Flutterby™! : Gilmore abets spammers

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Gilmore abets spammers

2001-03-16 16:42:37+00 by Dan Lyke 16 comments

Verio cuts off John Gilmore for having an open SMTP relay. John Gilmore is one of the cofounders of the Electronic Frontiers Foundation, and thus should definitely know better. I tend to take a fairly harsh line on the whole "public nuisance" thing, I think it'd be just fine if swimming pools didn't have to have fences, but an open relay is akin to walking around with a hand-grenade with the pin pulled out, and blaming the other shoppers when it gets dropped. Yes, we should be able to have open relays, but reality intrudes.

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:31:18+00 by: TC

Hmm I disagree. If he has a contract with them for bandwidth (a pipe) and no restrictions on what goes through that pipe then I don't think Verio can change the rules later. Yeah, having an open relay is terminaly STOOOOPID and basically he's buying bandwidth for spammers but I think he has the right to play with a hand-grenad in the privacy of his own home(server). After having lunch with one of my friends at Sendmail I realize that "what is spam" turns into a "what is art" argument very quickly. I don't like the Idea of an ISP censoring data. Thats my Philosophical point.

Point of reality, Verio will win any lawsuits because Gilmore signed a contract that states open relays are prohibited. Your done John, go home and move to another ISP

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:31:19+00 by: Dan Lyke

And I'll happily block anything I can from any bandwidth provider which won't do this to Gilmore. In fact, I've proposed that the proper solution to people with Gilmore's attitude is making them dig their own graves before kneecapping them and leaving them to die. Alas, local laws and TOS agreements usually don't allow for that.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:31:19+00 by: ziffle

Well Dan you are wrong. <g> Todd is right.

One mans spam is another mans dream.

Verio has the right to stop it, according to contract, but its not a moral issue.

My Commercial speech is not yours to legally stop, unless you own the pipe and you choose not to carry it.

Commercial speech is simply speech. Next, no religious speech. Then no anti government speech; then People Eating Tasty Animals will be banned. Ban one and ban them all, according to taste. naaw - spam is life.

I like billboards too.

Ziffle "In China in the year 2001, you must ask your employer for permission to change jobs or marry."

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:31:19+00 by: Dan Lyke

Except that in this case the commercial speech is asking my[Wiki] network to carry it. What spammers are doing is the analog of saying "Well, you've got a front door, so obviously that's an invitation for us to come track our muddy boots all over your carpet."

Unsolicited email is theft. Pure and simple. Just as telephone solicitation and unsolicited mail advertisement are theft. It's using my resources and my time on false pretexts.

Advertisements in media I choose to read: not theft. Billboards, modulo some nit-picking about how use of property affects property rights: ditto.

But spam is the same as the inner city kids at stoplights who throw dirt on your windshield and ask for payment to clean it off. "Hey, all you've gotta do is clean it off, we're just providing that service" is the exact same thing as "All you've gotta do is hit the 'delete' key." ie: Unmitigated bullshit.

If we had true enforcement of property rights then I'd be all behind Gilmore. I'd love to go back to the days when we could have open relays, it'd make my life way easier. But until we do, I've got to lock my car, and if I see someone handing out bricks to the undesirables in the parking lots I may not have legal recourse to stop him, but I'm sure as hell going to not sell him bricks, and I'll cheer anyone else who cuts him off too.

Go Verio.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:31:19+00 by: Dan Lyke

On the bright side, /. linked to two stories about the heartwarming tale of two San Diego spammers who face up to 9 years in prison for their actions, based on the fact that their use of an open relay crashed that computer, thus they can be prosecuted for a felony under the anti-cracking and computer resource theft laws.



Yay for the San Diego DA's office!

#Comment made: 2001-03-17 02:40:14+00 by: topspin [edit history]

I shouldn't link to scripts I can't understand, but....



