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MAPS and Experian Settle Lawsuit 313

Posted by michael
from the one-big-happy-family dept.
dbrower writes: "Experian is trumpeting a settlement with MAPS here, where MAPS agreed not to blackhole them without a court order, and agreed that Experian didn't need to do opt-in. Looks like a loss to me."
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MAPS and Experian Settle Lawsuit

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  • by hillct (230132) on Wednesday October 03, 2001 @07:06PM (#2386136) Homepage Journal
    Let there be no question about it. This is a victory for spammers. I hope MAPS elects to keep a list of companies which they are unable to block through their service. Then I could grok the list and be happy once again.

    --CTH
  • by ewhac (5844) on Wednesday October 03, 2001 @07:11PM (#2386148) Homepage Journal

    ...And spamming is the worst type of pollution; they make you pay for the sludge with your connectivity, time, and frustration.

    It would be interesting to know why MAPS decided to cave in. Perhaps a Slashdot interview is in order?

    I'd like to see MAPS publish a list of IPs it's forbidden to add to its main blocklist, so that we could manually add them to our MAPS config.

    Schwab

    • It would be interesting to know why MAPS decided to cave in.
      <HUMOR>
      Maybe they didn't want their credit rating trashed? ;-)
      </HUMOR>

      HUMOR tags have been added for the humor impaired, in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
    • MAP's take on this is here [mail-abuse.org]
      EXACTIS SUIT AGAINST MAPS DISMISSED October 3, 2001 - REDWOOD CITY, CA - Mail Abuse Prevention System, LLC (MAPSSM) announced today that Experian Emarketing, Inc. (formerly Exactis.com) has dismissed all of the claims which it had previously filed against MAPSSM. "A settlement has been reached in which Experian has committed to requiring their clients to provide them with lists which contain only those email addresses for which they have obtained the addressee's permission to send them email", explained Anne P. Mitchell, Esq., MAPS'SM Director of Legal and Public Affairs. "They have further committed to address and resolve any complaints and concerns which may arise as a result of any mailings they do for either themselves or their clients."
    • Advertising may be pollution, but the greater evil is giving that kind of power to any single organization.

      Since so many companies voluntarily broke their own privacy agreements last week ; regardless of major media icons denouncing the American fight against Personal Freedoms - I think it's disgusting that normal people would volunteer their data be channelled through one organization ; no matter what that data is comprised of. Remember, the point of Encryption isn't to hide something illegal or immoral - it's to ensure privacy from corporate and Powerful-Organizations interests.

      Everyone arguing for personal freedoms through privacy quotes Hitler's choice to brand Jews with Stars, and everyone else says "that's too far fetched". How far fetched is the US Government performing keyword searches on all of your email? Now they actually admit to it.

      Eggplants! [eggforge.net]
  • winners or loosers? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Rev.LoveJoy (136856) on Wednesday October 03, 2001 @07:12PM (#2386156) Homepage Journal
    I have a hard time looking at MAPS vs. the spammers as us agsinst them anymore. For me this has turned into one of those moral dilemas wherein the actions taken by maps are nearly as deplorable as those they are attempting to defeat.

    Do not misunderstand, I am no sympathizer of the spammers. I do not think what they do warrants first ammendmend protection. However, I do not think that MAPS arbitrarily black holing companies who it cannot strong arm with threats really deserves our respect anymore.

    A good idea gone awry.

    Cheers,
    - RLJ

    • They don't arbitrarily blackhole any companies.

      They do keep a list of servers whose administrators that does not want to cooperate in the fight against spam for whatever reason.

      It is up to the mail server administrators to decide whether they want to accept mail from those servers. That is a perfectly fair and honorable thing to do.

      Why excatly do you think I should be denied the choice to refuse to accept mail from people who will not help fight the one thing that have made mail nearly useless to me?

