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  1. #1
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Junk e-mail foes target spam king
    W. Bloomfield man, a major sender of bulk messages, lands in center of free-speech battle

    By Joel Kurth / The Detroit News



    Fighting e-intrusions
    Here are ways to curtail unsolicited commercial e-mail:
    Delete messages promptly.
    Ignore offers to be removed from mailing lists. Doing so verifies the address, making it more valuable for resale to other solicitors.
    Establish e-mail accounts with Internet service providers that have specific anti-spam policies. Take advantage of options that let users block certain types of messages.
    Use e-mail filters to block specific senders.
    Remove yourself from unprotected member directories where you've posted messages.
    Business users should close open or backup ports that allow spammers access into your system.
    Install anti-spam software designed to block messages containing words such as "free," "sweepstakes" or "mortgage." Take advantage of options that let users filter out adult-content e-mail.
    Source: Computer Mail Services Inc., Detroit News research

    Spam laws at a glance
    Laws limiting spam have done little to slow the flow of junk e-mail. Examples show how laws vary by state:
    Neither Michigan nor the federal government has passed laws to crack down on spam.
    Virginia has the toughest law, letting Internet service providers ask courts for $10 for every piece of unsolicited e-mail passing through their networks.
    California, Idaho, Missouri, Nevada and Tennessee require spammers to include instructions on how to opt out of future mailings and require them to honor the requests.
    Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Iowa, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Virginia prohibit bulk e-mailers from using false routing information to send spam.
    Pennsylvania and Kansas require spam with adult material to be labeled that way.
    Source: The Internet Law Group (www.spamlaws.com)
    Free-speech or free ride?

    West Bloomfield Township businessman Alan M. Ralsky has become one of the world's largest providers of Internet spam. Are his e-mail messages free-speech or a free ride on the backs of Internet service providers and users?
    They're free speech. Leave him alone.
    Spammers are parasites. Stop him.






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    WEST BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP -- The e-mails flow by the millions -- offers for cut-rate insurance, prescription drugs, vacation giveaways and more -- en route to unsuspecting computers from Detroit to Djakarta.
    Known as spam or unsolicited commercial e-mail, many these days originate from a well-kept colonial in a West Bloomfield Township subdivision. Inside, owner Alan M. Ralsky has become one of the world's largest providers of the much-hated solicitations.
    Ralsky claims he is trying to make an honest living in an industry riddled with cons, but he is one of the most despised men in some corners of the Internet. On Web chat rooms, the 57-year-old is described as "scum," "sleaze," "vermin" and an "Internet criminal." Death threats aren't uncommon. Many Internet providers won't allow Ralsky to send e-mail on their systems.
    "I'm not trying to become the poster boy (of spam). But, honest to God, some people think I'm the only one making money off this," he said.
    Ralsky is a central figure in the international battle over spam, one that pits cleaning up cyberspace of unwanted e-mail against arguments that doing so trods on free-speech rights. A multimillion dollar lawsuit against him is closely watched by the industry because it highlights the legal and practical difficulties of curbing the messages that promise everything from porn to discount software, as well as provide an inexpensive forum for companies to sell their wares.
    Not only a top frustration among users, spam is gobbling up precious space on the Internet and costing businesses and consumers worldwide $9.6 billion a year in lost productivity and upgrades to fight it, according to a 2001 European Union study.
    The European Union recently passed laws banning unsolicited junk e-mail, but the United States has yet to follow suit. Instead, Internet providers such as Verizon and Comcast are suing to shut down spammers, filing at least 25 cases in the last five years, said Jon Praed, a lawyer with the Arlington, Va.-based Internet Law Group.
    Verizon Internet Services has targeted Ralsky, who has fought his way back from bankruptcy, a felony conviction involving fraud and the loss of his insurance licenses in Michigan and Illinois. The company has sued Ralsky and associates at his business, Additional Benefits LCC, claiming they sent enough spam in one day in 2000 to fill all the memory of about 20 personal computers. The suit does not specify total damages, but they could eclipse $37 million based on the amount of e-mail the company claims Ralsky sent.
    "This was the largest e-mail attack in our history," said Thomas M. Dailey, general counsel of the Reston, Va.-based provider. "It's clear Mr. Ralsky is a major player in this area. What he did to us was tantamount to an attack."
    Ralsky denies the accusation. The case goes to trial Sept. 23 in the U.S. District Court's eastern Virginia district.
    "They make me out to be the biggest villain there is, but I want to take this to trial," said Ralsky, who wouldn't divulge his annual earnings. "I don't do porn. I don't camouflage my e-mails. If you don't want to receive them, I won't send any more."
    Despite efforts in the courts to fight spam, bulk e-mailers are often one step ahead of Internet providers and can cover their tracks faster than corporations can catch them.
    The National Spam Mail Abuse Association has spent more than a year trying to get to the bottom of Ralsky's organization, which he said consists of about nine subcontractors.
    "The deeper we get, the more confused we are," said Greg Blackwell, an Omaha, Neb.-based computer network manager who founded the anti-spam group. "He's like a cactus. Once he takes root, you can never stop him from growing."

