Web of Porn: AOL attacks porn spammers 'one at a time'

America Online is seeking federal legislation in an aggressive bid to put spammers out of business, the company announced this week.

Junk e-mail inviting users to porn sites is one of the most unwelcome additions to any mailbox and the family oriented AOL has decided enough is enough. Although the company claims to block 60 percent of the spam, it admits too much is getting through. A reporter at ZDNet received up to 25 unsolicited mails from porn sites every day despite setting up filters to deal with the problem. An AOL spokeswoman admitted the spammers appear "to be winning at the moment".

Speaking at the Jupiter Consumer Online Conference in the US last Thursday, AOL CEO Steve Case made his position clear: "Like the online consumer, we're fed up with spam. We are adopting a block and tackle strategy against spammers. That is, we're going to block as many of their e-mails at the gateway as we can, and we're going to tackle them in court."

As part of its campaign, AOL will lobby the US Senate to make junk e-mail a criminal offence. It is already outlawed in some states, including Virginia, Ohio, California and New York.

AOL currently has nine lawsuits filed against spammers and has compiled a "10 most wanted" spammer list which includes companies like Lovetoys Online, the Notoriously Nasty Spammer and PlanetLoveJoy.

Case issued a stark warning for the offenders: "The spammers on our '10 Most Wanted' list represent a severe impediment to the growth of the medium and are causing a significant depreciation of the experience for the average consumer. We look forward to taking them on one at a time."

While America leads the way, there remain no immediate plans to lobby parliament in the UK. The spokeswoman said: "We might (lobby parliament) if junk mail is generated in the UK but at the moment it is coming from the US."

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