      And why exactly do you think that giving me that choise is as morally questionable as trying to force me to accept and pay for junk I don't want?
      • by fizbin (2046)
        The main issue I have with MAPS is that they make no distinction between companies/sites that produce software used for mass-emailing (which could be spamming, but could also be used to send out messages to an opt-in list), companies/sites that sell lists of email addresses, and actual SPAM sources. Instead, they use a broad brush and declare "These are all spammers". If they offered different classifications (and it wouldn't be hard - different IP addresses for different categories of offense), and allowed individual server administrators to choose how large a brush they wanted to use against spam, then I'd have less of a problem with them tracking also companies that produce bulk email software, since those companies would be blocked only by the system administrators that explicitly wished those sources to be blocked.

        The whole MAPS vs ORBS thing has also made me conclude that both sides in that debate are not worthy of my support.
    • You could be missing the big picture. Every mail admin for a large site has to maintain some kind of blocklist to avoid being inundated with spam. Almost everyone complaining about such lists is already benefiting from them and doesn't realize it.

      MAPS is a step past these ad-hoc lists because it has some semblance of due process and some method for removal. MAPS understands that most domains harboring spammers don't realize what they're doing and will change their ways.

      Take away MAPS and the spamming domain or netblock will end up permanently blocked by thousands of large sites. And nobody has time to review these blocklists.
  • They said that they don't have to use a double opt-in. In other words, no confirmation step of the opt-in.
    • By calling that a "double opt-in," instead of what it is, opt-in with confirmation (i.e. making sure that the person doing the opting-in is in control of the email address so opted), you are linguistically playing right into the hands of the spam-meisters.
    • They said that they don't have to use a double opt-in. In other words, no confirmation step of the opt-in.

      So you think it's OK to allow me to go to their site and "opt-in" with your email address?

      That's what removing the confirmation step allows.

  • I don't get it! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kaz Kylheku (1484) on Wednesday October 03, 2001 @07:12PM (#2386158) Homepage
    MAPS only maintains a database that provides information to others, who seek that information.

    That database expresses an opinion: in the opinion of MAPS, the networks listed in the database are suspected of passing through or generating spam.

    Shouldn't this be protected by the First Amendment?
    • Re:I don't get it! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by btempleton (149110) on Wednesday October 03, 2001 @07:17PM (#2386183) Homepage
      Whether it's protected by the 1st amendment is an interesting question. Most probably yes, but not certainly. Clearly the court that issued the TRO didn't think so, since prior restraint on protected speech is supposed to be verboten.

      However, this is not actually relevant. They used the threat of the courts to make a settlement agreement, and settlement agreements are not affected by the first amendment.

      In theory, MAPS could have fought it, and probably (though not certainly) have won on 1st amendment grounds, after a few years and at great expense.

      They always said they were willing to test that out but clearly not that willing. They may be more keen to test it on an actual spammer rather than an operator of single opt-in mailing lists.

      How might the 1st amendment not protect them? I haven't read the TRO, which will have some reasons. However, they might rule that blacklisting isn't a protected activity, even though it involves speech. I wouldn't agree, but I could see courts ruling that way.
      • However, they might rule that blacklisting isn't a protected activity, even though it involves speech. I wouldn't agree, but I could see courts ruling that way.

        I seem to recall hearing that the courts have ruled that publishing a list of names and addresses of doctors who perform abortions, and crossing their names off when they get murdered, is protected speech.

        However, the MAPS RBL is machine-readable, not human-readable (AFAIK the RBL is not published in any human-readable form; it's only available in the form of replies to specific DNS queries, so you have to know what IP you're querying for).
        • AFAIK the RBL is not published in any human-readable form.

          Nope. You can get zone transfers, which can be made quite human-readable. Of course, this costs money (it takes a fair amount to bandwidth to do zone transfers), but it's still offered.

      • However, they might rule that blacklisting isn't a protected activity, even though it involves speech.

        But MAPS is not blacklisting anybody. Server administrators are, and I doubt anybody could sue over the right to communicate with your server. Just as I do not have to answer my phone, my server does not have to answer your request. Although I wouldn't be surprised if some asinine judge ruled otherwise.

