Updated: 25 October, 2001
www.ecofuture.org/jmdomainabuse.html

 

Junk Mail and Spam Internet Domain Abuse

(How to Get Rid of Junk Mail, Spam, and Telemarketers)


 

Internet Domain Abuse


 
If you register a domain on the Internet, your personal information is made public to spammers and junkmailers. Network Solutions, (formerly part of Internic) is the primary company that handles your registration, although there are now others. When you register, your contact information is made publicly available. According to Sherry Proehl (703.742.4894) assistant to David Grades, Director of Business Affairs, in 1999 they no longer released large quantities of names. This was reaffirmed on 15 June, 2000 by Sophia Soussan (703.742.0400) in charge of list marketing, who said they do not sell their lists. They do promote companies such as Gateway and Dell, but only in mailings to their customers. Sophia said people mine their database with automated whois commands and then sell the lists. This is an underground business. She noted that CD2000 is one company in Canada doing this (they appear to be domain registrars).
 
Networks Solutions' privacy policy at http://www.networksolutions.com/legal/privacy-policy.html says "...our registry unit also discloses the TLD zone files [described below] to other interested persons, provided those persons agree, among other things, not to use the TLD zone files for improper purposes, including the transmission of unsolicited commercial e-mail." From this it is not clear that they refrain from giving your private information to junkmailers.
 
Then they go on to say "Qualified persons may also access such data on a bulk basis provided they agree, among other things, not to use the data to enable or otherwise support the transmission of mass unsolicited commercial advertising or solicitations via email; or (ii) sell or redistribute the data to third parties. If you do not want your personal information disclosed on a bulk basis, you may send us an email at privacy@networksolutions.com. Include the words "remove bulk access" in the subject line of the e-mail and all the domain names for which you are the registrant in the body of the e-mail."
 
"Additionally, we may share the information stored on that database, as well as other information that is not of a sensitive nature, with carefully selected business partners, including those who offer services that complement those provided by us or which may otherwise be of interest to you. If you do not want us to share information about you with our business partners, you may send us an e-mail at privacy@networksolutions.com. Include the words "remove domain" in the subject line of the e-mail and all the domain names for which you are the registrant in the body of the e-mail.
 
 
There are several ways a spammer or junkmailer can obtain your personal information:
  • From Network Solutions. Be sure to send the two emails to them as described above.
  • From other registering agencies. Check their privacy policy.
  • By issuing a whois inquiry on a pattern which will match a large number of names. This process can be automated by illicit spammers.
  • By masquerading as an Internet Service Provider, and intercepting the TLD Zone Files (also called Root Zone Files). These files are distributed every week to all ISP's, and contain about 2,500 updates and new domains, with public contact information included.

 
 
One of the main illicit lists that is being sold to hundreds of companies is called the Internet Manager Master File. This list is sold primarily by the list broker Direct Media in California (Rich Parker 925.975.4664). (Another contact is Bill McKay, 925.975.4663, but it is not clear if he works directly for Direct Media. His phone announcement says to email listinfo@bigfoot.com for more information, but be careful providing your private email address to bigfoot).
 
Direct Media claims they buy the list from the listowner who resides in Malaysia and England. The company registered in England is Advanced Systems. Dale Hubbard is the owner and in July 1994 had been listed at the number 800.726.5885 in Spokeanne WA (be persistent - calls to this number asking for Dale Hubbard of Advanced Systems have resulted in abrupt hang-ups). He was listed in Malaysia as of August 1994 at the following numbers: +604.433239 (voice) and +604.5751743 (fax).
 
Companies that have purchased the illicit Internet Manager Master File from Direct Media include Dell Computers, CDW (computer products), Intuit (Quicken), and MBNA mastercard. When contacted, these companies often feign innocence. Upon further investigation it becomes quite clear that they are aware of how the list was obtained. For example, Dell customer service managers refuse to communicate with customers when questioned about use of this illicit list. Their customer service reps are instructed to say that address suppression lists are purchased from the DMA Mail Preference Service. This is clearly incorrect. The rule of thumb repeatedly demonstrated by Dell is to dissuade customer inquiries via disinformation and outright rudeness.
 

 
Another illicit junkmail company is Getko Response, 2345 Young St #910, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4P2E5 (the President is Joel Zychick). Their home office is located at 115 S. Service Rd, PO Box 1400, Westbury NY 11590 (Their parent company is Cendant, 707 Summer St, Stanford, CT 06901; Getko changed their name from Syntony Marketing). In February, 1998, Ken Masson and Jonathan Latsky (416.322.8153), stated they purchased names and addresses from their ISP, RS Enterprises, and then Getko sold them to business for junkmailing. On March 18, 1998, Dave Hart (416.322.8153, dhart@synthony.com) stated that they purchased names from their ISP, but he had no knowledge that Internic files were being pirated or used inappropriately.
 
When contacted in February 1998, Rob Fleischman at RS Enterprises (416.599.7770) said they "are one of a select one thousand companies around the world selected by Network Solutions to distribute names and addresses because we have 'proven' ourselves in the past". When asked for more technical information, he offered to describe how to intercept Internic files directly, and obtain about 2,500 names and addresses per week. On March 18, 1998, Rob was again contacted, having obviously forgotten the previous conversation. He said "Internic makes available their name and address file to 4 companies in 3 states". Clearly, this is a scam, and Rob seems well-versed in his methodology.
 

 
Network Solutions claims that no ISP is given permission to distribute public information from TLD Zone files, but the information is public, and unscrupulous and unethical ISPs such as RS Enterprises pirate the data and sell it to junk mailers as well as spammers (the data contains contact email addresses).
 
Network Solutions does, however, automatically place new domains in its dot.com directory. You must request removal after you register a domain.
 
You can help put an end to the pirating:
  • When you receive junkmail addressed to the name and address where your domain is registered, track down and contact the junk mailers. Find out who sold them their list. Demand that your privacy not be violated.
  • Contact Network Solutions (703.742.4777 or 703.742.4894, complaints@internic.net) to express dissatisfaction. Request that implement an opt-in system whereby mailing information is released with a tag indicating that a customer specifically asked to receive junkmail. Also request they track down and shut off any ISP who is releasing information from Root Zone Files.

 
Additional advice:
  • When registering a private domain, use a PO Box rather than a home address.
  • When listing your name or your company name, use a unique middle initial or suffix.
  • For additional privacy, list the general information number for your area as your phone number (for example, 212.555.1212).
  • After registering, remove your contact information from directories like Network Solutions' dot.comdirectory.

 


 
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Copyright 1995-2003 Fred Elbel. This material may be freely used and distributed only for non-commercial purposes, with credit. Trademarks and copyrighted items remain the property of the owner.