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Mailblocks Aggressively Supports CAN-SPAM Law, Creates Consumer Resource Center [16th December 2003]

LOS ALTOS, CALIFORNIA—December 16, 2003—Mailblocks, a leading provider of consumer email services utilizing its patented Challenge/Response anti-spam technology, today announced the creation of a new Consumer Resource Center to help consumers fully leverage protection offered by the new Federal anti-spam law signed earlier today by President Bush. The legislation will take effect January 1, 2004.

Effective today, Mailblocks will post an outline of the law and reference material for consumers on how they can best utilize its provisions to protect themselves and seek compensation for damages. This information can be found in Mailblocks' Consumer Resource Center at http://about.mailblocks.com/consumerinfo. Additionally, when the law goes into effect, Mailblocks will begin to reference the CAN-SPAM Act in the language contained in its Challenge/Response 2.0 messages—putting potential spammers on notice that it will aggressively support the new law and take action to protect its customers. Mailblocks is also planning to use the new federal and California laws, as well as industry-based solutions, to recover the damages that Mailblocks and its users may incur as a result of illegal spam, and is encouraging its members to report spam that violates Mailblocks' policy and the new laws.

The major provisions of the new law make it unlawful to initiate or retransmit multiple “commercial emails,” with penalties ranging from unspecified fines of up to five years imprisonment if a felony is involved. It also provides for an opt-out mechanism and makes it unlawful to initiate transmission of commercial emails to a “protected computer” that contain materially false or misleading header information. And the law prohibits certain “aggravated violations” such as harvesting and dictionary attacks, automated creation of multiple email accounts and relay or retransmission through unauthorized access. The law also grants the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) authority to make rules relating to sexually oriented emails.

While the new CAN-SPAM Act is to be enforced primarily by the FTC, other federal agencies and State attorney generals, it may also be enforced by “a provider of Internet service adversely affected by a violation in a civil action in any federal court with jurisdiction over the defendant.” The CAN-SPAM law gives Internet service providers such as Mailblocks the ability to set its own policies for use of its systems, and gives providers the ability to recover actual monetary loss or statutory damages of up to $100 per email in the case of misleading transmission information, up to $25 per email for other violations and up to a total of $1 million.

“Our goal is to protect consumers from spam, and we'll utilize both technology and the law to do so,” said Mailblocks' CEO Phil Goldman. “The new legislation, combined with our stringent terms of service and the unique capabilities inherent in our Challenge/Response anti-spam technology, will allow us to take a stronger stand against would-be spammers.

Goldman added: “While we were disappointed that the opt-in system provided under California's Anti-Spam law has been blocked for now, the new federal law has not preempted our terms of service, nor has it totally preempted the anti-fraud provisions of California law. It may actually enhance the usefulness of Mailblocks' Challenge/Response 2.0 technology since only Challenge-Response technology ensures that would-be spammers are put on actual notice of our terms of service before they attempt to send spam to our users' inbox.”

Mailblocks' Customer Protection Program
In addition to spammers, another issue Mailblocks is addressing is how to help shield consumers from aggressive or presumptuous individuals who may complete a Challenge and send unsolicited and unwanted commercial email. Mailblocks is asking its members to forward any mail that the recipient believes is in violation of its policies or the law. Mailblocks may then report the sender to an industry organization that could penalize them or bar them from so-called “trusted sender” programs. Mailblocks will also consider bringing legal action against senders who violate Mailblocks policy or its rights under the new laws. Since October when new California anti-spam legislation was enacted, Mailblocks has incorporated a warning into its service to alert spammers and other unwanted senders via text which appears on its Challenge “puzzle” page, where senders are asked to authorize themselves. The text is being modified to support the CAN-SPAM Act and reads:

As a provider of Internet access service as defined by federal law, Mailblocks, Inc. has adopted the following policy. In order to send your message in response to this Challenge you must agree to abide by the following policy by clicking the “Agree” button:

Mailblocks, Inc. does not authorize the use of its computer network (including its equipment located in the state of California) to accept, transmit, route, relay, handle, store or distribute any electronic mail messages that are or contain any of the following, as defined by California Business and Professions Code Sections 17538.45, 17529 et seq. and the United States CAN-SPAM Act of 2003:

(1) unsolicited electronic mail messages or unsolicited electronic mail advertisements,

(2) electronic mail messages that contain materially false or materially misleading header information including falsified, forged or modified message headers,

(3) commercial electronic mail messages and transactional or relationship messages for which the recipient has not given affirmative consent or does not have a preexisting or current business relationship,

(4) commercial electronic mail messages that do not contain a functioning return electronic mail address or other Internet-based mechanism, clearly and conspicuously displayed, that allow the recipient not to receive future commercial electronic mail messages from the sender, or

(5) email that otherwise violates Mailblocks' Terms of Service located here and at our website www.mailblocks.com, California Business and Professions Code Sections 17538.45, 17529 et seq. or the United States CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, or other applicable laws and regulations.

Violation of this policy may result in civil liability and criminal penalties under federal and state law, including the United States CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, California Business and Professions Code Section 17538.45, California Penal Code Section 502, and California Business and Professions Code Sections 17529 et seq.  By clicking on the "Agree" button above, you agree, represent and warrant that you have received actual notice of this policy, are in compliance with this policy and will not violate this policy at any time, and you agree not to send electronic mail in violation of this policy to any Mailblocks address. If you do not wish to agree to this policy, you must click “Cancel” and your electronic mail will not be sent to the intended recipient.

About Challenge/Response 2.0
Challenge/Response 2.0 is the only anti-spam solution that fully protects users from spammers. Unlike filters, which often throw out the good mail with the bad – known as ‘false positives,' Challenge/Response technology places all questionable messages in a Pending folder and automatically sends a request to unknown senders to authenticate themselves (called a Challenge) by typing in the seven digit code shown on the computer screen. Machine-generated email cannot reply to Challenge messages, so the original email is never placed into the consumer's inbox. New users need respond only once to a Challenge in order to be recognized in the future. Therefore, the only email users see in their inbox is from recognized correspondents or new contacts who respond to the Challenge message.

A number of its features and functionality set Mailblocks apart from the competition, particularly compared with other anti-spam solutions. Mailblocks offers a superior all-in-one Web-based email solution according to recent studies by the independent research firm The Tolly Group. (The full Tolly Group reports are available at http://about.mailblocks.com/downloads/TollyCRcomparison.pdf .)

About Mailblocks
Mailblocks, Inc. is a new class of Web-based email service for consumers. Founded in July 2002 by Phil Goldman, a former Microsoft executive and a founder of WebTV, Mailblocks started with a simple idea: improve the consumer email experience—make it better, more manageable and—above all else—free from the aggravation of spam. Using state-of-the-art technology, an assemblage of talented, passionate and experienced individuals and a customer research driven development model, Mailblocks is dedicated to helping people restore and fulfill the true potential of email communication. To learn more about Mailblocks, visit our Web site
at www.mailblocks.com or contact pr@mailblocks.com .


For More Information:
Krause Taylor Associates for Mailblocks
Betty Taylor
(408) 918-9082



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