        All MAPS does is provide a list of known spammers. This SHOULD be a protected activity. Unfortunately, the bottom feeding lawyers have blurred everything to the point that none of our rights are certain anymore.
    • Not if it's considered slanderous or libelous.

      "Here is a database of people who we think will spam you. We think spam is equivalent to theft."

      I think if you hired a good attorney you could come up with verbiage that would be legally defensible. Maybe something like "These are people who we believe will email you commercial message without your explicit permission."
    • Experian only maintains a database that provides information to others, who seek that information. That database expresses an opinion: in the opinion of Experian, the people listed in the database have good or bad credit.

      Shouldn't that be protected by the first amendment and they should be able to do anything they want with it, whether it's accurate or not?

      Or to put it another way, should I be able to put up a web site that is a "blacklist" of employees who are incompetent? What if someone put you on that list unfairly? That's called defamation.

      Free speech doesn't mean you're allowed to say anything you want, regardless of damage.

      • Re:I don't get it! (Score:3, Insightful)

        by btempleton (149110)
        If it's clearly an opinion, it is not defamation. If it could be viewed as a statement of fact, it can be defamation, unless of course, it's true. MAPS wordings have been more like factual statements -- these sites, they say, are known to send [some definition of] spam.

        They might have felt at risk for a defamation ruling. Experian's own databases are highly regulated, subject to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, so they won't feel a lot of 1st amendment sympathy. Even with the FCRA, they are often wrong and hurt people getting credit who can't afford to sue.

        I don't know the rules, but I could see trouble if you make a statement you claim is opinion, but everybody is treating it as a factual judgement. In this case, Experian claimed they have sent some 40 billion E-mails and MAPS admitted there were less than a dozen spam complaints. That's a lower ratio than just about any site out there, so this may have played a role, though if so, I don't know why they didn't settle earlier.

    • Re:I don't get it! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Velex (120469)
      MAPS only maintains a database that provides information to others, who seek that information. That database expresses an opinion: in the opinion of MAPS, the networks listed in the database are suspected of passing through or generating spam. Shouldn't this be protected by the First Amendment?

      The First Amendment is merely a bunch of words on a piece of paper. It can't protect anything. Instead, it is the people that protect their own liberties of free speech. What this decision means is that the people, unless they resist (which they won't), have allowed their government to become more of a corporate republic than a democratic republic.

      Welcome to the Corporate States of America, where the corporate right to censor out trumps the individual right to press. In the year C.E. 1791, the people believed that every person had the right to speak and publish his mind freely, so they drafted and ratified the Bill of Rights as their supreme law of the land. The times have changed however. To become a valuable player in the world of fast-paced business, like those corporate-sponsored business classes promise you will become, you must become submissive to the will of the corporation you subscribe to. The Bill of Rights is antiquated by this new workplace, where it is common for people to think of employment as selling themselves to someone they hate, doing something they don't like, for a cause they don't approve of. In the Corporate States of America, the people don't believe in the right of free expression, so it atrophies and disappears like an unexercised muscle.

      For Libertarians such as me, it is a very distressing thing to see such egalitarian fervor which was displayed at the outset of the United States of America wither into the Orwellian, business-driven culture expressed in that same country today. Unfortunatly, we Libertarians and egalitarian thinkers are a minority, and it seems as though, in the wake of September 11, our goals will be shattered by a powerful majority, whose corporations and sometimes families have been damaged by the unseen enemy. It seems futile to resist; sometimes I only wait until I am assymilated.

      But I know that I won't be. I believe steadfastly in egalitarian Libertarianism, which forbids this kind of bullying by corporations against disinterested parties. Simply because some advertiser can buy law-expert whores shouldn't give them the right to censor an organization that can't buy the same whores to do battle. Apparently it does, because the judge is incompetent. The judge was appointed by a president who was incompetent. The president was elected by a people who are incompetent.

