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Enemies of Junk E-mail Propose Abuse Contact

Enemies of junk e-mail have proposed a new tactic for stopping so-called spammers.

Owen DeLong and other members of the North American Network Operators' Group, a forum for Internet service providers, are trying to rally support for a plan, under which people who register Web sites would be required to provide contact information for handling e-mail abuse complaints.

The abuse contact information would be listed in the Internic whois database, along with the currently published email and phone numbers for the domain's administrative, technical, and billing contacts.

Network Solutions Inc. maintains the whois database and would be responsible for implementing the proposed plan. NSI officials were not available for comment, but on an Internet mailing list a senior NSI manager has suggested the addition of an abuse contact would be redundant.

But David O'Donnell, a member of the board of the Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial E-mail, said the currently available whois contact information is unreliable for tracking down spammers. And O'Donnell, a former principal postmaster for America Online, said he hopes NSI gets behind the DeLong's proposal.

"It's a small thing that could make a really big difference in the fight against junk email. Right now it's a turkey shoot. You don't know who to complain to, so the mail never gets acted on, and the spammers get to go on forever."

Separately, CAUCE is opposing newly introduced anti-spam legislation from US Senators Murkowski and Torricelli. CAUCE says that S759, also known as the Inbox Privacy Act, is better than previous anti-spam bills. For one thing, it would enable a domain owner to put his or her entire domain on an junk email opt-out list, to be maintained by the Federal Trade Commission. However, CAUCE the bill's current system for such a domain-wide opt-out system would be onerous to ISPs and Internet users.