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MAPS, Harris Interactive End Feud

The long-running fight between Mail Abuse Prevention System LLC and Internet pollster Harris Interactive has come to an end.

MAPS said this week that it finalized an agreement with Harris Interactive under which the company will move to a double-opt-in e-mail strategy and in return will have its e-mail servers removed from MAPS' Realtime Blackhole List. The RBL is MAPS' list of spammers' mail servers, which many Internet service providers subscribe to as a means of filtering out unwanted e-mail.

The agreement with MAPS means Harris Interactive's e-mail polls will no longer be blocked. The company has about 7 million panelists, who now have to confirm the decision to remain as a pollster for Harris Interactive.

Calling the agreement a “win-win situation,” Anne Mitchell, MAPS' director of legal and public affairs, said that Harris Interactive has been using confirmed opt-in e-mail for about a year.

“During the past year, Harris Interactive conducted many tests and found that confirmed opt-in panel members give far more thoughtful and comprehensive survey responses than nonconfirmed opt-in panelists,” Mitchell said. “They had determined that they get a better quality of response from their customers when they mail only to people who have confirmed that they want to receive the material, and they approached us for our assistance in implementing the process.”

Gordon Black, Harris Interactive's CEO, said the company's move to confirmed opt-in e-mail, coupled with shifting its focus to Europe and Japan, will help the company grow faster.

“Our move to a confirmed opt-in strategy will enhance the value of our panel,” Black said.

Harris Interactive in September plans to expand its panels in the United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, France, Canada and Italy. Brazil, Spain, Chile, Argentina, Mexico and China will follow, the company said.

In July 2000, Harris Interactive sued MAPS and about a dozen Internet service providers, including AOL Time Warner's America Online service, Hotmail and Juno Online Services. The lawsuit asked the court to prevent MAPS from placing Harris Interactive on the RBL. However, within a week of the filing, Harris Interactive dropped AOL from the suit, claiming it could suddenly reach AOL e-mail addresses.

MAPS charged that Harris Interactive took AOL out of the suit “almost immediately” because AOL does not use the RBL and any blocking of Harris Interactive's e-mail was done by AOL on its own. Harris Interactive initially said it reached an agreement with AOL but then backpedaled, issuing a second statement saying there was no settlement but that it thought AOL was accepting its e-mail.

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