      • Re:I don't get it! (Score:3, Insightful)

        by benedict (9959)
        Corporatism isn't Orwellian -- Orwell's dystopia was a socialist one. It's more like _Brave New World_ than like _1984_. So it's, uh, Huxleian.
    • Re:I don't get it! (Score:3, Informative)

      by pjrc (134994)
      MAPS only maintains a database that provides information to others, who seek that information.

      Vixie (who runs MAPS) is the CTO of a backbone internet provider (abovenet) which just happens to be one of those who "seek information". They have a regular history of blocking traffic... of course without explicit permission (and usually without even the knowledge) of downstream ISPs and their unsuspecting customers.

      This is quite a bit different than end users making an informed decision to subscribe to the "service". Likewise, some ISPs subscribe to MAPS on their user's behalf, sometimes without informing them, and other times while leading them to believe the service doesn't impact non-spam messages.

      That database expresses an opinion: in the opinion of MAPS, the networks listed in the database are suspected of passing through or generating spam.

      This is true. ...at least true if "passing through" includes lots of unsuspecting non-spam businesses and users who simply connect to those spamming-suspected networks.

      The lie is in much of the promotion regarding how accurate these opinions are, and the lack of disclosure regarding the non-spam users who are also intentionally blocked. It's quite questionable how well MAPS blocks spam [cnet.com]. At the same time, there is no question that MAPS has been responsible for disrupting non-spam communication time and time again.

      For a good taste of the deceptive nature of MAPS, check out their Realtime Blacklist Policy Page [mail-abuse.org]. They claim four there are four ways to become blacklisted:

      • Spam Origination
      • Spam Relaying
      • Spam Support Services
      • Netblock Inheritance
      The section about "netblock inheritance" claims that some unsecting users obtains IP address space that was once occupied by a spammer. Note that it doesn't say that they will discontinue listing the non-spammer who is blocked due to "netblock inheritance". But that's only scratching the surface of the deception.

      What that MAPS policy page doesn't clearly explain (or really explain at all) is their regular practice of listing large netblocks, which contain large numbers of non-spammers. It isn't explained that MAPS uses this strong-arm tactic to pressure ISPs that are hosting some spammers by blocking not only the spammer but all of the ISP's unsuspecting non-spam customers.

      MAPS's policy page also doesn't explain that there is no notification to these innocent and unsuspecting bystanders that their communication is being intentionally disrupted simply because some other customer at their ISP is sending spam.

      MAPS's policy page doens't state that they will refuse to stop discrupting messages to non-spammers when it is brought to their attention that a non-spammer has been affected by a netblock that also contains a spammer. (yes, believe it or not, Vixie/MAPS has a long history of refusing to un-block non-spam users when they complain that they are blocked) It certainly doesn't state that it is their intention to block messages to non-spammers and spammers alike, if they happen to be hosted at an ISP that (in MAPS's rather extreem and un-accountable opinions) isn't working hard enough to stop spam.

      Sure, MAPS is entitled to their opinions, and they have the free speech right to share those opinions. Where the line is crossed (IMHO) is:

      • Upstream providers, not end users, subscribing to the service... thereby forcing MAPS's rather extreem opinions on end users without giving them a choice.
      • Misrepresenting their blacklisting policy to imply that they only target spammers and those directly involved in spam... when in truth they intentionally target unsuspecting non-spammers (and never even notify them) simply because they inadvertently chose the same ISP as a spammer did (and the ISP didn't respond by immediately cutting service to an existing customer who MAPS says is a spammer)
      • Re:I don't get it! (Score:3, Informative)

        by pjrc (134994)
        And while I'm on my soapbox... take a look at this this MAPS press release [mail-abuse.org]. They write:

        ...the RBL, MAPS' database of IP addresses which have been proven to originate or facilitate the sending of unwanted email...

        Even without the words "have been proven", this is an bold faced LIE. MAPS has a regular practice of blocking large groups of IP numbers (often an entire ISP), with the intention of disruption to the spammer and many non-spammer customers at that same ISP.

