Harris Interactive Drops AOL from Lawsuit

WASHINGTON (08/08/2000) - Harris Interactive Inc. on Tuesday dropped America Online Inc. from a lawsuit it filed last week after the market research company was blacklisted as a spammer.

Harris Interactive's lawsuit claims that its business is being adversely affected by the addition of its name to the Realtime Blackhole List (RBL), which is maintained by the nonprofit Mail Abuse Prevention System (MAPS), an antispam organization. The RBL contains the Internet addresses of organizations that do not follow MAPS' suggested e-mail abuse policies and is used by dozens of ISPs (Internet service providers) to protect their networks, according to MAPS.

The addition of Harris Interactive's name to the RBL prompted AOL and other ISPs to block Harris Interactive's e-mail communications with millions of people who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive market research.

[See "UPDATE2 - Harris Sues AOL, Microsoft Over Spam Accusation," August 1.] Harris Interactive's decision to drop the accusations against AOL came after AOL restored Harris Interactive's ability to send e-mails to people who participate in their market research who are also AOL subscribers, Harris Interactive said in a release. The change took place when AOL switched from an ISP affiliated with MAPS to one that is not.

Claims against the other defendants, including MAPS, Microsoft Corp., Qwest Communications International Inc. and other ISPs are unaffected by Harris Interactive's decision to drop the complaint against AOL.

A spokesman for MAPS said he could not discuss Harris Interactive's decision to drop the accusations against AOL. He added that MAPS planned to post a press release at its Web site later on Tuesday.

MAPS said in a press release last week that it would vigorously defend itself against the lawsuit, which spokeswoman Kelly Thompson called "insane." MAPS has every right to list whomever it wants in its databases, similar to the way Consumer Reports evaluates and lists companies and products, the release said.

Harris Interactive can be found on the Web at http://www.harrisinteractive.com/. MAPS, located in Redwood City, California, can be found on the Web at http://mail-abuse.org/. AOL, in Dulles, Virginia, can be reached at +1-703-448-8700 or at http://www.aol.com/.

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