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Junk emailer fights for access

Cyber Promotions is getting the boot from another ISP, but it isn't going without a fight.

Junk emailer Cyber Promotions is getting the boot from another Internet access provider, but it isn't going without a fight.

As reported yesterday by CNET's NEWS.COM, the online marketing company is to be kicked off ATX Telecommunications Services Saturday because it violated the rules of ATX's upstream provider, IDCI.

While Cyber Promotions made an agreement with ATX, the connection definitely affected IDCI, said Darol Lain, IDCI vice president of operations, and that's why he decided to ask ATX to cut off the emailer's access.

IDCI is far from the first Internet provider to cut off Cyber Promotions. In fact, the emailer, run by president Sanford Wallace, has been booted from some of the largest ISPs. Just last month, Cyber Promotions sued a WorldCom for allegedly backing out of a contract to give it Net access.

Wallace said that WorldCom signed a three-year contract with Cyber Promotions that specifically allowed the junk email firm to do what it does best--send out massive amounts of spam, or unsolicited email--but then backed out of the contract.

And today, Wallace said he'd fight IDCI's decision as well. "Please be advised that Cyber Promotions is prepared to take immediate legal action to seek monetary damages and injunctive relieve against ATX and IDCI if Internet service is terminated," the company wrote in a letter to ATX.

In this case, Lain said that Cyber Promotions had only signed up for corporate access, not to spam. Wallace countered that ATX signed an addendum to the contract, saying that his company could spam.

ATX had a clause that allowed it to get out of the contract for whatever reason it wanted, according to Lain, provided that it give Cyber Promotions 30 days of notice. In addition, Lain said IDCI's terms and conditions very clearly rule out spam.

Wallace countered that that deal was nullified when ATX agreed to the additional clause and he denied that IDCI has a clear policy against spam.

So on June 5, ATX, with IDCI's encouragement, gave Cyber Promotions notice. Executives at ATX could not be reached for comment.

Lain noted he didn't even realize Cyber Promotions was at ATX until a few months ago, when the antispam community came down on the ISP like a ton of bricks. Maybe angry wasps would be a more fitting description.

"We were a little bit blindsided and we didn't know [about Cyber Promotions] until after the fact," Lain said. Because ATX is such a small provider, all its IP numbers are assigned to IDCI, Lain added.

So when Cyber Promotions sent out spam and spam-haters traced it back, they came up with IDCI. Then they did what they often do: They waged a campaign against IDCI, letting the company know that they did not appreciate spam. Soon, other providers started blocking IDCI's IP addresses, and that did not make IDCI's customers--most of which are businesses--very happy.

"It has been a nightmare," Lane said. "We have not only received a lot of complaints but there are other ISPs that have done things like shut down routes, which affected multiple customers. They have done everything they can possibly do to make it difficult for Cyber Promotions to do successful mail bombings."

Lane said IDCI was concerned not only about its other customers but about its name on the Net. Being known as a spammer is a sure way to sully one's online reputation, unless one's business happens to be sending junk email.

"We're trying to build a business that is for the use of the greater community of end users," he said. "Almost all of our customers are commercial accounts. They tend to be very sensitive."