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Spam clogs Netcom lines

A mass emailing slowed down Netcom's Internet service yesterday, affecting about 5,000 customers.

A mass emailing slowed down Netcom's Internet service yesterday, affecting about 5,000 customers, the company confirmed today.

The incident underscores the growing clout of spammers in controlling online communication--or blocking it--and their ability to infuriate thousands of users almost instantaneously.

"Netcom got a very large spam yesterday," a spokeswoman said. "It was a temporary slowdown that affected a very minor portion of the subscriber base."

But some users, including those who informed CNET NEWS.COM to the problem, were frustrated. "My company's incoming and outgoing email has been jammed for the past 24 hours or so due to a delay at Netcom," one wrote. He said the company's information service department attributed the delay to "a deluge of spam from one particular site."

In a report released last week, World Research said almost half of the more than 1,000 respondents in a voluntary survey said they "hated" junk email. One quarter found it "bothersome."

Spam periodically has shut down some ISPs when mass mailers use the services as a return path for their junk email. ISPs have turned to the courts and legislation to help stop the practice.

Reporter Stephanie Miles contributed to this report.