to ensure that only those who want to receive their e-mail receive it, and to respond to concerns from those who don't."
Redwood City, Calif.-based MAPS said that under the settlement, neither MAPS nor Experian can take any action against the other without obtaining permission from the court.
Esperian, which has headquarters in Orange, Calif., and Nottingham, England, provides clients with a database of information on consumers and businesses. The company gives customers the ability to opt-out or unsubscribe to any e-mail.
"The settlement allows for us to continue with our business practices as we have been before the temporary restraining order," said Tom Detmer, president and general manager of Experian eMarketing Services. "Our practice of giving consumers notice and choice and the ability to unsubscribe is the practice that we will continue."
October 4, 2001
Under terms of the Oct. 3 settlement, MAPS is prohibited from listing Experian eMarketing on its Realtime Blackhole List of suspected spammers -- a service to which many Internet service providers subscribe to filter unwanted e-mail -- without first obtaining a court order.
Also under the settlement, neither Experian eMarketing nor its clients have to implement so-called fully verified opt-in e-mail address collection, a controversial practice that MAPS normally demands of those on the RBL to get off the list. Fully verified opt-in is a process under which people who sign up for an e-mail list must respond to a verification e-mail to remain on the list.
Critics of fully verified opt-in say that e-mail permission can be obtained with less work and that fully verified opt-in is too cumbersome. Proponents contend that fully verified opt-in is the only way to truly avoid spamming because it prevents people from forge-subscribing one another to unwanted lists.
In previous disputes, MAPS has been unwavering in its demand that companies on the RBL implement fully verified opt-in. For example, online polling firm Harris Interactive settled a dispute with MAPS by agreeing to the practice in August.
The Experian settlement is thought to be the first case in which MAPS relented. However, Anne Mitchell, director of legal and public affairs at MAPS, said that MAPS is pleased with the outcome.
"By reaching this settlement, both sides avoid the very real risks associated with going to trial," she said. "A settlement has been reached in which Experian has committed to requiring their clients to provide them with lists which contain only those e-mail addresses for which they have obtained the addressee's permission to send them mail. Both sides had to settle quite a bit to reach this settlement."
Tom Detmer, president and general manager at Experian eMarketing, said the settlement validates his company's business practices.
"This settlement confirms that the privacy practices we have in place are responsible, accountable and in the best interests of the public and the marketplace," he said. "A small percentage of our clients use double opt-in. In some cases, some marketers feel it is the way to go."
Detmer said that Experian eMarketing will offer double opt-in to clients who want to take advantage of it, but will not offer it across the board.
"We're a service company," he said. "We're not in the business of making marketing decisions for [clients]. It's a marketer's choice."
In November 2000, MAPS listed Experian eMarketing, then known as the Exactis division of 24/7 Media Inc., on its RBL. Experian obtained a temporary restraining order against that listing.
Experian eMarketing said its clients determine who receives the e-mail, not Experian eMarketing.
MAPS originally listed 150 Experian eMarketing servers in its RBL because the Denver-based e-mail marketer "repudiated a previously negotiated agreement" to implement anti-spam measures, according to MAPS. The company said it reached an agreement with Experian eMarketing in spring 2000 in which the e-mail marketer would implement fully verified opt-in -- also known as double opt-in -- list management practices for all of its e-mail lists and those of its clients.
MAPS founder Paul Vixie has been a staunch advocate of fully verified opt-in. In an editorial in iMarketing News in August 2000, he said, "It is not up to the direct e-mail marketing industry to attempt to define its own rules, but rather, to recognize and follow the rules of the Internet industry it is joining."
Mitchell said the company's position hasn't changed.
"Experian freely admits that remains our position," she said. "They also freely admit that they don't use fully verified opt-in. They have now publicly stated their position, been willing to sue over it, and are willing to admit to it [even boast about it] in public statements."
In a popular chat room frequented by employees of Internet service providers (ISPs), and other Web denizens, many expressed concern that MAPS, an anti-spam group based in Redwood City, CA, had "sold out" the anti-spam community in agreeing to the terms of the settlement. MAPS defended its position.
Two points came under particular scrutiny.
The first is that Experian eMarketing, formerly Exactis.com, will not be forced to employ MAPS' double opt-in standard in its e-mail marketing.
The second point is that both companies are prohibited from taking action against one another without the court's permission. That means that MAPS is restricted from listing Experian again on the RBL without a court order—an apparent win for Experian.
A flurry of exchanges in a frequently visited chat room began yesterday as word of the settlement spread.
"No matter how this is spun, I just don't see the bright spot for MAPS," one writer said. "I wonder if this will embolden other mainsleaze companies to insist that MAPS abandon its stand on confirmed opt-in."
