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Alan Ralsky, King of Spam
Douglas Chick 

The Internet commonly knows Alan Ralsky as the world’s largest most prolific spammer, but recently his spamming has come to a halt. He stopping sending spam before President Bush, on December 16, signed the new Can Spam Act, a law meant to crack down on marketers, like Ralsky.

Don’t start celebrating yet, Ralsky plans to resume his spam again in January after he overcomes some computer problems and only after he changes his practices to include in his messages a return address and other information required by the CAN-SPAM law, which stands for Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing.  

By his own admission, he once produced more than 70 million messages a day from domains registered with fake names, largely by way of foreign countries — or sometimes even by way of hijacked computers — so that the recipients could not trace the mail back to him.

Most experts in junk e-mail, known as spam, have dismissed the new federal law as largely ineffectual. And many high-volume e-mailers say the law may even improve the situation for them because it wipes away a handful of tougher state laws.

But Ralsky, who lives in a Detroit suburb, says the law's potential penalties — fines of up to $6 million and up to five years in jail — are making him rethink his business.  

"Of course I'm worried about it," he said after the law was signed. "You would have to be stupid to try to violate this law."

In recent weeks, authorities have finally gotten the attention of spammers with a series of tough civil and criminal actions. Recently, Ralsky said the law is more one-sided than he originally thought. ISP, he figures, will be able to tag and discard his mail with more certainty.

At 58, Alan Ralsky seems an incongruous character in an industry largely made up of men from the Nintendo generation. "I am the oldest spammer you know of," he said.

"You have a bunch of kids in their late 20's doing this with a lot more technical knowledge than I have. But they don't have any business sense."

Source for this story came from NYT News Service    

 




 


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