Usenet admins apply "death penalty" to big US ISP

An informal group of system administrators who issued a Usenet Death Penalty (UDP) on UUNet, a major US ISP, did what some considered a necessary last-ditch measure and others as an act of vigilantism. The UDP, issued on the basis that newsgroup users are fed up with too much spam, threatened that all of the traffic from UUNet would be canceled until the ISP showed substantial improvement in reducing the amount of spam coming through its service and into Usenet newsgroups.

An informal group of system administrators who issued a Usenet Death Penalty (UDP) on UUNet, a major US ISP, did what some considered a necessary last-ditch measure and others as an act of vigilantism.

The UDP, which was said to be issued on the basis that newsgroup users are fed up with too much spam, threatened that all of the traffic from UUNet would be canceled until the ISP showed substantial improvement in reducing the amount of spam coming through its service and into Usenet newsgroups.

One Usenet administrator, determined to get relief, decided to refuse all posts originating from UUNet, rather than issuing cancels when the posts come in.

However, a UUNet official pointed out that this type of action inconveniences legitimate users - UUNet users with messages to post, and other Usenet users who may need to see these messages - as much as spammers.

In a statement made last week by UUNet, the company claimed a zero-tolerance policy on spam. Alan Taffel, UUNet's vice president of marketing and business development, said UUNet has not been complacent.

"We have been taking what we thought were necessary actions to address spamming, identifying over 600 spamming operations in the last few months," Taffel said. "In each of these cases, the spammers were dealt with directly or turned over to those resellers who sold them the service, who then took the appropriate action."

UUNet Technologies Inc., in Fairfax, Virginia, can be reached at http://www.uu.net.

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