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America Online Announces Breakthroughs in Fight against Spam
[December 27, 2004]

America Online Announces Breakthroughs in Fight against Spam

DULLES, Va. --(Business Wire)-- Dec. 27, 2004 -- America Online, Inc. -0- *T Junk Email on AOL Service Down by over 75% in 2004, According to Member Spam Reports Rise of Spam from the Internet Halted - and Reversed - on AOL for the First Time since 1999 *T

For many years, spam has been the proverbial, virtual 'lump of coal' in the year-end, holiday stockings of online consumers everywhere.

This year, America Online, Inc. brings a welcome and timely holiday gift to its worldwide membership: a banner-year in the fight against spam that has resulted in a more than 75% decline in junk email on the service in 2004, as defined by members' spam reports.

AOL today announced that it has successfully stemmed the huge tidal wave of spam - releasing numbers showing that the rise of Internet spam targeted to AOL has been halted and, in fact, reversed for the first time in more than five years.

SPAM DECLINE: According to AOL members, spam has been drastically reduced in the past 12 months by over 75%: in November 2003, AOL averaged almost 11 million spam reports every day directly from members; as of November 2004, that figure has declined to about 2.2 million spam reports daily from members. The member spam reports are almost entirely sent using the popular "Report Spam" button, helping AOL constantly update and fine-tune its antispam filters minute-by-minute.

SPAM FOLDER: AOL has also seen substantial declines in the amount of mail being diverted to AOL members' "Spam Folder". In November 2003, the amount of spam being diverted to this folder averaged about 100 million per day; that number, as of November 2004, has declined to 40 million spam emails per day in the AOL "Spam Folder" - a 60% reduction.

SPAM BLOCKED BY AOL: In addition, the average daily amount of internet spam emails that are blocked at the gateway by AOL antispam filters has declined sharply -- a 50% drop -- from a peak of about 2.4 billion in 2003, to an average daily volume of just 1.2 billion blocked spam emails in late 2004.

ATTEMPTED EMAILS FROM INTERNET: Finally, AOL noted that less attempts are being made to send email from the Internet to AOL members, with the daily average number of attempts dropping from 2.1 billion recipient messages in November 2003 to 1.6 billion recipient messages in November 2004. AOL believes this 22% drop in attempted emails to be almost entirely spam -- as many spammers "throw in the towel" on their efforts to get their junk e-mail past the advanced filters on AOL's Virginia-based email network.

AOL believes that the decline in spam (via member reports), the drastic reduction in spam showing up in AOL members' "Spam Folder", the sharp decline in the amount of daily spam emails blocked by AOL, and the corresponding decline in email attempts to AOL members is likely primarily due to improved technical antispam countermeasures by AOL's AntiSpam Operations and Postmaster teams, as well as stepped-up enforcement actions undertaken by government authorities and by AOL under tougher Federal and state antispam laws - such as the new Federal CAN-SPAM law, which went into effect in January 2004.

"There is simply much less spam to be served up as members gather for the holidays around the family computer and their email inbox," said Carl Hutzler, Director of Antispam Operations at AOL. "Spammers are known to our members as the 'Grinch' who stole their email inboxes. That's not going to happen this holiday season. Our members are telling us they are getting less spam than ever on AOL, and we're seeing a substantial drop in the number of spam messages reaching AOL members' spam folders. That means one thing: many spammers are raising the white flag of surrender for the first time since 1999."

Hutzler continued: "The bottom line based on this great news is, We're opening up a new, better chapter in the story about spam. The gap between the amount of good email AOL delivers, and the bad email members might get, has never been wider than it is today on AOL."

Though there have been, and continue to be, variations in the overall rate of spam, 2004 was the first year with a substantial and consistent - and likely sustainable - drop in spam on AOL since 1999. The Company noticed a temporary drop to the rate of spam in 2003, but this was short-lived; new records for spam blocking and email attempts were set shortly thereafter. AOL began tracking the spam phenomenon in 1996.

In 2004, AOL has continued its comprehensive antispam campaign on behalf of its members:

-- AOL has introduced more comprehensive and robust spam fighting tools as part of its newly released AOL 9.0 Security Edition software - as part of an ongoing commitment to providing members with greater online safety and security;

-- AOL has led efforts to fight email spoofing and scams by testing and deploying email certification and authentication technologies, like SPF (Sender Policy Form) and others;

-- AOL has filed numerous legal enforcement actions this year on its own, and as part of the Antispam Alliance of AOL, Microsoft, Yahoo! and Earthlink;

-- AOL has strongly advocated tough state antispam laws with criminal provisions, helping to get passage of new state spam laws in Maryland and Ohio;

-- AOL purchased Mailblocks, Inc. - whose industry-leading, award-winning 'challenge/response' technology and sleek, easy-to-use user interface for web email is being developed for deployment across the AOL network;

-- AOL gave away a spammers' Porsche Boxster sportscar - confiscated as part of a legal settlement - to a lucky member in a service-wide sweepstakes;

-- AOL collaborated closely with law enforcement in Virginia on the criminal prosecution of an out-of-state spammer, resulting in the first-ever jury recommendation of a nine-year jail sentence under Virginia's antispam statute; and,

-- AOL - through stepped-up antispam filtering on its mail servers - had already reported a decline of almost 30% in spam on the service (May 2004).

More information about the joint fight against spam and spammers by AOL and its members can be found at AOL Keyword: "Spam" or "Spamfighters".

About America Online, Inc.

America Online, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Time Warner Inc (NYSE:TWX). Based in Dulles, Virginia, America Online is the world's leader in interactive services, Web brands, Internet technologies and e-commerce services.

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