Below is the press release issued prior to AOL's change of heart...
HOUSTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 26, 1997--FlexNet, Inc., a small Houston-area Internet provider, is in a battle with the giant online service, America Online. Without notice, AOL blocked all FlexNet subscribers from the ability to send e-mail to any AOL subscriber. Ironically, the only reason that can be uncovered by FlexNet's management is that the person that caused the problem used what appeared to be an AOL account to relay a large amount of unsolicited e-mail to AOL subscribers. The mail was relayed or "bounced" off of FlexNet's server to a list of AOL subscribers.
Mike Price, FlexNet's president stated, "Unsolicited e-mail, or 'SPAM' as it is called, is one of the biggest problems facing Internet providers today. A large percentage of unsolicited e-mail has originated from America Online accounts because of the ease in establishing an account free of charge. It is ironic that AOL would single us out given the fact that a considerable amount of our administrative and technical expense goes towards our dealing with AOL spam. We do not block their domain, because it would be unfair to our subscribers. It seems that their size and influence preclude them from extending the same courtesy."
FlexNet has made attempts to get AOL to cooperate in the matter, but all correspondence has gone ignored. "We are starting to wonder if there are motives other than spam that are behind these heavy handed tactics. I guess one easy way to squeeze out small or regional ISP's would be to block people's access to their services." Price said. Price is preparing a formal statement on FlexNet's web site at http://www.flex.net. The page will offer the ability for FlexNet subscribers to sign a "digital petition" asking that AOL Chief Executive Officer Steve Case personally ensure that the block is removed and FlexNet is compensated for the administrative and technical expense associated with AOL's actions. "We also will send out a request to all ISP's to determine how many others have been impacted by AOL's abuse of power. If there are others that have suffered in the same manner, we will share this information with our attorneys," Price said.
--30--SL/ho* CONTACT: FlexNet, Inc. Mike Price, 281/364-6500 email@example.com KEYWORD: TEXAS INDUSTRY KEYWORD: COMPUTERS/ELECTRONICS COMED INTERACTIVE/MULTIMEDIA/INTERNET URL: http://www.flex.net