I think these scripts let a verified user relay for 30 minutes if they first POP/logon/check email using their native account. I'm not sure about the security nor the implementation of this, but I know a local ISP (not highertech.net) uses something similar to allow relaying for verified users.

Maybe this makes sense to those of you who run mailservers? Maybe it would work for John Gilmore?

Disclaimer: I'm not a Linux guru, Perl Wizard, sysadmin, or anything of the kind. I'm clueless whether the above links are of any value. They look good to me. YMMV.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:31:20+00 by: ziffle

Lets see, I send you an email and in it I say 'buy my used car' its a good car.

Now is that spam? According to you, yes.

Sendmail can be setup to block outgoing mail unless the header shows a local customer - its easy - we do it.

This whole spam thing has become like the drug war. Wrong, not needed, and damaging to the constitution. (The Real Time Blackhole list works just fine - and its private.)

So when you applaud the arrest of imprisonment of others for spaming, remember, that could you be you[Wiki], for the next silly law they pass.

And now back to your regularly locally scheduled debauchery - if they don't arrest you...

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:31:20+00 by: Dan Lyke

Let's say you throw a paper flyer in my driveway saying "buy my car". Is that littering? I think so.

The fact that I have a driveway or front yard isn't invitation to throw crap in it, whether it's a hamburger wrapper or an advertisement.

The email address differs from my driveway how, exactly?

#Comment made: 2001-03-17 22:21:35+00 by: Dan Lyke [edit history]

Oh yeah, on the blocking outbound mail: Thanks for the pointers, Topspin, I knew such things were being done, I just didn't bother 'cause most of the machines I deal with have static IPs. But given the quality of PacBell's mail servers I might set that up for a few friends.

Ziffle: What happens when someone figures out that by simply using your address as the "From" they can use your mail servers as an open relay? It's happened before, a friend of mine got hit pretty hard when the complaints started coming in.

(Correction: I just checked, and Ziffle's primary email server doesn't work the way that I interpreted his message as saying it worked.)

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:31:20+00 by: TC

First of all. I honestly like to see this kind of intellegent friction of Flutterby. I think we have a few different issues in the mix here.

First I still feel censorship by cutting off bandwidth is just plain wrong. I do feel ISPs have the right determin the conditions of their contracts. The real world result of this is that spamers will have more limited choices of ISPs and probably pay more for bandwidth (as it should be)

Second spaming is usually wrong. I personally think junk mail, phone solicitations & spam email are personal assaults on my time(most valuable resource). I would like to see laws similar to the one for phone solicitation enacted where you can demand to be placed on a do not solicit list which if violated it a $1,500 fine! This works because money talks very loud (why the spammers do what they do in the first place). The reason this doesn't work very well is because it's bit of work to keep track of who you have notified. In email this would work rather well(just put everyone on the black hole list on notice)

synopsis: hate spamers but they are protected under the aegis of personal freedom (which is more important). seperate them enough to crush the spammers and leave personal freedom intact and I'm on board.

Oh BTW the simple answer to the open relay problem is just have a password challenge for acess.

#Comment made: 2001-03-18 06:03:30+00 by: topspin [edit history]

Dan, I looked up the sendmail tricks because Billy Holmes (nextlec) uses it. My nextlec account forwards mail if I POP first. It works, but is it secure? I dunno. Billy can fill in any details and geeky stuff.

As for spam, Ziffle, I agree that it's usually just an annoyance, but when someone takes down a business mailserver via spam relaying, there's lost revenue and a crime.

Home Depot sells sledgehammers and openly displays them. Because they have sledgehammers available, I can walk in with a watermelon under my arm, pick up a sledge, show off my comedic genius by smashing the watermelon I brought in, tell everyone present that I'm gonna be appearing at a local comedy club and then leave without incident because it's commercial speech. Uh... no... I created a mess and havoc in the store. That's illegal.