Another wrote: "Settling after months of intense negotiations doesn't sound to me like the outcome of a lawsuit you wanted to win. Indeed, it doesn't even sound like you made an effort to take it to trial."
Others called for watching Experian closely.
"Everybody here is intensely focused on [Experian eMarketing] and what they do," a writer said. "If you catch them violating the order it would seem productive to send full evidence to MAPSÖIn addition to being ammunition for MAPS in seeking an order allowing them to relist [Experian] is also powerful evidence for those who argue that an effective anti-spam law must require confirmed opt in."
Some writers indicated that MAPS was losing subscribers to the RBL and predicted its demise.
"Well we can finally finish filling out that death certificate for MAPS: Date of death: 10-03-01," it read.
In reaction to the Web communications, Margie Arbon, an employee of MAPS, joined in the discussion to defend MAPS' position on double opt-in even though Experian eMarketing does not employ that standard. Detmer said that Experian eMarketing is a permission-based company that employs single or verified opt-in methods depending on client preference and offers an opt-out mechanism on all e-mails.
"We did not, and will not, abandon our stand," she wrote. " Our position remains that the only way to avoid sending unwanted, unsolicited e-mail is to use fully verified opt-in, and anything less isn't going to cut it. Experian freely admits that remains our position. They also freely admit that they won't use fully verified opt-in."
She added: "Sometimes the best we can do in some arenas isn't as much as we'd hoped, but it doesn't mean that there was a sell-outÖWe never said that we could change 100% of minds, and we certainly could never guarantee the outcome of every lawsuit.
MAPS' Mitchell also fortified MAPS' position in a statement.
"It's easy to play armchair quarterback," she said. "Until they take on the same level of legal and financial involvement that we have taken on, they are just guessing from the sidelines. And for any "failure" they claim, all but the most disingenuous would have to admit to our many successes. Unless they have achieved the same level of success, and been involved to the same degree legally, they really aren't speaking from a place of knowledge.
MAPS has long maintained that double opt in, also referred to as verified opt in, is the only acceptable method of preventing unwanted e-mail. Those that do not adhere to MAPS' policies can be listed on its RBL of alleged spammers. The list of Internet protocol addresses is monitored by numerous ISPs that block mail to those identified. A listing can cripple a company's e-mail marketing efforts.
While some e-mail marketing companies and other direct marketers do use a double opt-in model, the accepted practice across the industry is a single opt in.
In November 2000, MAPS listed 150 of Experian eMarketing's (then Exactis.com) outgoing mail servers on the RBL. And while Exactis quickly obtained a temporary restraining order and was removed from the RBL, the company's mail was blocked for three days and several clients defected, CEO Tom Detmer said earlier this week. Exactis filed a lawsuit against MAPS in December 2000.
MAPS also came under fire from the anti-spam community last month following its settlement with Media3 Technologies, a Web hosting company based in Pembroke, MA. While terms of that agreement were confidential, Media3 was removed from the RBL.
By: Ken Magill
iMarketing News Editor
While Mail Abuse Prevention System LLC's recent settlement with Experian eMarketing seems to be a seismic shift in the infamous anti-spam group's position on acceptable e-mail marketing list building practices, e-mail marketers still fear MAPS.
"They're thinking, 'OK, this is great for Experian, but it doesn't necessarily mean great things for us,' " said Reggie Brady, a Stamford, CT-based interactive marketing consultant who was called as an expert witness in the lawsuit. "They do think, though, that if MAPS is going to nominate another company [for the Realtime Blackhole List of suspected spammers], they're going to lay the groundwork very carefully."
And as usual when MAPS is the subject of an article, several e-mail vendors contacted for comment declined to go on the record for fear of reprisal.
"I'm not going near this one," said one. "Even though they're not as powerful as they once were, they can still cause you giant headaches in your e-mail marketing efforts."
Under the Oct. 3 settlement, MAPS is prohibited from listing Experian eMarketing on its RBL, a service to which many Internet service providers subscribe to filter unwanted e-mail, without getting a court order.
Perhaps most significantly, neither Experian eMarketing, Denver, nor its clients has to implement so-called fully verified opt-in e-mail address collection, a process under which people who sign up for an e-mail list must respond to a verification e-mail to remain on the list.
This is thought to be the first time MAPS has backed down in its demand that companies on the RBL implement fully verified opt in.
Indeed, MAPS' dispute with Experian began when it listed 150 Experian eMarketing servers in its RBL, claiming that the e-mail marketer "repudiated a previously negotiated agreement" to implement fully verified opt-in, also known as double opt-in, list management practices for all of its e-mail lists and those of its clients.
