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mPowernet -- caught in the spam-wars crossfire

The proprietors of an apparently reputable small Ohio ISP, Marketing Power Network (mPowernet), have gotten caught in the proliferation of unverified lists of spammers. TBTF is among the guilty in this affair; while I don't run an ongoing service that purports to list known spammers, I have posted stories on the subject. One such list persists on the TBTF site and is accessed, on average, roughly a dozen times per week.

The mPowernet owners sent mail explaining this situation to the Postmaster address at a large number of sites, of which TBTF was one. They had to go to some lengths to get the mail through as a number of systems have been configured to refuse all mail from mPowernet.com (it's on the list of known spammers, remember).

I have removed mPowernet.com from the list hosted here and have posted their letter in full below. My apologies and best wishes to Marketing Power Network.

Date:  Wed, 24 Sep 1997 15:29:07 -0400
From:  Eric Ridgway 
Newsgroups:    news.admin.net-abuse.email
Subject:       A Plea to ISPs

A Plea to all Internet Service Providers


       I work for a small, but growing, ISP located in Cincinnati, OH called
Marketing Power Network (or Mpowernet, for short). We have been in
business for a little over a year now. Back in April we had a couple of
users whom decided to do the unthinkable, they spammed. We received a
fair number of complaints about these two users (around 30 or so, mostly
from people using AOL) and the accounts were quickly terminated. While
we thought that this was the end of the problem, we were greatly

       Apparently, one of the complaints we received from AOL users was a
letter from David O'Donnell (PMDAtropos@aol.com) who is in the Internet
Development Outreach & Technology department. He stated that if he
wasn't informed of the actions taken against this user, we would be
placed on AOL's Preferred Mail List of domains to be blocked.
Unfortunately, this letter went unnoticed, and we were placed onto this.
While I could try and make excuses about why this message was not
replied to, that is not the point of this letter, so let us chalk it up
to inexperience as being an Internet service provider. 

       While we were placed on this list sometime in April of this year, it
was not noticed until the beginning of July while doing a search on our
domain name. By that point in time, our name had also begun to appear on
other companies various e-mail blocking service's lists and has
continued to do so. We never received any notification or complaints
from the postmasters of these other companies. A list of various ISPs
known to be blocking our domain is given at the bottom of this document,
but it is unknown as to how many other companies might be blocking us as
well that we are unaware of.

       As of this point in time, we are working with AOL to get our name
removed from their list. We have spoken with Mr. O'Donnell as well as
people in their legal department and followed their requests to the
letter (disabling relaying on our mail server, signing into a contract,
etc.). Hopefully we will have our name removed from the list on their
web site soon. We have attempted to contact the other companies that are
blocking our domain. But without being able to send them e-mail (due to
the blocks) this has been, to say the least, difficult. For the most
part, our phone calls to them have not been returned.

       The main reason I am posting this message is that I would like to have
the blocks on our company's domain name removed, and I am lost as to how
else to achieve this goal. Our company has always had a zero-tolerance
policy towards any sort of system, e-mail, or newsgroup abuses. Feel
free to check our "Terms and Conditions of Use" document located at
http://www.mpowernet.com/terms.htm. If someone could forward or notify
the providers listed below about this newsgroup posting, I would be most
appreciative. This issue has been incredibly frustrating both to
ourselves as well as the users of our system. Any other suggestions on
how else to resolve this matter would also be appreciated.

       The second reason behind this letter is to start a healthy discussion
about the practices that some ISP's are using in determining which
domains should be blocked from their e-mail services. I have no problem
with domain-based blocks, nor with the procedures by which AOL followed
in determining that our domain should be blocked. The problem I have is
that I believe that most of the other companies that are using
domain-based e-mail blocks are simply using the list posted on the AOL
site and initiating the block. Doing so without ever receiving a
complaint or an illegal e-mail message from a domain, or sending a
warning letter to ISP about the forthcoming block, does not seem

       I understand that many companies are under a lot of pressure from users
to help limit the amount of junk mail they receive, and that using a
list that someone else has generated is certainly the easiest way to go.
But I think it would be a good idea for companies that are going to be
using this kind of service to send an e-mail message to the Internet
service providers in question before initiating a block on their domain
name, such as AOL is doing. All ISP are required to have a
postmaster@domain.com account activated. It would not take long for a
company to send a brief message to this account for each domain, and
then begin the block if no response was received.

Thank you for your time

Eric S. Ridgway                                        Phone: (513)381-SURF
Webspinner(among other things)                 Fax: (513)784-1819
Marketing Power Network (Mpowernet)            http://www.mpowernet.com/

Sites (with location of list) that are currently blocking e-mail from
our domain:

Along with AOL.


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