New.net and Cexx.org
In the spirit of full disclosure, and in case some other members of the
anti-*ware community may be interested, presented here is the full
record of communication between cexx.org and New.net's lawyer (ahem,
Business Affairs...but more on that in a bit).
- For MSWord/OO.o/PDF files, the internal filename is specified in
parentheses following the link. (Files have been given descriptive
names here on the Web server which avoid long names, spaces, etc, but
are not the original file name.)
- <<< Angle brackets >>> indicate the direction
of mail travel (e.g. those pointing this way <<< indicate
something we've received, and those pointing this way >>>
indicate something sent).
- "Out-Of-Band" denotes items on the side, not directly relating to the original subject matter.
- Email addresses have been removed from plaintext materials, in case a spambot should ever get here.
<<< March 16, 2004 / March 12, 2004
Original letter from New.net (Microsoft Word - Letter to WebbInternet re cexx website v3 _final clean_.doc)
(I have to wonder what was in the non-clean version... :-)
This letter contains some glaring errors and generally wierd
lawyer-isms that went unnoticed at first. Notably, the letter states
that cexx.org "accuses New.net of banning users from New.net’s
discussion forum and deleting their posts". In actuality, the original text simply states: "Sadly, the worst part is how their angry customers are treated when they find this out" [that
New.net names are not domain names, but subdomains]. The hyperlink
points to a discussion on New.net's server which, frankly, even we
can't tell the original context of, since (ironically enough) the
discussion has long since been deleted. Consequently, I must wonder how
they would suddenly jump to the "banning users and deleting posts" conclusion...(Oooops!)
It also asserts that New.net subdomains "are the property of the user
and cannot be taken [a]way". Besides the fact that we have at no time
made any statement regarding the ownership of New.net names...
according to WHOIS, the top-level domain name "new.net" (and thus all
subdomains) is owned by New.net, Incorporated, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403.
(These names are expected to remain in control of the purchaser as long
as New.net stays in business, but what happens if/when their assets are
Of considerable confusion/amusement is the following paragraph, reproduced in entirety for your viewing pleasure:
The New.net Software does not serve any type of advertisements to its end-users, whether through a pop-up browser, pop-under browser, or otherwise, other than advertisements served on or via our Quick! Search results pages. [Emphasis added]
Kind of reminds me of: "I'm not pregnant in any way, shape or
form...except for the baby that I am carrying." :-) So,
apparently the current version of the New.net software (6.50) is in
fact adware. It's a good thing they pointed this out for us; we were still thinking of "firstlook".
>>> March 22, 2004
Our response (Response to New.net demand letter.sxw)
>>> March 28, 2004
Submission of updated document and supporting materials. ('Supporting
materials' includes screenshots of the New.net software being run in
concert with a packet sniffer, showing the software displaying
'new.chat' in the browser while resolving 'new.chat.new.net', and the
New.net software displaying paid content
(advertising) when a URL is mistyped. It seems strange that the "popular
search categories" (Viagra, HGH, mortgage, credit...) are all the same words that keep showing up in my
email box unannounced.)
In the letter above, we noted that the materials would be posted on the
evening of April 2, giving time for them to read and respond. I said to myself, "just watch them stall on this
until late April 1, then come up with some late-breaking reason why we
shouldn't publish this".
<<< April 1, 2004 (8:30 PM)
Letter No. 2 to cexx v1.doc (Letter to Cexx.org (New.net/General))
Sure enough, seeming to do the bare minimum required to stall
publication (claiming again that the materials are in error, but won't
actaully say what the error(s) is/are)...it also (dis)claims that their
original letter was "certainly not intended as a threat" at 56k BPS (backpedals per second), and goes on
to chant "we're not spyware" for another paragraph, although we have at
no point accused them of being spyware (a fact we thought was made
clear in our original letter).
Note: Interestingly enough, although this letter is signed with the
same name as the first, the meta-information helpfully included by MS
Word indicates the author as Stephen Chuck (schuck at
garrett-tully.com) of Garrett & Tully,
a different California law firm. As far as I can tell, they don't
employ a Mark J. Sonnenklar. Also from the meta-infos:
S y s t e
m U s e r m a r k . s o n n e n k l a r
F o r m L e t t e r t o a n t i -
s p y w a r e c o m p a n i e s v 4
K a y T h a t c h e r ( k t h a t c h e r @ g a r r e t t - t u l l y . c o m )
That explains the "we're not spyware" bit, anyway. (Hmm.... Any of you recognize it? ;-)
<<< April 02, 2004
(Out-of-band) Fwd: Newnet
New.net's lawyer forwards us customer mail
(Out-of-band) Request for removal of contact information from published letter
>>> April 03, 2004
Our response to Letter #2 (Response 2.sxw)
>>> April 04, 2004
(Out-of-band) Confirmation of contact information removed
On the public web site, New.net's letter is converted to a graphic so
that contact details could be blacked over. Our letter is converted to
HTML and references to such contacts are replaced with "******".
<<< April 07, 2004
(Out-of-band) Request for removal of first name and job title
This we have to wonder about (as expressed in the reply below). Perhaps
this guy is ashamed to be associated with New.net? Or maybe New.net
doesn't want it widely known that they've hired in a lawyer as their
Business Affairs department...
>>> April 11, 2004
(Out-of-band) Cexx.org response to addtional removal request
Although not stated above, the lawyer's first name/initial and job
title have also been blacked out on the public Web site, if for no
other reason than butt-covering. Indeed, no reference to this person
(or even department) turns up on the New.net site or any other source
of public record. The only reference to a "Mark J. Sonnenklar" (full
name) seems to be this one.
Can't guarantee that it's the same guy, but the location, line of work,
and even format of the e-mail address seem to match up. Unfortunately,
the Corporate Counsel homepage (aside from being something I'd be embarrassed to tell my friends about) doesn't have any information.
Awaiting a response to our letter dated April 3, 2004
Hello, hello....is this thing on?
Today is the 9th of May, and we have still heard not a peep. They in
all likelihood have found someone else to pester for a while. Either
that, or they are at work digging deep into our pasts for something to
bust us on. (Good luck)
One of the anti-spyware vendors pretty much foretold this right after
our previous post on this matter to the list. You were 103% spot-on.
End of Info
If you've read all of that, congratulations, you have the endurance
of... well, something with a lot of endurance. As a bit of closing
advice, Cexx.org would like to stress the importance of having a backup system in place