tries to sink spammers

An Ottawa businessman and domain-name overseer says freshly minted privacy technology will help his company’s clients outfox spammers.

Rob Hall, president of, a domain name registration authority, announced Tuesday the availability of a free privacy service for the firm’s estimated 100,000 clients. The idea is to reduce the amount of unsolicited marketing e-mail sent to their inboxes, said Hall.

When a company applies for a domain name, authorities such as are required – under contract terms with various Internet registries – to publish its contact information in what’s known as the “whois database”. Unscrupulous marketing firms regularly mine that database for e-mail addresses, to which they send unsolicited junk e-mail.

“Most of them do it. It’s an easy way to get addresses,” Hall said.

The exposure caused by the whois database has long been a problem, he added, but one that up to now Hall has had little control over. “More and more of our customers are asking if they can’t publish their e-mail addresses,” Hall said.

Not content to throw up his hands, he put’s development team to work earlier this year. The result is a patented technology that lets’s clients submit a temporary e-mail to the whois database, which they can change as often as every week. forwards mail delivered to the dummy account directly to the client’s e-mail address of choice.

Hall said individual spam messages aren’t problematic on their own. However, over time, dozens or even hundreds of such e-mails starts to take a toll. “Spam costs time and money in dealing with it,” Hall said, especially the increased pressure it puts on corporate bandwidth.

“Even worse is the employee’s time reading it,” he added.

There is also a cost to consumers who have to pay for the time it takes to download spam through their Internet service provider. In fact, the European Commission said in a report earlier this year that spam costs European Internet users about 10 billion Euros (US$8.57 billion) every year in money spent on Internet connectivity.

Hall said to his knowledge is the first registration authority in the world to attempt to block spam on behalf of its clients. in Ottawa is at

– With files from IDG News Service.