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IS COMCAST BLOCKING CONSERVATIVE E-MAILS?


 

Posted 1:00 AM Eastern

by Jim Kouri
November 22, 2006
© 2006 NewsWithViews.com

If your e-mail service provider is blocking your conservative newsletters, you may not be alone. Under the guise of protecting customers from "spam," Internet services may be blocking important and wanted e-mails from customers without their knowledge.

NewsWithViews.com columnist Deanna Spingola discovered that her own Internet service, Comcast, arbitrarily blocks her newsletters and alerts from NewsWithViews.com. "I haven't received an e-mail alert from NWV since February 2005 and my efforts to correct the situation with Comcast failed," she said.

Then Ms. Spingola decided to enter the corporate maze of confusion and double-talk: she telephoned Comcast. As is typical with mega-corporations, she found herself getting the run-around by the ISP customer service people.

"I talked to two people at Comcast who denied that their company blocks anyone's e-mail. They weren't very pleasant or helpful, either. When I wasn't satisfied with their answers, I asked to speak with a supervisor," she said.

At first the supervisor denied Comcast blocks e-mail. It was during her discussion with the Comcast supervisor that he finally admitted they do block e-mail they consider spam and unwelcome by the recipients.

"I don't understand these people. I get spam about drugs, sexual enhancements, real estate, lottery scams, and e-mails purporting to be from EBay, PayPal and various national banks asking for private financial information but Comcast blocks my NewsWithViews.com alerts and e-mails from like-minded associates? It doesn't make sense." said Spingola.

Users of AOL e-mail have it a little better. AOL has a "spam folder" in which customers may check what e-mails are blocked. A random check of the spam folder revealed that e-mail advertising how to enlarge a male organ or make the reader rich get through to an AOL customer's mailbox, but e-mail from legitimate websites where visitors sign-up for e-mail alerts and newsletters were discovered to have been blocked and placed in the spam folder.

For example, e-mail from ConservativeHq.Com were found in the spam folder as were e-mail from Townhall.com, another conservative opinion website. But e-mail from a company, Partnersnet.com, advertising stock tips got through to the AOL user mailboxes.

According to Deanna Spingola, the Comcast supervisor said that his company makes the decision whether or not to treat e-mail as spam. When Ms. Spingola questioned this "policy" and asked how to bypass it, she was told to send them a list of e-mail addresses she wishes to be sent unblocked.

"This is ridiculous! How am I supposed to send you a list of approved e-mails? My address book contains the addresses of people you are currently blocking. And I receive lots of e-mail from various people. You are arbitrarily censoring people who might be writing me for the first time."

Blogger Harold Davis (braintique.com) has also encountered problems with Comcast's spam policy:

"The first sign of trouble was the report from a couple of friends and business associates that their email to me was bouncing with some kind of message from Comcast about spam.

"I pretty much assumed that the problem was with the senders, and that somehow they (or their ISPs) were associated with notorious spammers.

"Oh foolish pride! I should have realized that the problem was me (well, me and the whole spam e-mail situation). It was a dark and stormy night when our email stopped altogether. I don't mean that the quantity slowed down or that we lost connectivity. I mean that we stopped getting our e-mail.

"Our inboxes were empty. Comcast technical support said sure your email works, and sent me an email to prove it. IX Web hosting said sure your email forwarding works, and had me forward an email to a new address to prove it. I may not have been the brightest bulb on this issue, but it didn't take me too long to figure out that Comcast had blocked all e-mail from our domain as spam."

Comcast Corporation is based in Philadelphia and in addition to Internet services, it owns a cable television company and several sports channels including The Golf Channel and E! Entertainment. It is also the owner of sports franchises such as the Philadelphia Flyers hockey team and the Philadelphia 76ers basketball team.

Having made an unsuccessful US$51 billion bid for Disney in February 2004 it allied with Sony in a takeover of MGM.

NewsWithViews.com contacted Comcast spokesperson Melissa Volin who stated, "Comcast takes its responsibility to combat spam seriously. Comcast is aware that a careful balance is required to effectively reduce spam while also protecting Internet users' online experiences."

Ms. Volin claims that Comcast confirms that a senderís traffic originates from a reputable source; and determines if a senderís IP address has been identified as sending legitimate content or if it is known to distribute spam, and block accordingly. She told NewsWithViews.com that Comcast uses Brightmail to filter outbound spam using the latest tools and software.

"Because Comcast has been so successful in blocking spam at the server level, spammers are finding new ways to target our customers, often hiding behind mail hosting and mail forwarding companies," she stated.

Ms. Volin, who works in Comcast's communications department, said her company uses "applies a precise, scientific approach that examines a number of factors" to identify key indicators of spam and patterns that spammers typically use; and then blocks IP addressed classified as sending excessive amounts of spam.

Deanna Spingola said she "Googled" the words: Comcast, censor, e-mail and got 947,000 results.

"Obviously this is a major problem for this company. Perhaps if they get a few thousand calls on their 800 number, they might address the issue. Then again, they may just continue being our "protector" against anything their administrators find anti-government, anti-Bush, etc.," she said.

"The biggest problem, despite the number of Google results, is that most of their customers are not aware of this censorship. I think of myself as being pretty savvy but when I initially called Comcast six or seven months ago and was told that they didn't block emails, I acquiesced.

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"They blamed it on my e-mail program. However, even going to the Comcast site and logging in to access e-mail brought the same results. I didn't fight it and didn't demand a further explanation from a supervisor. Most customers either won't realize the censorship or will consider the situation beyond their control and just accept things as they are."

To lodge a complaint with Comcast call: 1-800-266-2278

© 2006 NewsWithViews.com - All Rights Reserved

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"I talked to two people at Comcast who denied that their company blocks anyone's e-mail. They weren't very pleasant or helpful, either. When I wasn't satisfied with their answers, I asked to speak with a supervisor,"