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July 20, 1998

SUITS, SOFTWARE TO COUNTER SPAM

By CBR Staff Writer

The future looks bleak for spammers. A group headed by a newsletter publisher in Washington state has put new anti-spam legislation to the test, seeking $66,500 in damages from WorldTouch Network for having to put up with nearly one hundred unsolicited commercial emails from the company. But the plaintiffs say they’ll waive the money if WorldTouch will just be quiet. The goal really is in specific to shut this guy down, Tidbits publisher Adam Engst told the Seattle Weekly. Ironically, WorldTouch uses spam to promote spam software. The messages advertise the virtues of WorldTouch’s Bull’s Eye Gold email address collection tool. The courts aren’t the only ones on spammers’ backs, either. A software startup called Bright Lights Technologies has launched a beta test version of Bright Mail, a kind of honey trap for spammers. Once installed by an internet access provider, Bright Mail lures unsuspecting direct marketers by seeding Usenet and other net spaces with dummy email addresses. Applications like Bull’s Eye Gold scoop hundreds of thousands of email addresses from resources like these to be used in spam campaigns. But the Bright Mail dummies act like indelible dye. If bulk email arrives with one of these addresses in its header, the software can identify the message as spam and filter out on behalf of the IAP’s genuine users. Customers can opt to receive their mail unfiltered if they want. Whether anyone will is another question.

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