In late 2004 Verizon got fed up with dealing with spam for its DSL customers, and implemented a massive blocklist, that seemed to block a ton of email from outside the country -- with no way to get around the list. People who used their Verizon email address to communicate with colleagues in Europe, for example, suddenly were unable to do so. It was surprising that an ISP as large as Verizon would go with such an unsophisticated anti-spam solution -- and not have any way around it (their official response when informed of complaints was that people should use make a phone call if it was really important, rather than relying on email). Enough people were annoyed that a law firm jumped on the opportunity and put together a class action suit. The two sides have agreed to a basic settlement, so that Verizon DSL customers could be entitled to a one-time payout of $49 for the inconvenience. The lawyers, on the other hand, would walk away with $1.4 million. Seems like quite a windfall for the law firm, though this could make other ISPs a bit more careful in going overboard in their spam filtering. Brian McWilliams, who posted this news, thinks its unfair to blame the ISPs for simply trying to block spam -- but it's really a question of expectations. Most of all, people expect to be able to get their legitimate emails -- and being too aggressive on blocking, without a way to account for errors is clearly going beyond what most people's expectations are for the service. The fear is that this payout causes other ISPs to be too timid in fighting spam -- but, as long as they make sure there's a way around the filter, it seems like they should be fine.
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