Anti-spam organisation MAPS (mail abuse prevention system) is to start charging a subscription fee to its blacklist, according to a notice posted on its Web site. The new system will take effect from the end of this month.
Presumably, since the demise of arch-rival ORBS earlier this year, the organisation feels it can impose monopolistic control over the anti-spam market.
Both MAPS and ORBS produce a list of servers on the Internet that contain an open relay. Such open relays allow would-be spammers to send out hundreds of thousands unsolicited emails. ISPs use the updated blacklists to block such servers, thereby reducing their customers' exposure to unwanted emails.
However, after a judge forced ORBS owner Alan Brown to remove his service from the Internet following a court case with rival ISPs (Brown also ran an ISP), MAPS has been without a rival. There have been three attempts to resurrect ORBS (as far as we know anyway) but none of them have reached their predecessor's popularity.
We have also had unconfirmed reports that some servers are being wrongly blacklisted on one of the new ORBS incarnations.
MAPS has clearly seen its opportunity and hopes that the removal of a main rival will enable it to make some money out of what is an extremely useful resource but has until now come free. It will also hope to control the market before any new rivals gather momentum.
And it has every chance of succeeding. We have been unable so far to find out how much MAPS is planning to charge, but if it strikes the right level, it would be well within ISPs interests to sign up. ®
MAPS (we've had trouble getting on today)
MAPS under fire as Harris sues MS, AOL over spamblock
Anti-spammers turn guns on each other
ORBS now split into three
ORBS to be reborn? Not bloody likely, says Alan Brown
ORBS' death: Alan Brown replies
ORBS is dead. Again