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AOL is blocking sites advertised in spam messages.

The policy, which began earlier this year, is designed to remove the rationale for sending spam messages by making it impossible for AOL members to access spamvertised sites.

"Essentially, we have vastly improved AOL's ability to restrict identified spammers' sites from being accessed by our members online," company spokesman Nicholas J. Graham told The Washington Post.

Many in the anti-spam debate have advocated going after sites advertised by spam as well as the people who send it out, but the approach is not without its problems.

AOL says it chooses what sites to block based on complaints from its members. But what if spammers mentions sites in their email they don't like (e.g. Spamhaus), simply to get them blocked?

Some lawyers dislike AOL's paternalistic approach but Graham countered that the policy had helped reduce the amount of junk mail sent to AOL members.

On 20 February junk mailers attempted to send 2.6 billion spam messages to AOL members. That figure had dropped dramatically to 1.9 billion on 17 March even though overall spam levels have remained around the 60 per cent mark. ®

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