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AOL files suit against spammer

The online service files suit against a Nevada company, which the online service claims has repeatedly spammed AOL members despite repeated requests to stop doing so.

In an effort to send a message to mass emailers everywhere, America Online (AOL) has filed a suit in federal court against a Nevada company, which the online service claims has repeatedly spammed AOL members despite repeated requests to stop doing so.

According to the suit filed this week, Over the Air Equipment used deceptive practices, including falsifying email transmission data, to avoid AOL's mail controls and to repeatedly transmit unsolicited email to the online service's subscribers.

"In a broad sense, we want a decision in the court that says this behavior should not happen," said George Vradenburg, AOL senior vice president and general counsel.

The junk email included a link to adult entertainment Web sites featuring "cyber-stripper" offerings. To further confuse members, Over the Air Equipment allegedly copied an America Online trademark, fraudulently suggesting that their site had AOL approval, according to the suit.

A representative of Over the Air Equipment said the company had no knowledge of the suit. He offered no further comment.

The lawsuit is part of AOL's continuing strategy to fight spam both in the courts and with new technologies, noted Vradenburg. In February, a federal court ordered junk mailer Cyber Promotions to cease using unregistered domain addresses to send unwanted email to AOL members.

In an earlier statement regarding the Over the Air Equipment suit, Vradenburg said the company is telling junk emailers that they "will finally have to take responsibility for deceptions, trickery, and counterfeiting."

The most recent AOL litigation alleges that despite repeated demands over the past six months to Over the Air Equipment to cease and desist spamming, the company continued to use a variety of practices, including forging email headers and counterfeiting routing information, to avoid detection. The emailer is also said to have ignored AOL members' requests to be removed from spamming lists and to have continued transmitting unwanted email to frustrated subscribers.

Vradenburg added that AOL had warned Over the Air Equipment about possible legal action if the company didn't stop spamming its members. "They didn't, so we went forward with the suit."