Earthlink in the news

Wow, we made Slashdot twice yesterday. The stories:

EarthLink to Offer Anti-Spam E-Mail System

EarthLink wins ‘Buffalo Spammer’ case
(that’s buffalo as in Buffalo, NY, not the large herd animal; spammers are much further down the food chain than any mammal)

The first story is about a challenge-response type mail system creatively named “Spam Blocker” that we’re about to roll out. How it works: You send an e-mail to an Earthlink user using this service. The e-mail is sidelined and you get an e-mail back asking you to verify that the mail is legitimate by typing out a sequence of letters appearing in an image. Once you send this back, and the user accepts it, you can (at the user’s discretion) be added to a whitelist of people whose mail is always allowed through to that particular Earthlink address. Users can add to their whitelists whenever they want, so theoretically people they often e-mail would never be challenged. I’m interested in seeing how it does. I think it could go either way; a lot of people may like the whitelisting idea, but then again, a lot of people may think it’s too much trouble. Personally, I’m not a big fan of this idea, so I don’t plan to use it myself. I expect many people, after receiving the challenge, simply won’t bother sending the response back.

The second story is about Howard Carmack, a big spammer in the Buffalo, NY, area. The judgement is actually not quite as impressive as it sounds. Neither he nor an attorney representing him showed up in court, so the judge ruled in our favor, which is common in cases like this. The chance of collecting any of that $16.4M is pretty much nil, as are the chances of collecting any of the $25M from the Kahn C. Smith case last year. The money isn’t the important part though; the important part is the injunction that was granted. This means he is permanently banned from sending spam to anyone, over any network, not just ours. Contrast this to Verizon’s recent case against Alan Ralsky which just banned Ralsky from spamming Verizon’s users but left him free to continue spamming everyone else.

I think it’s funny how news stories are still bringing up the Spamford Wallace case from 1998. That’s ancient history in internet time.

We’re off to San Francisco in a few hours. I doubt I’ll be checking my e-mail more than once or twice at the most this weekend, but I’ll be reachable by cell phone as usual.