ISPs sell connectivity and email services and openly advertise that fact. A spammer can use that email service, send thousands of commercial emails bogging the bandwidth of the ISP or possibly crash the mailserver, then leave. Uh... no... an ISP's property is its ability to transmit mail and run efficiently. If you intentionally create havoc and make a mess of an ISP's mailserver, it's a crime.

In short, you can't walk thru and say "fire sale at Macy's" to each individual in a crowded theater any more than you can yell "fire" one time in the theater.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:31:20+00 by: Larry Burton

As I have aged I've learned to take these little upsetting things, like unsolicited commercial e-mail or telephone solicitation at dinner time, as opportunities to relieve some stress. Writing the rules or scripts to prevent bad email from ever appearing before my eyes has become as therapeutic as trying to have phone sex with the telephone solicitors. You've got to learn how to roll with this stuff.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:31:21+00 by: ziffle


  1. if the spammer is using my[Wiki] email server to send spam then, off with his head! So I agree with Dan here.
  2. If my server is not functioning as I indicated, please advise privately - I would like to fix it. We do use the RBL include so you must not be spammmer <g>
  3. Do you accept junk mail? Its the same.
  4. In an ideal world it would be all private, and you could create any rules you wanted. Come to think of it - the internet is[Wiki] run on private[Wiki] mail servers - so lets use the private solutions - and block those we dislike - using RBL or ORBS. And, any agreement we make with our customers is fine -- they can always leave.

So, lets summarize: Private propery rights: You have a right to restrict the use of your servers. But, a legal case for 'spamming' is repugnant - a simple trespassing action would do. But, where do you draw the line? Exwives? gays? christians? Maybe there sould be a registry and only mail from Objectivists is allowed?

In the end, find a private solution - the government is a wild animal that must be kept in its cage.

Ziffle No State shall convert a liberty into a privilege, license it, and charge a fee therefore. Murdock v. Pennsylvania, 319 US 105, US Supreme Court, 1943.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:31:21+00 by: Dan Lyke

  1. What I thought you meant was that if I forged a mail with one of your domains as a response then you'd let the mail get relayed. In fact you wouldn't relay anything from my IP, which is (in my humble opinion) proper behavior.
  2. I agree that it's the same, and since I pay for my garbage collection I feel that I should be able to sue marketers who use direct mail without my express consent for trespass as well.
  3. Exactly what Verio did. And one of the sticks hanging over Verio is that RBL does its black-holeing in class C blocks, so Verio would have about 250 other very pissed off customers if Gilmore got black holed. And, on the basis of Verio's action, I'm much more likely to choose them over, say, UUNet, which isn't nearly as prompt in its protection of my property rights.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:31:21+00 by: Dan Lyke

Aside: pretty cool how that automatic list detection and conversion bit of my formatter works, huh?

#Comment made: 2001-03-19 02:26:37+00 by: ziffle [edit history]

nice list detection - I should typ eso well.. <g>

I thought RBL uses domain names; and ORBS used ip addresses.. (RBL is run by an Objectivist..Paul Vixie -- he also wrote Bind so maybe there is a flag to set which would restrict all email on the net unless its from an Objectivist... HAHAHA)

Uunet and Popsite are now blocking all[Wiki] email that does not go through their servers so we have our customers use a special port for email - works perfectly!

There was a Seinfeld where Kramer told the post office to stop all[Wiki] his mail. They asked when he would like it to start and said 'never' they responded with 'you cant do that'...

He told them all I get are bills and junk mail. 'I pay through the internet or thereabouts and mail is a hassle.' Finally the head of the post office came to see him - and told him that if this gets out it could be a 'disaster'. Very interesting. Maybe you could be the first, Dan... you would go down in history..

Speaking of Private property rights, BTW, I have the only 'Carnivore Free' graphic on the internet - the law says you must not tell your customers if they force the ISP to use it - so if you ever see it gone - I won't be saying why -- <g> but you will know http://signaldata.com