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AOL anti-spam gear zaps Earthlink e-mail


March 20, 2001

America Online Inc. has fixed a problem that zapped some incoming e-mail from Earthlink Inc. subscribers, but AOL did take its time getting around to it, an Earthlink spokesman said. For as long as two weeks, anti-spam software used by AOL intercepted and deleted hundreds of thousands of e-mail messages from Earthlink customers, Earthlink communications director Arley Baker said. "By our estimates it might have eliminated 100,000 e-mails a day," Baker said. "All we can do is ballpark it. It's a good amount of mail, even if its only affecting a small percentage of our member base." Messages routed through three or four of Earthlink's eight servers were sent to a "black hole," he said, while mail going through the others was not. AOL said its system automatically shields members from servers that are sending large volumes of spam, said AOL spokesman Andrew Weinstein. "A small percentage of Earthlink servers fell into that category and we have since resolved the issue," he said. He declined to elaborate. Baker said AOL's anti-spam mechanism intercepted Earthlink e-mail "indiscriminately" and denied that heavy spam traffic was traveling through Earthlink's servers. "From our end there was no way that they were deciphering what was spam and what wasn't. We don't harbor spammers," he said. Earthlink first learned of the lost e-mail in the middle of last week, five days after the problem erupted, but AOL did not respond in a timely fashion, he said. "They fixed the problem yesterday (Monday), but they knew about the problem from last Tuesday or Wednesday on," said Baker. But Weinstein said AOL learned of the problem late Friday and addressed Earthlink's concerns appropriately. About five percent of Earthlink's 10-20 million e-mail exchanges per day are with AOL subscribers, and between 30-40 percent of the Earthlink-to-AOL messages were not reaching their destination, Baker said. AOL is far and away the No. 1 Internet service provider with more than 28 million members to No. 2 Earthlink's 4.7 million subscribers. America Online is on the Web at http://www.aol.com Earthlink is at http://www.earthlink.net Reported by Newsbytes.com, http://www.newsbytes.com

Dick Kelsey, Newsbytes, © 2001 The Washington Post Company


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