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Spammers don't hold their fire

At least two of the five spammers that had agreed to stop sending junk email have continued.

At least two of the five spammers that had agreed to stop sending out junk email from their backbone provider, AGIS, have continued to spam the Net.

In one case, Integrated Media Promotion Corporation made an innocent mistake, said Phil Lawlor, the chief executive of AGIS. They couldn't reach the engineer who controls the junk mail spigot so AGIS's engineers helped them turn it off.

But in the second case, the infamous Cyber Promotions, headed by Sanford Wallace has apparently circumvented the cease-fire by using other networks to shoot off junk email, according to Lawlor. And Lawlor is not happy.

But he wasn't the only one unhappy today with spammers. In a completely separate case, EarthLink announced today it issued "cease-and-desist" letters to eight companies that violated EarthLink's policies banning spam.

In the letter, EarthLink states that if the offenders do not comply with its written request to stop the illegal activities, EarthLink will pursue other "remedies" available under state and federal law.

AGIS, a backbone provider hosting several of the largest spammers, has made threats of a different kind: It wants to kick off spammers who don't agree to follow its rules.

AGIS set up an association of junk emailers, the Internet E-Mail Marketing Council (IEMMC), which called for a temporary ban on junk email sent through AGIS's servers until it can set up a spam filtering system.

But as soon as word hit the Net about the cease-fire, antispammers started sending messages to AGIS and to this reporter, showing that Cyber Promotions was still sending spam.

Technically, Cyber Promotions honored the cease-fire. True to Wallace's style, it appears that he followed the letter of the law, but not the intent. Wallace has said many times that no publicity is bad publicity.

Wallace could not be reached for comment.

Lawlor said that people from the coalition will be meeting with Cyber Promotions to discuss the issue, but the move concerned him. "By sending out email, they're discrediting their own situation. The antispam community said these guys aren't credible."

He added that he is aware that people in the emotionally charged antispam community have repeated in colorful terms that spammers cannot be trusted. In fact, when AGIS released plans for the association, they derided it, saying it would never work.

But Lawlor said his goal is to use his service to put some controls on spam. If he can hold their access hostage, he reasons, perhaps junk emailers will abide by the terms of the organization.

He's hoping to be able to work the situation out, calling the situation "start-up problems."

"We are investigating it. We know they're not sending bulk email through our network," Lawlor said.

But, Lawlor noted, "It was our understanding they weren't going to send any bulk email through any network."