MCI-Verizon deal sparks spam fears

Will Verizon's proposed multi-billion dollar take-over of MCI send spam levels rocketing or help bring the problem under control?

Campaigners are divided over the impact that Verizon's proposed $6.75bn buyout of MCI could have on spam levels.

Anti-spam campaign group Spamhaus is concerned that the deal, announced on Monday, will create more safe havens for spammers to operate in.

"If [Verizon] combines with MCI, that makes it safer for hosting spam," said Steve Linford, director of Spamhaus. "This merger is likely to cause a lot of problems for the Internet. This is bad news."

Verizon is currently listed as number eight in Spamhaus' list of the "Worst Spam Service ISPs", while MCI is at number one.

Last week MCI came under fire from Spamhaus for failing to terminate connectivity to a Web site that sells and distributes a bulk-mailing program called Send-Safe. The program is said to be behind a sudden rise in spam on the Internet as it allows junk mail to avoid spam blacklists.

The London Internet Exchange has promised to snub the ISP responsible for hosting Send-Safe.

Spamhaus, a non-profit organisation, currently advises several international governments on how to break the problem of spam. Next week, Linford has been invited to speak at an international policing conference held in the UK.

Vint Cerf, who is senior vice-president of technology strategy for MCI and regarded as the father of the Internet due to his work on TCP/IP, was unable to comment in time for the publication of this article.

But Derek Wyatt MP, chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Internet Group, believes that any spamming activity will soon dry up after Verizon fully acquires MCI. Wyatt and other representatives of APIG were in the US last week discussing spam with officials from the FBI, the FTC, Microsoft and Verizon.

"That [spam] will go under Verizon," said Wyatt. "Although there has been an increase in spam attacks, there's been a huge increase in bullet proofing. It's just a rush now to be the largest [telco]."

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