America Online Announces 'AOL's 10 Most Wanted Spammers List'

March 5, 1998

Company Announces Progress in Two Other Spam Cases in Ongoing Fight to Protect Members Against Unsolicited E-Mail DULLES, VA, March 5, 1998 - Today, America Online, Inc., announced a new, more aggressive campaign against unsolicited e-mail, or "spam." Continuing its battle on behalf of its members, the Company also warned that it may seek federal legislation to put spammers out of the business. In a speech before the Jupiter Consumer Online Conference on Thursday, America Online CEO Steve Case took spammers to task and announced "AOL's 10 Most Wanted Spammer List," which included Lovetoys Online, the Notoriously Nasty Spammer, PlanetLovejoy and loseweight.org. He said the Company would build a case against each one and pursue them in court where possible. "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," Case warned. "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." AOL filed suit against a company it charged with using the AOL and AOL.com trade names on a series of pornographic Web sites, as well as in spam sent to AOL members promoting the sites. The Company also announced that it had obtained a judgment in its anti-spam lawsuit against Prime Data Worldnet Systems, Inc., and its proprietor, Vernon N. Hale. In addition, the Company said that another spam defendant, Squeaky Clean Marketing, had agreed to a permanent injunction which will bar Squeaky Clean Marketing from ever e-mailing AOL members again. AOL has been fighting spam for many months by giving its members tools to better control the e-mail they receive, providing an area online devoted to educating members about unsolicited e-mail at KW: Junk Mail and by sending more than 500 cease and desist letters to spammers and following up with lawsuits against many of them. AOL's New Anti-Spam Lawsuit On Monday, AOL filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia charging Eddie Davidson and his two firms, Web Communications and Sex Web, Inc., with violations of the federal copyright statute, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and the Virginia Computer Crimes Act. The suit alleges that Davidson and his two firms unlawfully transacted business under names like AOLsex.com. In addition, the suit seeks damages and an injunction barring Davidson and the two companies from continuing the transmission of unsolicited e-mails to AOL members promoting sexually explicit Web sites. More specifically, AOL charged that the defendants violated federal and Virginia state law by using the Company's trademark, copying the design of its AOL.com Web site and falsely including the Company's domain name in return addresses in order to make it appear that the site and solicitations were sponsored or approved by AOL. The Company said Davidson and his two firms also knowingly sent unsolicited bulk e-mail to AOL using deceptive practices designed to circumvent AOL's mail controls and to hide the source from which they were being mailed. George Vradenburg, Senior Vice President and General Counsel of America Online, Inc., said: "The conduct of these defendants has been nothing short of outrageous. They have been actively engaged in transmitting millions of unsolicited, unwanted e-mails advertising pornographic Web sites without regard to the age of their recipients. As if that were not bad enough, they have deliberately exploited AOL's name in a manner calculated to suggest that AOL somehow endorsed their pornographic Web sites, when nothing could be further from the truth." Progress in the Prime Data Worldnet and Squeaky Clean Marketing Cases A federal court has entered judgment for AOL in its lawsuit against Vernon Hale and his spam company, Prime Data Worldnet, after Hale and his company failed to contest AOL's charges. The default judgment awarded to AOL comes after AOL filed suit on October 17, 1997 charging that Prime Data Worldnet and Hale, violated federal and Virginia state law by sending AOL members unsolicited e-mails promoting "get-rich" schemes. The judgment will bar Hale and Prime Data Worldnet from sending junk e-mail to AOL members. AOL also announced that it had successfully concluded its suit (filed on December 18, 1997) against spammers Squeaky Clean Marketing and Cyber Services, both based in Dallas, Georgia. Both companies had been sending large quantities of junk e-mail to AOL members, promoting products ranging from baldness cures to get-rich-quick schemes, as well as do it yourself spamming software to enable other users to send their own junk e-mail. The volume of e-mail being sent by Squeaky Clean and Cyber Service resulted in thousands of AOL member complaints. While the terms of the settlement are confidential, AOL said that the spammers had agreed to an injunction that will bar them from ever sending e-mail to AOL members again, as well as the payment of an undisclosed sum of damages. America Online, Inc., [NYSE: AOL] based in Dulles, Virginia, is the world's leader in branded interactive services and content. America Online operates two worldwide Internet online services: AOL, with more than 11 million members; and CompuServe, with more than 2 million members. America Online also operates AOL Studios, the world's leading creator of original interactive content. Other branded Internet services operated by America Online include AOL.COM, the world's most accessed Web site from home; AOL Instant Messenger, allowing instant communication with all Internet users; and AOL NetFind, AOL's comprehensive guide to the Internet. Please note the attached "AOL's 10 Most Wanted Spammer List."

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