Sunday, May 26, 2024

Spitzer Claims Victory in War on Spam

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New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer hailed a
decision by a Manhattan Supreme Court to enjoin
accused spammer MonsterHut from falsely representing
its e-mail marketing messages.

Justice Lottie Wilkins’ ruling forbids Niagara Falls,
N.Y.-based MonsterHut
and its two top executives from “further engaging in
any of the fraudulent,
deceptive and illegal acts and practices” relating to
the company’s claim
that its marketing service is opt-in or opt-out.

Last May, the attorney general’s office filed
a deceptive
business practices suit
against MonsterHut,
accusing it of fraudulently
claiming to offer opt-out and opt-in e-mail services,
when it was really
sending massive batches of unsolicited commercial
e-mails. MonsterHut’s
chief executive, Todd Pelow, and chief technology
officer, Gary Hartl, were
also named in the complaint.

According to the attorney general’s office, MonsterHut
had sent out over 500
million messages since January 2001, misrepresenting
its e-mails as opt-in
to both consumers in the e-mail and to potential
advertisers on its Web
site. The company also ignored requests from at least
750,000 consumers to
be taken off their lists, according to the attorney

“New Yorkers are being overwhelmed with unsolicited
commercial e-mail,”
Sptizer said. “This decision is another victory in our
continuing battle
against online fraud and will help consumers maintain
control of their
e-mail in-boxes.”

Attempts to reach MonsterHut officials for comment
were unsuccessful.

MonsterHut argued that its e-mail messages were
opt-in, since it believed
the third-party list providers it bought the addresses
from had gotten
consumers’ consent to receive marketing messages.

Shortly before Spitzer took action, MonsterHut’s
Internet service provider,
PaeTec, cut the company from its network, after it won
a legal skirmish and
a court found that MonsterHut had violated the
anti-spam provision in its
ISP agreement.

The court plans a hearing on Feb. 11 to consider
further issues, including
damage penalties against MonsterHut.

With polls increasingly showing the public
of legislative remedies
to combat spam, state
governments have been more assertive recently in
combating spam. Nearly two dozen have passed some form
of anti-spam legislation. In the fall, Missouri
considered extrapolating
“do not call” list
to cover e-mail marketing — a
move legitimate e-mail marketers oppose as unfair to
their industry.

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