Judge Blocks Yesmail.com Blacklisting

BOSTON (07/18/2000) - A Federal Court judge in Chicago Tuesday issued a temporary restraining order against a nonprofit anti-spam group, prohibiting it from blacklisting an e-mail marketing company with a 12 million e-mail account database.

The Mail Abuse Prevention System LLC (MAPS) had threatened to place commercial e-mail marketer Yesmail.com on its Realtime Blackhole List, an anti-spam alert system read by thousands of ISPs (Internet Service Providers), according to Yesmail.com.

MAPS would like to see Yesmail.com go with a double opt-in standard in order for a user to receive e-mail. The double opt-in standard requires the users to request the e-mail at a Web site and then confirm again that it is desired by replying to a confirmation e-mail.

Chicago-based Yesmail.com, owned by Internet holding company CMGI Inc. says it supports protective measures for users, but says MAPS is trying to strong-arm it into the standard.

"They are very zealous that we turn our whole business model around," said Tony Priore, Yesmail's senior vice president of marketing. "To totally change your business model overnight, just to satisfy these guys, is ludicrous. We finally had to say enough is enough."

Redwood City, California-based MAPS is a nonprofit that seeks to "defend the Internet's e-mail system from abuse." MAPS officials could not be reached for comment, but a message was posted Tuesday on the group's Web site.

"At this time, we can only confirm that Yesmail.com has filed a lawsuit against MAPS and a temporary restraining order has been issued," the statement reads.

"MAPS will comment in more detail at a later time."

Yesmail.com officials sued MAPS late last week to keep itself off the blacklist that can potentially cause as many as 20,000 ISPs to block its mail.

"Those are real consequences," Priore said "The whole thing seems so out of proportion and ludicrous."

Within its suit filed in a federal court in Illinois, Yesmail denies that it is a spammer. Priore said the company has gone to "great pains" to guard and protect users' privacy.

Yesmail.com markets itself as a opt-in mail provider. Users must ask for e-mail to be sent to them before it lands in their inbox. And Yesmail.com allows a user to remove his or her name from its mailing list at any time.

Priore also said Yesmail utilizes the double opt-in standard for some of its direct marketing clients. Yesmail.com officials had discussions with MAPS for several months before it decided to file suit late last week, he said.

Yesmail, in Chicago, can be reached at +1-312-423-5000 or at http://www.yesmail.com/. MAPS, in Redwood City, California, can be reached at http://www.mail-abuse.org/.

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