America Online Again Takes Aim at Operators of Pornographic Web Sites

January 28, 1998

DULLES, VA, January 28, 1998 - America Online, Inc. continued its fight against unsolicited junk e-mail last week when it filed suit against two Michigan companies responsible for the transmission of thousands of unsolicited messages to AOL members that advertised the companies' pornographic sites on the World Wide Web. The suit, filed January 22, 1998 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, seeks an injunction to prevent the companies from persistently aggravating AOL members with junk e-mail. The suit also seeks damages from both companies, which are owned and operated by the same individuals. The companies named in the suit are LCGM, Inc. and Web Promo, Inc., both of Madison Heights, Michigan. America Online charges in its suit that LCGM and Web Promo violated federal and state laws by repeatedly spamming AOL members with advertisements from a myriad of Internet domains, including: 'live-video-sex.com,' 'pornjunkie.com,' 'hot- sex.com' and 'xxxratedsex.com' Although AOL demanded that both companies stop sending unsolicited bulk e-mail, the companies persisted in using deceptive techniques to circumvent AOL's e-mail filtering technology. The suit also alleges that LCGM, Inc. and Web Promo, Inc. forged references to AOL's domain name 'aol.com' in their junk e-mail. The use of forged references to 'aol.com,' a practice that has become increasingly common among junk e-mailers, is designed to hinder AOL's ability to detect and filter such unwanted e-mail. The unauthorized use of 'aol.com' by spammers is designed to mislead AOL members into believing that the junk e-mail originates from AOL, and that AOL condones or tolerates it. The suit also targets the practice of including hypertext links to pornographic Web sites in junk e-mail, a practice that has been highly criticized by AOL and its members. The e-mails with hypertext links, which are sent indiscriminately to AOL members regardless of age, provide direct acces to pornographic Web sites. The suit alleges that LCGM and Web Promo have made extensive use of this practice.

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