Although Sanford Wallace is hailing today's court ruling forcing AGIS to put his Cyber Promotions back online, he's also scrambling to remake his business so it can survive without AGIS.
Changes may be in the making for the most infamous junk emailer on the Internet. Just last weekend, Wallace sent out a fax to his 11,000 "customers," which advertised that his bulk email list was for sale.
Calling the judge's ruling to reinstate his Net service at least until October 16 a "Band-Aid" solution, Wallace added: "I would concede that as of this day there's a very good likelihood that you'll never see Cyber Promotions as you did before."
But, in his usual manner of taunting his enemies--and there are many--he vowed that he would be back online in one form or another. His next step? Selling software, the notorious email list, and consulting.
In addition, Wallace has even bigger plans: team up with other spammers to form their own backbone network. While he realized that he might have trouble doing that because it requires that other backbone providers agree to exchange information with him, Wallace said he was considering pooling spammers' resources and actually purchasing a backbone provider. As there are fewer than ten, by most counts, that might be difficult.
Meanwhile, Wallace's first priority is to continue to duke it out in court with AGIS and WorldCom, another backbone provider that Wallace is suing for denying Cyber Promotions access that had been promised.
AGIS only has to keep Wallace online until October 16 unless he can find a backbone network provider before then, which is unlikely. The ISP's CEO, Phil Lawlor, said he's not sure what will happen after that date but said that, "obviously, if I had my way we would find someone else to fill their portion of the network."
Lawlor later said he regretted ever having accepted Cyber Promotions as a client, accusing the company of unethical actions, such as not honoring a "remove" list that Lawlor and Wallace began with a splash of publicity several months ago and of hijacking the email systems of other providers.
There are sure to be plenty of "I told you so's" going around from the people who lurk in the "news.admin.net-abuse.email" newsgroup, where network administrators and others discuss email abuse.
Antispammers have been watching the court battle play out, wondering just when the appropriate time would be to pop that bubbly and celebrate the demise of the spammer everyone loves to hate.
Today, they reacted with cautious optimism about the news. Those who were asked vowed that should Wallace decide to seek other providers, they will hunt him down and "encourage" his provider to drop him.
"Everyone in the community knows that complaining to Cyber Promotions is futile, so they'll take it out on the provider, and no provider needs the annoyance of dealing with all those complaints," Gary Frazier, one individual who has taken to fighting spam, said in an email interview.
But Wallace said that if antispammers think they will be free of spam after October 16, they're wrong. He claimed that he was working with Lawlor at AGIS to develop a system where, theoretically, people who didn't want junk email could sign up on a master list and their names would be removed from any spam lists. Many people across the Net have reported that those lists weren't honored, a charge which Wallace denied.
In fact, Lawlor had originally said that he took on spammers as clients because he was hoping that through AGIS he could control spam. But in the end, he said that the junk emailers broke too many rules. It was the very thing that antispammers had been warning them about all along.
Now, Wallace added, there will be anarchy on the Net when it comes to spammers. No one will be there to manage a "remove" list. No one will be there to control spam. "There's no central place to filter it out anymore. You're going to hear more complaints."
That may be true, some antispammers agreed, many of whom do not like to be named. At the same time, Wallace was one of the biggest spammers. And they're happy to put a lid on his mass emailings on the Net.