RealTime IT News

Activists Pressure Netcom to Stop Spam

A group of anti-spam activists backed down from a threat to disrupt business at Netcom On-Line Communication Services Inc., after the company took steps to cut the number of marketing messages being posted through its system.

The group had threatened to delete or cancel all messages originating from Netcom bound for Usenet, starting today, according to Reuters.

Netcom, a unit of telephone service provider ICG Communications Inc., is one of the largest Internet service providers.

"We have 500,000 customers out there and a good portion of them use Usenet facilities, so we treated this threat very seriously," Gene Shimshock, Netcom vice president for marketing, was quoted as saying.

Shimshock said Netcom complied with the activists' demand and installed software that would prevent direct marketers from flooding the global computer network with unwanted advertisements.

In the past year, Internet activists have taken matters into their own hands and threatened to disrupt Internet providers' service if they do not take steps to curb the activities of flagrant spammers.

"Netcom was allowing less than half a dozen customers to pump out 20,000, 30,000, 40,000 copies of spam a day," said Doug Mackall, the activist who posted a warning to Netcom on Feb. 13.

Mackall told Reuters he was satisfied with the steps that Netcom took to control spam. Netcom went from being one of the top-three sources of spam a week ago to being "not even in the top 20," he said.