***MAPS Puts 24/7 Exactis Servers on RBL

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Anti-spam group Mail Abuse Prevention System LLC yesterday listed about 150 mail servers belonging to 24/7 Exactis, a subsidiary of 24/7 Media, on its Realtime Blackhole List, its controversial compilation of alleged spammers. In an immediate response, Exactis filed a request in U.S. District Court in Denver for a temporary restraining order.

The actions resume a MAPS/Exactis battle that began earlier this year. It was thought to have been settled in May when, according to MAPS, 24/7 Exactis assured the group that it would implement fully verified opt-in list management practices for all of 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, then requiring the consumers to respond to a verification of the permission.

MAPS, Redwood City, CA, said it decided to place 24/7 Exactis on the RBL after 24/7 Exactis repudiated a previously negotiated agreement. Exactis' argument, then and now, is that the company's e-mail clients -- not Exactis -- are responsible for establishing permission with the e-mail recipients. Therein lies the sticking point.

"We have been working with Exactis since April and yet we continue to receive credible and actionable reports of unsolicited bulk e-mail from Exactis' mail servers," said Peter Popovich, director of online operations at MAPS.

Referring to the initial agreement reached last spring, Popovich said Exactis warned that some agreed-upon items might be completed later than MAPS had expected, but the company assured MAPS that the delay would be limited to a few clients and would be reasonably brief.

"However, Exactis has repudiated the agreement," Popovich said. "Exactis is not following through on their commitment, and as a result, we feel that we have no other option in stemming the steady stream of unsolicited e-mail flowing from their mail servers but to list them in our RBL database."

Representatives of 24/7 Exactis and its parent company, 24/7 Media, did not comment.

According to MAPS, Exactis is arguing that it is operating under the e-mail marketing guidelines suggested by the recently formed Responsible Electronic Communication Alliance. RECA, which counts as members 24/7 Media, DoubleClick, yesmail.com and others, has established single opt-in as its minimum level of permission.

The two parties were scheduled to present their cases on Thursday. A court battle appears to be the only way these groups will be able to solve their long-simmering dispute.

Previous attempts at a resolution -- including a meeting in May involving MAPS, Exactis, and representatives of the Association for Interactive Media, direct marketing firm Roska Direct and MessageMedia -- have produced only temporary solutions.
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