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Usenet demands ‘death penalty’ sentence for AOL

Online service doesn't do enough to hinder spam, claim German Usenet administrators

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A group of German Usenet administrators are threatening to boycott AOL -- the so-called Usenet Death Penalty -- because of the online service's poor record on spam prevention. Their argument is that AOL's offer of up to 650 free hours of Internet access gives spammers the opportunity they need to get online, mail all and sundry with some highly dubious offers, and not have to worry about whether they ultimately get booted off the system. They also bemoan AOL executives' apparent unwillingness to do anything about the issue, or about proven spammers. Indeed, the ISPs allege, AOL's complaints system is automated and "despite the repeated complaints of many group users and set periods, the spam continues... AOL shows no visible attempt to terminate this network abuse". At the same time, AOL's use of 'screen names' rather than real email addresses makes it easy for spammers to post their unwanted adverts on Usenet and hide their real identity while they're at it, say the ISPs. And, indeed, in our own experience, the vast majority of spam received by Register staffers comes with the '@aol.com' suffix. The German admins are therefore proposing to nuke any attempt to post articles on Usenet from AOL accounts, and presumably -- our knowledge of German broke down at this point -- are asking other Usenet administrators and email server managers to do the same. ®

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