Verizon Settles with Spammer

Verizon unit Verizon Online announced Monday it settled its anti-spam lawsuit against a Detroit-based commercial email firm.

Verizon cited both federal law and Virginia state law when it sued Additional Benefits, and its owner, Alan Ralsky, in federal court in Virginia in March 2001. Verizon said Additional Benefits, in late 2000, had allegedly flooded the inboxes of its subscribers with unsolicited commercial email advertising diet pills, online gambling, credit repair tools, new car buying services, computer programs and home-based business opportunities.

Virginia’s law allows for statutory damages of as much as $10 per illegal email or $25,000 for every day a spam message is transmitted. That amount is in addition to attorneys’ fees and costs of the lawsuit.

Under the terms of the settlement, Ralsky and Additional Benefits will pay unspecified damages to Verizon. They have also agreed to an injunction barring them from transmitting unsolicited bulk email through Verizon’s network or to its subscribers.

“This is a clear victory for our subscribers,” said Thomas M. Dailey, general counsel for Verizon Online. “No one likes to open their mail and see it full of spam. This permanent injunction ensures that our subscribers never have to receive another piece of unwanted email from these defendants, and sends a signal to other commercial emailers that they should think twice before spamming Verizon Online.”

Verizon has been plagued by spam attacks in the past. One spam attack in November 2000 contributed to problems with Verizon’s DSL service that crippled much of its network in the Northeast states.

As a result, the firm has aggressively used the law, when possible, to rein in spammers. And in January 2002, it teamed with San Francisco-based message management and content-filtering company Brightmail to provide all its dial-up and broadband customers with free access to Brightmail’s spam filtering software.

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