*24/7 Exactis Wins One vs. MAPS

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Mail Abuse Prevention System LLC, Redwood City, CA, was ordered to remove the e-mail marketing division 24/7 Exactis, Denver, from its Realtime Blackhole List and retract any comments it made to Internet service providers accusing 24/7 Exactis of distributing spam.


The U.S. District Court in Denver ruled in favor of a temporary restraining order against MAPS and issued a gag order that prevents both parties from speaking about the case. District Court Judge John Kane also ordered any other parties operating "in concert" with MAPS' RBL listing to remove 24/7 Exactis from any similar blacklists, although such an order is nearly impossible to enforce.


MAPS and 24/7 Exactis, a division of online ad firm 24/7 Media, New York, have been in disagreement for more than a year over 24/7 Exactis' e-mail policies. MAPS wants 24/7 Exactis to adopt verified opt-in list management practices for its e-mail lists as well as for those of its clients. Verified opt in refers to the practice of first asking consumers for permission to send commercial e-mail and then requiring the consumers to respond to a verification of that permission.


24/7 Exactis said it is working toward that goal, but that in the meantime, its single opt-in policy is the industry norm. Furthermore, the company said it does not deliver spam and that MAPS was making an issue about less than a dozen complaints out of the 4 billion e-mails that 24/7 Exactis has sent during the year.


"We don't believe that any reasonable observer could contend that we are spammers," Cindy Brown, senior vice president and general manager at 24/7 Exactis, said in a prepared statement. Parent company 24/7 Media also claims to deliver more outbound e-mail than any other industry firm.


This is the fourth time that an attempt by MAPS to blacklist an e-mail firm has landed the anti-spam group in court -- and none so far have lasted through a final court decision. The first case, which is still ongoing, involves a small New Hampshire software firm called Black Ice. The second and third cases, involving yesmail.com and Harris Interactive, respectively, ended with out-of-court settlements.


While the 24/7 Exactis battle is shaping up to be a long one, MAPS' clash with MSN, the Microsoft-owned consumer Web portal, appears to be over. In early- to mid-November, MAPS placed six MSN mail servers on its Relay Spam Stopper list. The RSS is a lesser-known list of companies who are accused of running unsecure servers that, in effect, permit unauthorized users to distribute spam.


Last week, however, both MAPS and MSN said that they have worked out their differences and that all of the MSN servers were removed from the RSS.


"MSN implemented new restrictions for these servers that will prevent these abuses from happening and MAPS removed MSN from it's blocked domain list," stated Microsoft Corp. in a prepared statement. "MSN worked quickly with MAPS to resolve this issue and the servers in question are no longer on this list."


A MAPS spokeswoman confirmed that the companies are no longer at odds.


"We are very pleased that once notified of the problem, MSN worked with MAPS to prevent the continued, unauthorized use of their equipment," said Margie Arbon, a MAPS staffer. "[MSN] became aware of the problem, the problem was fixed and the MAPS listing was no longer necessary to protect individual networks."
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