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Tonga domain to be spam-free

Tonic, the U.S.-based company that manages and sells top-level domain names for Tonga, is banishing spammers from the ".to" domain.

His Royal Highness Crown Prince Tupouto'a of Tonga does not like spam.

That's one of the reasons Tonic, the U.S.-based company that manages and sells top-level domain names for Tonga--those ending in ".to"--announced today that it will banish junk emailers from the virtual kingdom of Tonga.

"We've kicked off a couple of spammers already," said Eric Lyons, president of Tonic.

Lyons said the time was right for the company to create a spam-free domain name.

"In the last six months there's been a lot of shake-out about whether spam is really bad or something that's just annoying," he said. "We decided to follow the turning tide that says spam is a very bad thing. We realize as a top-level domain we can do things that no one else can: pull a name that's being used in spam."

Lyons is under no illusion that with only 5,000 registered domain names, the policy, in which spammers are kicked off after a warning, will have a direct impact on the amount of spam flooding into email boxes. But he is hoping to set an example and perhaps drum up a little business in the process by becoming known as a domain that won't tolerate spam.

"We thought it could be an awareness thing," he said. "If we could have a spam-free domain, people might actually care about that."

John Mozena, cofounder of the Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial Email, praised the idea.

"Anything that cuts down on the amount of spam people receive within the law is a good thing," he said. "Any number of companies have started using those antispam measures as selling points because it's very clear that users don't like getting spam and they are likely to go with an ISP or software that will, to some degree, protect them from spam.

"Anything that publicizes the degree to which spam is a problem and the degree to which it's universally accepted it's a bad thing--is good," he added.

Of course, Mozena has another suggestion.

"The best of all possible worlds would be if spammers were tossed in a Tonga jail," he said.

While the prince is against spam, Lyons said he is probably not likely to advocate jail terms.

"It's hard to extradite," he joked.