---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, 28 Aug 2000 14:42:56 +0900
From: Glenn Barry <gbarry(a)SYDNEY.NET>
Subject: MEDIA: Sydney Morning Herald - Telstra Blacklist Story.
Posted just for the record and future reference:
Telstra on black list because of spamming
Junk mail over the Net arouses strong passions. Kevin Morrison explores
Telstra has long boasted that it wants to become a major player in the
Internet world butmany in cyberspace accuse Telstra of harbouring the
Internet community's number one enemy, spammers.
"Spam" unsolicited emails have become the vehicle of 21st century
snake-oil salesmen, offering various schemes and services, to millions
Spam clogs up email in-boxes, slows down Internet traffic and overloads
the systems of Internet service providers, hence the unpopularity of
"They can really cause havoc because systems get overloaded and it is
impossible to get off a spam list, so people get annoyed as the junk
can take hours to clear," said one Internet user, who did not want to be
named because of concerns that he would be targeted by spammers.
Being the telecommunications carrier that transports the spam, Telstra
has landed in hot water among the Internet community.
Over the past three months Telstra has been among the most unpopular
Internet organisations on "anti-spam" information Web site Spamcop (web
"Telstra serves a country of 20 million people and yet it has been the
most complained about network for several months. So Telstra has not
got a good reputation in the Internet world," the Internet user said.
Anti-spam groups such as ORBS and MAPS have formed to fight these
rogues of the Net, with a mission to drive them off the Internet. The
most effective way to do that is to cut off links to the
telecommunications operator that allows spammers to connect to their
The anti-spam groups have achieved some measure of success. In March US
Internet backbone carrier AGIS (Apex Global Internet Services) was
forced into bankruptcy after it became an outcast in the Internet
community over its refusal to rid its network of spammers.
"The anti-spam organisations should not be underestimated," the
Internet user said.
Last week ORBS temporarily put a black ban on Telstra, which meant that
the 200 plus Internet service providers that subscribe to ORBS from
around the world would not receive email coming from the Telstra
network. Given that Telstra is the largest carrier of Internet traffic
in Australia that means a lot of emails sent last week were bounced back
to their senders, including messages sent from The Sydney Morning Herald
email system to New Zealand-based ORBS administrator Mr Alan Brown.
Mr Brown said Telstra had been put on the ORBS black list because of its
slowness to disconnect notorious spammers.
Mr Brown said Telstra's treatment of two alleged spammers, Mr Phil
Basten and Mr Dean Westbury, who are directors of company named Global
Web Solutions, had triggered the ORBS action.
Telstra spokesman Mr Stuart Gray acknowledged the two men were spammers
and that Telstra had cut their connection to its Big Pond service.
Despite Telstra claims that the pair were disconnected, Messrs Basten
and Westbury were still operating late last week.
"They are playing the game of multiple names, multiple identities, and
they keep on popping up. But it is hard to know that they are going to
be spammers when they first set up," Mr Gray said.
The two men are also being watched by the Australian Securities and
Investment Commission. "We are monitoring some of the activities of
these gentlemen," an ASIC spokeswoman said.
However, Mr Basten told the Herald that he was not a spammer and that
he and Mr Westbury provided Web-hosting services and programs that
allowed customers to bulk mail. He said that some of his customers
appeared to be spammers.
"We didn't know anything about it. It looks like there are four out of
about 100 customers that have been spamming and we had no way of
"The first thing I knew about it was when Telstra closed down our
service and that has cost us a lot of money. So I am going to get our
lawyers and try and get that money back from Telstra," Mr Basten said.
A Telstra spokesman said that they had enough evidence to prove that Mr
Basten and Mr Westbury were spammers.
Australia's Internet carriers have not been as active as their US
counterparts in stamping out spamming.
In the US, where spamming activities first started, ISPs have become
more active in cutting spammers from their network, issuing heavy fines
and strict conditions that customers must adhere to.
Both Telstra and Optus claim to have stringent anti-spam policies on
their networks, prohibiting users from carrying out "unacceptable
Internet behaviour such as spamming."
However, Mr Brown said both carriers had been very slow to react to
"Optus have not responded to any complaints that I have made to them.
The Cable & Wireless group worldwide has a bad reputation in the
Internet community where they are known as Clueless and Witless," Mr
With the Internet increasingly moving to wireless platforms, such as WAP
on mobile phones, spamming is expected to spread even further unless
carriers jump on it.
With several carriers expected to participate in the mobile Internet
space, the choices will increase for spammers.
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