Critics of fully verified opt in say it is too cumbersome. MAPS contends that fully verified opt in is the only way to truly avoid spamming because it prevents people from forge subscribing one another to unwanted lists.
Clearly, something caused MAPS executives to rethink their position, at least in the case of Experian.
An e-mail sent yesterday to Anne Mitchell, director of legal and public affairs at MAPS, was not answered by day's end.
Meanwhile, some marketers speculate that MAPS has determined its unwavering double opt-in demands were unrealistic.
"When [Experian] told me they had reached a settlement, I told them, "I hope you didn't sell out like every other company has,' " Brady said. "Clearly, they didn't.
"My personal assessment is that the rules of the road have changed. I would argue that you don't have to go double opt in. You still have to worry about permission, but if you give people clear and conspicuous notice and choice, you'll be fine."
However, this isn't a death knell for double opt-in e-mail lists, said Rosalind Resnick, co-founder/CEO of New York e-mail list management firm NetCreations and one of the original and most vocal proponents of double opt-in marketing lists.
"I still believe double opt in is the gold standard," she said. "We have a database of close to 40 million double opt-in [addresses], and these lists still rank at the very top of every broker's recommendations."
Oct. 22, 2001
In the wake of the recent settlement between Experian eMarketing and MAPS, some Internet service providers have begun subscribing to other so-called block lists, or lists of suspected spammers that ISPs use to filter unwanted e-mail. And these other lists' maintainers are not nearly as friendly as the folks at MAPS, sources say.
However, there are questions over how effective these lists can be since their subscribers are generally small to medium-size ISPs.
"If they could get enough ISPs to subscribe to these other lists to make a difference, it would be quite a feat," said one e-mail marketer who nonetheless wished to remain anonymous.
Several e-mails to iMarketing News claiming to point out the downside of the Experian/MAPS settlement for Experian named two maintainers of block lists: The Spamhaus Block List and the Spam Prevention Early Warning System. Sources say these services are quicker on the listing trigger and make it tougher to get removed from their lists. Also, these two organizations are reportedly located outside the United States, making legal action against them difficult.
Copy on the SPEWS.org home page supports the contention that SPEWS is stricter than other similar services:
"Most spam advisory and blocking systems work after the fact," SPEWS home page copy reads. "There is a time lag between the spammer setting up shop, spamming millions, and getting netblocks listed by these systems. SPEWS identifies known spammers and spam operations, listing them as soon as they start, sometimes even before they start spamming."
One reason for the other lists is that some consider MAPS to be too slow, another contention referenced on the site.
What's more, some anti-spammers contend that MAPS goes too easy on marketers.
"Many accuse us of being far too conservative in our listing criteria, and far too forgiving when it comes to being removed from our lists," said Anne Mitchell, director of legal and public affairs at MAPS.
And MAPS' Oct. 3 settlement with Experian eMarketing, one that direct marketers generally applauded, has reportedly resulted in some ISPs taking even more Draconian measures.
Under the settlement, MAPS is prohibited from listing Experian eMarketing on its Realtime Blackhole List without getting a court order.
More importantly, neither Experian eMarketing, Denver, nor its clients have to implement so-called fully verified opt-in e-mail address collection, a process under which people who sign up for an e-mail list must respond to a verification e-mail to remain on the list.
As a result, system administrators in the Usenet newsgroup, news:news.admin.net-abuse.email, reportedly are creating a list of every block of IP addresses assigned to Experian, aiming to permanently block each one. However, what effect this effort may have is unknown.
When asked how many spam filtering lists exist, MAPS' Mitchell said, "I really don't know how many there are out there ... dozens, and if you consider local block lists [including at major ISPs], hundreds, even thousands.
"Personally, were it me, I'd rather be listed with MAPS with no fanfare than to not be listed with MAPS and publicly declare that you intend to keep sending your unwanted mail," she said, referring to the Experian settlement. "There is no 'beating' the admins [system administrators] who don't want to receive your unwanted mail - they will refuse it one way or another - all they need to do is know about it. Or, put another way, can you say 'pyrrhic victory'?"
Under the settlement, neither Experian eMarketing, Denver, nor its clients have to implement so-called fully verified opt-in e-mail address collection, the process where people who sign up for an e-mail list must respond to a verification e-mail to remain on the list.
As a result, these anti-spam weenies are reportedly creating a list of IP addresses assigned to Experian, aiming to permanently block each one. Sources tell me the effect will be negligible at best. Good.
Meanwhile, however, the direct marketing industry is under siege. Anthrax fears have many people afraid to open their mail. The industry's biggest conference -- the Direct Marketing Association's fall annual in Chicago at the end of this month -- may be a giant ghost town because so many folks are afraid to fly.
