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Japan's NTT DoCoMo fights back against junk e-mail

October 29, 2001

TOKYO, Oct 29 (Reuters) - NTT DoCoMo Inc (9437), Japan's top mobile operator, said on Monday it clinched a temporary injunction against a company sending massive amounts of unwanted e-mail to users of its 'i-mode' Internet-access service.

When it launched i-mode in 1999, DoCoMo had unwittingly made it easy for Web operators to bombard the nearly 29 million people that currently use i-mode with junk mail simply by generating random 11-digit e-mail addresses on a computer.

That's because the addresses were based on users' phone numbers assigned when they opted for the i-mode service, and not on more complicated arrangements of letters and digits.

The injunction, filed in the city of Yokohama, is valid for a year from Monday and bars a Web company, Global Networks, from sending randomly generated e-mail to addresses with the suffix "".

"We hope that the legal steps we have taken will send a strong signal for other similar companies to refrain from sending mass e-mail," Susumu Hirano, chief counsel in DoCoMo's legal department, told reporters.

"If necessary, we will take further steps, up to and including criminal proceedings."

A variety of Web-based services continue to "spam" -- or inundate -- i-mode users with junk mail, including offers of salacious services and access to dating clubs.

The unwanted messages have resulted in tens of thousands of complaints from users and queries on how to change e-mail addresses.

In response, DoCoMo took steps in July to make new subscribers choose their own addresses and encourage existing users to change theirs.

Since August it has also offered a limited amount of free data transmission since users are charged for mail received as well as sent.

DoCoMo estimates the steps it has taken to alleviate the junk mail problem will cost about 27 billion yen ($220.1 million) in lost revenue in the year to March 2002. ($1=122)

Copyright © 2001 Reuters Limited


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