    Battle over Internet
    Ralsky's lawyer, Robert S. Harrison of Bloomfield Hills, said the Verizon suit -- and actions by the anti-spam "Gestapo" -- are the first volleys in a fight that ultimately could decide who controls the Internet.
    Harrison claims Ralsky is taking advantage of the same freedoms the Internet provides all users and counters that Verizon is trying to restrict his free-speech rights. Verizon sued in Virginia because the state has one of the toughest laws against bulk e-mail in the nation.
    Michigan has no law against spam.
    "How is sending commercial e-mail any worse than the annoying phone calls you get during dinner or letters from Publishers Clearing House saying you've won millions of dollars from Ed McMahon?" Harrison said.
    Even spam critics such as Grosse Pointe Farms attorney Matthew R. Halpin acknowledge the case poses a tough question for a medium built on free exchange: Why is it OK for users to e-mail vacation photos to 100 friends, but illegal for spammers to send thousands of pitches?
    "I hate spam. It's horrible, but what's the remedy?" asked Halpin, who specializes in Internet issues and operates the Web sites CyberLaw USA and Michigan Cyber Court. "Do we say you can't make someone an offer for services? You're treading on thin ice with the First Amendment."
    Praed and Internet service providers call such arguments ridiculous, saying that sending spam is tantamount to stealing by using others' property for personal gain.
    "No one has the right to free speech by using a megaphone that's owned by someone else," said Praed, who is working on the Ralsky case and has become one of the top anti-spam attorneys in the nation.

    Lawsuit ramifications
    Spam is tough to stop. Twenty-nine states have passed or considered laws to limit bulk e-mails, which account for 20 percent to 50 percent of all Internet traffic. Attacks -- single launches of thousands of solicitations -- jumped to 4.8 million in June from 675,000 in January 2001, according to Brightmail, a San Francisco company that fights spam.
    "This type of pernicious activity is only getting worse," said Lih-Tah Wong, president of Computer Mail Strategies, a Southfield company that sells anti-spam software.
    "It's popular because it's so cheap," Wong said. "There's no postage to lick. There's no ads to print and they get the message across. So 99.9 percent of recipients delete it, but there's that 0.01 percent that look at it and do something with it. That one hit more than pays for itself."
    Ralsky agreed.
    "I put people on the same playing field as Fortune 500 companies for a fraction of the cost," he said. "This is all about who can make money. These (anti-spammers) feel we've infringed on their personal space. They want to own the Internet."

    Links to full article: Spammer in lawsuit with Verizon

  2. #2
    ABW Ambassador buy_online's Avatar
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    Thanks for the story. I wonder if a separate forum should/could be created for SPAM? I know it really doesn't fit, but for me it's a hot button.

    Fred

    PS: He is from Bloomfiled, that figures.

  3. #3
    ABW Ambassador buy_online's Avatar
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    After checking the Survey Results at The Detroit News, I found 96% against him, 3% favor free speech. If one picks apart the 3% number, I'll bet only about 2% of those think SPAM is okay.

    Interesting how it still boils down to metrics. That's probably an acceptable number for a Spammer.

    Also, I don't see it as free speech. It is a commercial enterprise he's running, and he's not making a comment about something - he is simply running a business.

    Fred

    [ 08-04-2002: Message edited by: buy_online ]

  4. #4
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Virginia has the toughest law, letting Internet service providers ask courts for $10 for every piece of unsolicited e-mail passing through their networks.
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>


    Yup [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]

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    "So 99.9 percent of recipients delete it, but there's that 0.01 percent that look at it and do something with it."

    Interesting, that means .01 percent of the population is certifiably stupid.

    There's two really big problems with most of the anti-spam laws (other than the notion if you never opted in, you can't semantically speaking opt-out):

    First, most of the laws (I believe Calif for example) require spam be sent from, and received in California to be against the rules. So a California spammer is okay as long as he send spam to the rest of the world. Sort of like the old west - if you lived in Arizona and crossed the border to rob banks in Nevada, nobody in Arizona cared.

    Second the whole opt-out concept is bogus. Anita's free porn site starts with say two million email addresses, spams everybody, gets a million opt-out requests, gets shut down by his ISP, gets a new ISP and starts all over again sending spam for Betty's free porn to the original two million user - hey, they opted out of Anita's list, not Betty's.

  6. #6
    ABW Ambassador buy_online's Avatar
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    Missed this one from late last week:Ohio Governor Signs Anti-SPAM Law

    Fred

    [ 08-05-2002: Message edited by: buy_online ]

  7. #7
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    What's all the fuss about?
    Why fuss over spam? Can't you just select all the junkmail at one go and delete it off?? U guys make so much noise over spam when most of you probably receive only 10-15 spam a day. I that considered a lot? Is that so bad? I receive about 30 a day at my [REMOVED], and I'm not making any noise... Chill dudes..
    Last edited by Greg Rice; May 4th, 2006 at 02:12 PM. Reason: Removed email address

  8. #8
    Web Ho - Design B!tch ~Michelle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by demonique
    Why fuss over spam? Can't you just select all the junkmail at one go and delete it off?? U guys make so much noise over spam when most of you probably receive only 10-15 spam a day. I that considered a lot? Is that so bad? I receive about 30 a day at my, and I'm not making any noise... Chill dudes..

