Antispammer maintains fight after court victory

An antispam activist has vowed to continue to publish the details of spammers in Australia, and their ISPs, after the District Court of Western Australia dismissed a lawsuit against him for allegedly providing the IP address of a marketing firm to an antispam Web site.

Perth-based The Which Company, trading as T3 Direct, filed an affidavit against Joey McNicol on 2 July claiming he gave its IP address to antispam Web site spews.org. However, the court found the plaintiff could not prove McNicol had informed SPEWS of the IP address, or that this would be illegal.

The court's deputy registrar Richard Hewitt said the lawsuit was "speculative and based on propositions [the plaintiff] knew to be incorrect".

"They said I reported them to SPEWS, but there's no way of contacting SPEWS," said a "pretty pleased" McNicol after the judgement in Perth on Monday.

Via spews.org, Internet users blocked e-mail from the IP address of T3 Direct.

ISPs and network administrators maintain SPEWS' list of spammers' IP addresses. ISPs and Internet users can block e-mail from these addresses, with ISPs denying such marketing companies access to their customers.

McNicol said he only published publicly available information about T3 Direct on the Internet, such as name and other business details.

"What I did was post their business details to a newsgroup. There's only room left for an appeal if he [The Which Company director Wayne Mansfield] can show evidence I contacted SPEWS. But there is no evidence. Everything I posted was factual and the truth, anyway.

"They claimed unlawful interference with a business, which is pretty hard to prove when I didn't do anything physically, all I did was post facts about the business publicly."

McNicol said with the case behind him, he could publish the spammers' details on his Web site again.

"I'm gonna make public spammers in Australia and their ISPs. I've been doing this, and now I will be able to update my site since I haven't been able to since this action all started."

McNicol said he had found Australia's ISPs to be "supportive" of his campaign, and said some have previously contacted him.

McNicol, an electronics technician, said he had received donations in support of his court defence totalling $10,000 via his Web site. Donations came from as far afield as Japan, Sweden and Brazil, he said.

"I have had thousands of e-mails since this started, and I have had not one negative e-mail," he said.

McNicol said businesses using the Internet for e-mail marketing should ask for people's permission beforehand, otherwise Internet users should publish spammers' IP addresses.

"Don't accept the cost, complain loudly," he said. "If you know spammers' details, post them on newsgroups. Show who's hosting, show a sample of the e-mail, and include the header."

McNicol's campaign started after he received spam from T3 Direct, promoting advertisement design services. He clicked a link in the e-mail claiming it would unsubscribe users from the mailing list, but it failed.

He then looked up the phone number for the business, only to find it didn't exist. After finding other business details in the e-mail were also false, he decided to track down the business.

After doing so, he told T3 director Wayne Mansfield he wished to stop receiving his business' spam. "I remember him telling me he wouldn't, because 'we dare to challenge the right of people to shut us down'. ""So I think it's like Mansfield says, it's all about choice. But 100 per cent of people choose not to receive it [junk mail]."

McNicol's Web site can be seen at http://t3-v-mcnicol.ilaw.com.au

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Steven Deare

Computerworld
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