According to the DMA, direct mail generated $326 billion in consumer sales and $201.9 billion in business-to-business sales last year.
Call it junk mail. Call it whatever you want. But make no mistake, the direct marketing industry in trouble means the nation in trouble.
And under current conditions, even a remote possibility that direct marketers may be distracted in the slightest by system administrators who fret over whether a box asking for permission to send e-mail offers in the future is pre-checked "yes" is insulting beyond words.
Though the DMA never officially denounced opt-out e-mail marketing, its members embraced opt in as the only acceptable e-mail marketing practice long ago.
As a result, the debate between mainstream direct marketers and anti-spam zealots is not about whether it's OK to send unsolicited commercial e-mail. It's about how many permission safeguards are enough.
The issues are picayune.
"Do they have to respond to the verification e-mail to stay on the list? Or do they stay on the list unless they respond to the verification e-mail?"
My god, who cares?
The hardcore anti-spam camp sounds more obscene by the day.
And as direct marketers look to e-mail to solve at least some of their problems, they are reportedly approaching the situation in a fairly typical analytical and plodding fashion.
No, they haven't stopped mailing, but they're a realistic bunch.
Once news of the anthrax attacks hit, "everyone said, 'Whoa, people won't be opening mail,' " said Jay Schwedelson, corporate vice president of Worldata/WebConnect, Boca Raton, FL.
Naturally, they began exploring alternatives. More aggressive e-mail certainly looks like one of them, but exact strategies aren't immediately apparent.
"Marketers are asking, 'Should I be appending? Should I be renting lists? Should I be doing more e-mail retention marketing?' " Schwedelson said.
They're also worried about what increased volume might do to the medium, according to Jeanniey Mullen, general manager, Grey eMMetrics, a division of New York ad agency Grey Direct.
"There's some definite concern that as everybody turns to this, it's going to negatively impact response rates," she said, adding that clients are heavily focused on targeting strategies as a result. "They're envisioning everybody running to e-mail and it becoming a non-responsive medium if everybody just starts sending non-strategic blast e-mails."
Doesn't sound like the talk of a bunch of spam-happy marketers to me.
As a result, I have a personal message to every system administrator who is blocking Experian's IP addresses.
Excuse me ... dumb ass? You're policing the wrong neighborhood.
E-mail marketer Experian and the antispam group Mail Abuse Prevention System have settled a lawsuit filed by Experian after it was listed on MAPS' spam blacklist and effectively shut down for two days in November 2000.
Under the settlement terms, MAPS won't directly or indirectly, interfere with, block or impede the delivery of Experian's e-mail, nor publish information listing Experian as a spammer on its Realtime Blackhole List, except as allowed by the agreement.
Tom Detmer, president and general manager of emarketing services at Experian (formerly Exactis), says the settlement validates what Experian has been doing all along in terms of allowing email recipients to unsubscribe from a mailing list, or the opt-out method.
"What we were doing before is OK, and MAPS is not going to block us if we do that," he says.
Anne Mitchell, director of legal and public affairs for MAPS, says, "In the settlement, they (Experian) fully acknowledge that the standard which we advocate, they don't adhere to. That's why to us it's not a big concession. I understand that the emarketing industry wants to make it a big, huge concession. It's not going to have any effect on any other emarketing organizations out there that are not doing fully verified opt-in. They're still either listed or will be listed. A listing means that we're just letting the people who care know that in our opinion, they don't adhere to our standard."
Mitchell is referring to the higher standard that MAPS and some other ISPs adhere to, known by it's critics as double-opt in, requiring the recipient to re-affirm their decision to sign up for email.
"In terms of the list of compromises, that's one of the concessions we made," Detmer says. "Experian's acknowledging that MAPS advocates a higher standard. That's all it says."
Detmer says Experian doesn't take sides on the issue, and that 10% to 15% of their existing clients - businesses who wish to communicate with their customers via email - use the double opt-in practice. "I haven't seen this (percentage) increase or decrease. If you have given legitimate notice and choice to a customer, and have an ability to opt out and get off every mailing, then we're fine with that," he says.
Both sides agree the settlement doesn't set a legal precedent, since the case was settled without the courts issuing a ruling. And the settlement terms apply only to Experian, not to other email marketers doing the same thing.
Detmer says, "There's not necessarily a law or point of law that's been brought to and through the court system, so companies are still under the same sort of pressures with MAPS...with the exception of our company."
The net effect of the Oct. 1 settlement for Experian is that there hasn't been any recent blocking of its e-mail, according to Paul Schwartz, an attorney with Cooley Godward, LLP, who handed the case for Experian.