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Anti-spam group makes up with pollster

A controversial anti-spam group agrees to remove a polling and market research firm from its database of suspected junk e-mailers.

A controversial anti-spam group said Wednesday that it has agreed to remove a polling and market research firm from its database of suspected junk e-mailers.

The Mail Abuse Prevention System (MAPS) said it has removed Harris Interactive from its database, known as the Realtime Blackhole List. Some Internet service providers use the list of IP addresses, linked to alleged spammers, to block unwanted e-mail.

MAPS said that under the deal, Harris Interactive has agreed to change its opt-in system to confirm that the people on its mailing list want to receive its e-mail polls.

The agreement comes after a lengthy dispute that brought MAPS and Harris Interactive into the center of the debate over spam control. Last year, Harris Interactive sued MAPS because it had listed the market research firm in its database. The lawsuit was later dismissed.

Since then, MAPS said the pair had been working to reach an agreement that would remove the addresses from its database.

The agreement "means we've done good," said Anne Mitchell, MAPS' director of legal and public affairs. "We advocated a more responsible mailing-list practice where you make sure that everyone who signs up really wants your e-mail."

Mitchell called the agreement a "win-win-win situation:" Consumers get only e-mail they want, the business doesn't spend money sending e-mail to uninterested people; and the ISPs don't pay to deal with millions of pieces of unwanted e-mail.

"We're pleased now that all of our mail is going to get through to our panel members who have asked us to send it to them," said Dan Hucko, vice president and director of marketing communications at Harris Interactive. "For a long time, there has been a small portion of our panel we weren't able to communicate with because we had been blocked."

Rochester, N.Y.-based Harris Interactive has a poll, dubbed "The Harris Poll," which conducts scientific market research. The company said it maintains a database of more than 7 million online panelists.