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The web bites back


ReligionNewsBlog.com • Tuesday December 17, 2002

Web used to flood spammers and spooks
BBC, Dec. 16, 2002
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/2580089.stm

Protesters are turning the tables on government officials and businessmen who they say are making the web less pleasant to use.

The web activists have found the personal details of the man behind a federal surveillance system and an e-mail spammer and are giving them a dose of their own medicine.

The home address and phone numbers of the two men being widely circulated and posted on more than 100 websites.

The action has led to the spammer being deluged with junk mail, and the boss of the surveillance project undergoing the scrutiny that every American will soon be under.

Spam the spammer

Bulk spammer Alan Ralsky has been the first to feel the wrath of outraged web activists.

Many web users see spam, or unsolicited commercial e-mail, as a curse that needs to be curbed.

Mr Ralsky is widely acknowledged as a prolific spammer and has said he has the ability to send more than a billion e-mails per day.

To protest against the way that he makes a living, anti-spammers have found his home address and have signed him up with as many direct mail agencies as possible.

As a result he is now being deluged with junk mail.

An article in the Detroit Free Press chronicled his anguish.

“They’re harassing me.” he told the newspaper. His complaint caused glee on the Slashdot website which hatched the junk mail plan.

Data exposed

Similar treatment is being meted out to John Poindexter, the man in charge of the US Government’s Total Information Awareness program.

This will bring together credit card, medical, travel, school and other records to help spot terrorists.

Many web users consider the project to be a gross infringement of privacy and now are subjecting Mr Poindexter to 24-hour scrutiny.

Mr Poindexter’s home address, complete with satellite photos, has been published online as has his home phone number and that of his neighbours.

The protest was started by SF Weekly columnist Matt Smith and the information he ferreted out is now widely available online.

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