AUSWR
The Association of U S West Retirees
 

 

 

Qwest's spam policy sparks uproar
A service contract says Qwest will charge $5 for every spam message sent by a user. Qwest says it's misinformation.
By Beth Potter, Staff Writer
Denver Post
Tuesday, January 10, 2006


A discussion on a website sparked a public-relations brushfire for Qwest on Monday over the contract its high-speed Internet customers must agree to.

The website, ARS Technica, which bills itself as "The PC enthusiast's resource," did an analysis of the fine print in Qwest's new terms of its service agreement for high-speed DSL.

One paragraph in the agreement that threatens to charge customers $5 for every spam message sent by their computer got a bunch of people hot under the collar.

"I wonder if Qwest will go after you if, say, your grandmother's PC gets infected and starts sending spam in the names of her grandchildren?" said a user identified as SanctusX2.

Website user Brian Bush said Qwest customers should "vote with the almighty (dollar) and get a different service."

But Qwest said misinformation is circulating in cyberspace.  The story was picked up by at least one other website, techworld.com.

Claire Mylott, a Qwest spokeswoman, said Qwest sent its customers a letter in December saying its DSL service would not be regulated anymore by tariff.  It then posted a new 14-page agreement on the Web outlining its service terms.

But the "acceptable use" policy on spam has existed for several years, Mylott said.

"The intent of the policy is to prevent the malicious use of our network," Mylott said.  "We do not impose fines or sanctions against our customers who may be victims of worms or viruses."

The policy, which covers Qwest's 1.3 million high-speed Internet customers, doesn't mention that computers affected by viruses can be exempted from fines. Right-click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of this picture from the Internet.
Right-click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of this picture from the Internet.
Acceptable-use policies are standard in the industry and used by phone, cable and Internet service providers to govern how people use their networks.

The online brouhaha comes at a time when traditional phone companies like Qwest are battling hard against cable companies and other Internet service providers to protect and grow their customer base.  High-speed Internet is a key product in the fight.

Qwest has caught spammers in the past and has "been aggressive in eliminating the problem," Mylott said.  "The policy is there to serve as a deterrent.  It's there to protect our users from unacceptable materials."

Bob Larribeau, an independent telecom analyst in San Francisco, said it's not good customer relations to "whack" someone because he or she inadvertently accessed a virus.

"But I think having an acceptable-use policy is appropriate," he said.  "You don't want spam;  you don't want people to propagate worms knowingly."

Staff writer Kimberly S. Johnson contributed to this report.

Staff writer Beth Potter can be reached at 303-820-1503 or bpotter@denverpost.com.


http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_3386427