MAPS settles with marketing specialist

The anti-spam group settles a lawsuit with Experian, one in a series of companies it has pulled from its database in the past year.

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An anti-spam group has settled a lawsuit with direct marketing support company Experian, one in a series of companies it has pulled from its database in the past year.

The Mail Abuse Prevention System (MAPS) said Experian, formerly known as Exactis.com, will require clients to provide the marketing company with the e-mail addresses of people who agree to receive their messages. Meanwhile, MAPS is prohibited from listing Experian on its Realtime Blackhole List (RBL) without first obtaining a court order, the marketing company said.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Experian sued MAPS in federal court in November after it was added to the anti-spam group's database, which is used by some Internet service providers to block unwanted e-mail known as spam. Experian then obtained a temporary restraining order in which the anti-spam group was ordered to remove Experian listings from the RBL.

The RBL database is a subscription system that provides companies several ways of controlling spam. For example, companies can compare an incoming message with a list of ISP addresses in the database to determine which have not been approved by the receiver. Companies can also use the database to block both incoming and outgoing e-mail at the network's borders.

The announcement marks the latest settlement for MAPS, which has been attempting to reconcile with some former foes. In August, MAPS removed Web hosting company Media3 Technologies and Harris Interactive from its list of suspected junk e-mailers. Harris agreed to change its opt-in system to confirm that the people on its mailing list want to receive its e-mail polls.

"By reaching this settlement (with Experian), both sides avoid the very real risks associated with going to trial," Anne Mitchell, MAPS director of legal and public affairs, said in a statement. "Even though they haven't gone as far as insisting that their clients use fully verified opt-in, which they admit we advocate as the best means for avoiding unsolicited e-mail, they have made several changes to ensure that only those who want to receive their e-mail receive it, and to respond to concerns from those who don't."

Redwood City, Calif.-based MAPS said that under the settlement, neither MAPS nor Experian can take any action against the other without obtaining permission from the court.

Esperian, which has headquarters in Orange, Calif., and Nottingham, England, provides clients with a database of information on consumers and businesses. The company gives customers the ability to opt-out or unsubscribe to any e-mail.

"The settlement allows for us to continue with our business practices as we have been before the temporary restraining order," said Tom Detmer, president and general manager of Experian eMarketing Services. "Our practice of giving consumers notice and choice and the ability to unsubscribe is the practice that we will continue."