Clear Net risks being regarded as a safe haven for email spammers unless it adopts a clear policy on the issue, according to several other ISPs who caught an unsolicited bulk mailout over the weekend.
The commercial message, from firstname.lastname@example.org, went to the postmaster address at many domains in the New Zealand DNS. Peter Belt of Auckland ISP Web World says the messages came through "for hours" on Saturday, to all domains for which he holds MX records.
@IDG has been unable to get a statement on usage policy from Clear Net, despite several calls over two days, and Alan Brown, of Planet NZ Manawatu says he will maintain a block on mail from Clear Net "until I get an undertaking that they will implement a decent policy regarding spam.
"I've asked them several times to get somebody to call me - preferably in the afternoon because of the hours that I keep. I got a message on my answerphone at 9.30am from Gordon King, Clear's operations manager, asking me to call him, but all I've been able to reach since is his voicemail."
Brown says Clear Net's response so far has not been adequate - and it may cost the ISP its reputation.
"If it becomes known that they're light on spammers - and this isn't the first spamming incident from Clear - then you're going to find more people doing hit-and-runs from them.
"Our policy is instant account suspension. We've caught people spamming and just about everybody who spams on us has had their account closed and the same goes for IRC abuse - we don't mess around."
The message, headed 'New site for your promotions', is an advertisement for Netads Internet Business Directories' 'Teleguide' site, which is among pages hosted by the Internet Group (Ihug) - which was, ironically, the victim of the first spamming incident from Clear Net, not long after its launch.
The Teleguide site until yesterday compounded the sins of the spammers by using, without permission forward TV listings (for which other publishers pay quite handsomely) and logos from the major TV broadcasters. The listings have now been deleted, apparently at the behest of TVNZ.
TVNZ was first onto this use of its copyrighted listings, says Ihug director Tim Wood.
"Roger Masters from TVNZ called me last week to tell me there was copyright material on the site," says Wood. "I'm not sure how he found out. He asked me for the phone number of the people who created the site and I said I couldn't provide that, but I emailed the people concerned and told them to contact him. They replied and said they would."
"Everybody's getting excited about the Web, but people need to realise there's such a thing as copyright," says TVNZ spokesperson Lesley Jackson. "It's just naivete - people don't think about what they're doing."
TV3's chief financial officer, Warwick Webb, confirmed that its listings had also been used without permission "and had they not been deleted we would certainly have sent a letter to the people concerned."
The exact identity of the people concerned is not clear, but the spam message was signed by Sandra McFarlane and the Netads and Teleguide pages are hosted below The New Zealand Star Trek Fan Club's home page.
The page in question now carries a headline declaring "Our market research has finished" and listings have been deleted, but warns visitors to "keep this page bookmarked because we WILL be back."
A further note at the bottom of the page offers an apology for "any inconvenience" suffered as a result of the mail-out, which is described as "a one-off box-drop to gauge responses - we do not consider it to be spamming in any way as it was directed only to domain names."
The mailing does, however, appear to contravene the licensing provisions of Pegasus Mail, the mail client used to send the spam. Alan Brown says he has forwarded copies of the messages to Pegasus "and it'll be interesting to see what action they take."