Friday, March 5, 2004

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — An Internet service provider sued the operator and online marketer of the home-improvement Web site, accusing them of violating a new federal antispam law.

In a suit filed in federal court in San Francisco Thursday, Hypertouch Inc., a small Internet service provider based in Foster City, Calif., accused BVWebTies LLC and BlueStream Media of sending e-mail ads for Bob Vila’s “Home Again Newsletter” to recipients who had specifically requested to be removed from that e-mail list.

The unwanted e-mail also reputedly contained inaccurate address information of the sender.

Such practices, which spammers commonly use to hide their tracks, were banned under the antispam law that went into effect Jan. 1. The law sets guidelines on how and to whom spam can be sent.

BlueStream Media, an online marketing company based in Sacramento, Calif., denied the charges.

“I can tell you we’re in full compliance of the law,” said BlueStream spokesman Chris Bryan. “We’re not a fly-by-night company trying to do anything illegal here.”

Officials at and BVWebTies, both based in Boston, were not available for immediate comment late Thursday.

Some industry analysts contend the law has been ineffective and may even increase the amount of “legal spam” as spammers have found ways to circumvent it. Spam sent to Hypertouch’s customers jumped by 40 percent in the past two months, said John Fallat, the company’s attorney.

The lawsuit seeks a court order for compliance and unspecified monetary damages.

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