    I manage at least 15 email accounts for clients, plus about a dozen of my own... so SPAM is a HUGE issue for me to deal with.

    Many of these accounts can't be set up to filter based on many keywords because the potential of deleting legit business mail would be high. Any SPAM traps used have to be set to the lowest settings.

    This leaves me to go through each subject line manually and delete out what I KNOW is SPAM, then check the rest.

    There are some of these accounts that are a couple years old that receive no less than 100 junk emails a day. Some get more, some get less. It has gotten so bad on some accounts that I have had to scrap the original email accounts and set up new ones just to avoid the SPAM.

    One of my clients was receiving so much SPAM this spring that my host had to suspend all email on the hosting package. Overnight, between the 6 email accounts set up for that account they started receiving hundreds of thousands SPAM emails per day WITH SPAM filters in place.

    I have much better things to do with my time than to sit around picking through junk that I never asked to receive.

    I think I have reason to fuss....
    Last edited by Greg Rice; May 4th, 2006 at 02:12 PM.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by demonique
    Why fuss over spam? Can't you just select all the junkmail at one go and delete it off?? U guys make so much noise over spam when most of you probably receive only 10-15 spam a day. I that considered a lot? Is that so bad? I receive about 30 a day at my probably fake, and I'm not making any noise... Chill dudes..

    Have you just been chilling for these past 4 years, waiting to respond?

  10. #10
    Full Member markschok's Avatar
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    Wink only 30
    Quote Originally Posted by demonique
    Why fuss over spam? Can't you just select all the junkmail at one go and delete it off?? U guys make so much noise over spam when most of you probably receive only 10-15 spam a day. I that considered a lot? Is that so bad? I receive about 30 a day at my , and I'm not making any noise... Chill dudes..

    Only 30 a day? And you post your email on forums? Well done.
    Last edited by Greg Rice; May 4th, 2006 at 02:13 PM.

  11. #11
    Influencer Marketing GravityFed's Avatar
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    I receive about 30 a day at my
    yeah.. that email is finished now...

  12. #12
    Pimp Duck popdawg's Avatar
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    "my email has been spammed very badly... what shud i do?"

    posted elsewhere
    Single drive by posts
    Usually no message, just the email address
    started or at least showing up as started around the 20th of feb
    too much cyberspace wasted on this already
    Last edited by Greg Rice; May 4th, 2006 at 02:13 PM.
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    Been away, now I'm back. Not as much, but I'm back & starting from scratch. Where I was, was fantastic. Where I am now, less so. Things have changed, become harder. So have I. Game ON!!!
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  13. #13
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    I'm so pleased that demonique was able to offer such educated comments in a thread started August 4th, 2002, 6:45 AM

  14. #14
    ABW Veteran Mr. Sal's Avatar
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    Single drive by posts
    Usually no message, just the email address
    And probably that's someone else email address.

    Out of all of the returned emails that we get daily from places that we don't even know existed, but have recived some with our domain name, I will not doubt it's because of (fill in the blank *****people) like the one that reopened this old thread.
    ...

  15. #15
    Web Ho - Design B!tch ~Michelle's Avatar
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    Holy crap, I never even notice the original posting date on Mikes post. *LOL*
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  16. #16
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    I agree with Mr Sal, that is someeone elses address and should be removed.

  17. #17
    ABW Ambassador Greg Rice's Avatar
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    That email address has been removed.
    Greg Rice Affiliate Program Management
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  18. #18
    CPA Network Rep Jon@Fluxads's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by demonique
    Why fuss over spam? Can't you just select all the junkmail at one go and delete it off?? U guys make so much noise over spam when most of you probably receive only 10-15 spam a day. I that considered a lot? Is that so bad? I receive about 30 a day at my [REMOVED], and I'm not making any noise... Chill dudes..
    dynamite drop-in buddy. i will check back in 4 years for your next reply.
    [B]Jon Lyons[/B]
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    [EMAIL="jon.lyons@fluxads.com"][SIZE=1]jon.lyons@fluxads.com[/SIZE][/EMAIL][SIZE=1] | 1-877-GO-2-FLUX | [URL="http://www.fluxads.com/"]FluxAds.com[/URL][/SIZE]

    [SIZE=1]LinkedIn: [URL]http://www.linkedin.com/in/jrlyons[/URL][/SIZE]

  19. #19
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    here's my take ...

    that person is a spammer (new, maybe), bothered by his/her conscience knowing very well that spamming is annoying at the least, and trying very hard to rationalize his/her actions so he/she can sleep well at night.

    you're like a dog digging up an old bone. LOL

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