MCI denies harbouring spammers

MCI says it doesn't 'give refuge to spammers', but a leading anti-spam campaigner thinks otherwise
Written by Dan Ilett, Contributor

US Internet service provider MCI has denied having any involvement with spammers, following the removal of Send-Safe.com -- which offers spamming services -- from its network.

MCI originally claimed that the Send-Safe Web site was hosted on the network of a subsidiary company, meaning it could not take action against it. On Tuesday, MCI would not comment on why the site had left its customer's network, but in an emailed statement said it had a "zero-tolerance" policy on spam.

"We take all allegations of illegal or abusive conduct on our network seriously and do not comment on specific enforcement actions. MCI vigorously enforces our Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) and violators are subject to corrective action up to and including termination of MCI services. MCI also works with the appropriate law enforcement agencies to enforce anti-spamming laws," said MCI.

Send-Safe forces armies of infected computers to send spam via their ISP's mail servers. This means the spam avoids being blocked by blacklists of domain names used by spammers.

Spamhaus, a non-profit organisation that is working to end spam, claimed MCI is still hosting the Web sites of a number of spam gangs and had only removed the Send-Safe Web site to counter the sudden pressure it had come under. Spamhaus has pushed MCI over recent months to remove the site and even engaged in talks with EU ministers and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development over the issue.

"I don’t know what they [MCI] did with their AUP [Acceptable Use Policy]," said Steve Linford, director of Spamhaus, on Monday. "The heat got too much. But the rest of the spam gangs are still there. They might do something about getting rid of the rest. It would have been much better news if MCI had changed their AUP."

Send-Safe was hosted by one of MCI's subsidiary companies for around 18 months. Before that Spamhaus persuaded four Chinese ISPs to expel the Send-Safe Web site.

On Monday, ISP Lycos evicted the Send-Safe Web site shortly after owners tried to take refuge on its servers. A message from the Send-Safe administrators said: "Due to antis pressure our site is down. We are going to make Send-Safe for free, you will be able download free unlimited Send-Safe Standalone version here at March 7 2005 [sic]."

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