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Website register spamming leads to e-mail trouble

December 19, 2001 

A New Zealander caught up in a speculative internet domain registration scheme regrets sending out "spam" e-mail to advise others he thought might be interested.

"I'm quite embarrassed about it. It sounded like a good idea. I felt it was a topic of interest to that particular group," said Mike Jansen, of Tauranga-based Apex Computer Solutions.

Mr Jansen e-mailed about 300 members of an investor newsgroup after visiting and paying $US20 apiece for six "pre-registered" .biz domains.

Although the domains are not yet available, RegLand operates a bit like paying someone to stand in line for concert tickets - by promising it will use its automated system to push a customer's registration through as fast as possible when new domains open up.

But although the United States-based Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which is responsible for allocating the new domains, has passed a resolution to introduce a number of top-level domain names, (.info, .biz, .aero, .name, .pro, .museum, and .coop), it has not started taking registrations.

The US consumer watchdog the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has also warned that it is misleading for any service or entrepreneur to offer pre-registration or accept fees for domain names that may never come into existence.

In addition, if ICANN decides to add top-level domain names to the present mix (such as .org, .com and .net), it is likely to set rules about their availability and allocation to ensure fair access.

IT consultant Mark Burch, a New Zealander based in Melbourne, was one of the recipients of Mr Jansen's e-mail, which said "many .com names were sold at extraordinary profits. The next rush now on is for .biz names."

Mr Burch suspected that the e-mail had a local origin as it mentioned that the domain was still available. His suspicions were further aroused when he noticed that the return address of the e-mail was specified as

The site was not operational, but a domain name check at Domainz revealed the name was owned by Apex.

According to Mr Burch, the e-mail header information showed that the e-mail had been relayed by the mail server belonging to ComNet Networks. ComNet, which hosts Apex, is a business unit of Auckland-based Industrial Research, a crown research institute providing network services to businesses.

ComNet's general manager, Joy Paterson, confirmed that "an e-mail" had been sent by ComNet customer Apex. She was unaware of the number of recipients but understood the e-mail was sent "by accident" while Apex "was testing something."

Mr Jansen said his e-mail advised recipients the pre-registrations were a speculative opportunity.

"It was nothing to do with ComNet. I sent it out of my own mailbox. It's nothing to do with Apex either - they [the domain names] are for my own purposes. I regret doing it because of the repercussions. I've shot myself in the foot."

By MICHAEL FOREMAN and CHRIS BARTON. Copyright © 2001, New Zealand Herald

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