updated 5/13/2005 8:36:40 PM ET 2005-05-14T00:36:40

The developer of a spam-fighting service is trying to airbrush the Web, asking some Web sites to remove references to criticisms that it sent out spam two years ago.

Brian Cartmell, chief executive of Spam Arrest LLC, said the posts in question reflect past practices, but people who read them today might mistakenly believe the policies are current.

"Sometimes people cancel their subscriptions because they believe it's some sort of ongoing practice," Cartmell said.

Spam Arrest takes a challenge-response approach to fighting spam. When people send e-mail to a Spam Arrest customer for the first time, they get a message asking them to prove they are human by clinking on a link. The original e-mail then goes through.

In early 2003, Spam Arrest sent unsolicited marketing pitches to some of the people who had e-mailed Spam Arrest customers, prompting complaints on several Web sites and e-mail discussion lists that have been archived.

Cartmell has asked three of those sites to remove the write-ups because they come up high in Google searches for the company.

The recipient of one such request, Carl Bussjaeger, responded by accusing Cartmell of "retroactively editing reality."

"They did something incredibly wrong," Bussjaeger said in an interview. "It's entirely fair for folks who are considering exposing themselves to Spam Arrest that they have a chance to know what Spam Arrest is capable of doing."

One site that complied is SamSpade.org. The site's administrator, Steve Atkins, said he was satisfied with recent changes to the company's privacy policy.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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