        When these non-spammers complain to MAPS that their IP numbers, which certainly don't originate spam and don't facilitate the spammer's activity, have been blocked, the response from MAPS it that these non-spammer need to seek a different ISP.

        To even get close to the truth of how MAPS really operates, perhaps it should read:

        ...the RBL, MAPS' database of IP addresses which may be originating or facilitating unwanted email, or have some loose association with present or prior unwanted email, including unsuspecting users and businesses who happen to be customers at the same ISP as a suspected spammer.

        Of course, there's no requirement to tell the truth in a press release... but this lie is about as blantant as Microsoft's recent press releases claiming IIS is attacked because it's the market leader (when apache is the #1 web server by a considerable margin).

  • by btempleton (149110) on Wednesday October 03, 2001 @07:13PM (#2386160) Homepage
    Making this settlement goes against all their principles, so Experian must have made them afraid for their very existence with this.

    As noted, unless the agreement is very broad, they can certainly name on their web site the companies they have been compelled not to block, and people configuring their own mail filters could decide case by case whether to include them.

    However, if they made an automated list, effectively an alternate blacklist, I could see a court saying they were violating the spirit of the agreement, unless they wrote it carefully to allow them to do this.

    However, oddly enough, it could be to experian's detriment to have it happen manually. If site admins manually put in blocking for their domains, it will be almost impossible for them to get that blocking removed except over a very long period of time, since each admin would have to manually reconfig.

    Of course, they could change the IP address and domain they send mail from to get around that. Somebody (not MAPS) could provide a service that simply lists mail sending IP addresses used by experian, no other comment made.
    • hmn... what could a giant company with more money that God and more lawyers than Satan possibly do to scare anyone?

      Perhaps a nice, friendly reminder was sent that Experian could possibly sic an entire legal firm on *each* of the MAPS team members, attacking them personally with dozens of lawsuits that would bankrupt them immediately. Or perhaps another reminder that credit reports sometimes have errors that could cause your bank account and credit cards to all be cancelled, not to mention your house and car might be repossessed. Such errors are usually caught in fixed in only a couple of years.

      Then there's the small matter of the long cooperation between credit rating companies and various law enforcement agents. How far could that go... hmn.
    • MAPS has a press release about this as well, located here [mail-abuse.org]. It sounds like there was more going on than mentioned in Experian's press release. MAPS says there were months of negotiations, that both sides made comprimises, and that Experian has made "several changes to ensure that only those who want to receive their email receive it, and to respond to concerns from those who don't."

      While not getting everything it wanted, it seems MAPS did get something out of the deal, and Experian is playing at least a little bit nicer.
  • "In addition, neither Experian eMarketing nor its clients will be required to employ the practice of double opt-in (process by which a consumer must reaffirm their permission before they are added to an e-mail list) demanded by MAPS in November 2000." This is just amazing. They shut down napster while they still allow Experian to continue SPAMing. Is this really the internet we all want??? Will this be the kind of legislation we will be seing over the net??
  • access.db (Score:5, Informative)

    by jmd! (111669) <jmd@NOSPaM.pobox.com> on Wednesday October 03, 2001 @07:18PM (#2386185) Homepage
    Well, experian.com just made it in to my access.db, along with everyone else who's sued maps in the past. Do they have any mail servers outside that domain, anyone know?

    Here's a list of some other companies not understanding what MAPS is and trying to stop them with bogus lawsuits. I hope they don't accidently wind up in your access.db (or whatever your MTA uses).

    yesmail.com
    harrisinteractive.com
    blackice.com
    media3.com
    247media.com
    experian.com
    exactis.com
    liveprayer.com <--- accused MAPS of being an agent of Satan

    To block these in sendmail, use the 550 5.7.1 error code in your access.db file, like so:

    yesmail.com <tab> 550 5.7.1 Spammer suing MAPS.
  • History on this case (Score:3, Informative)

    by hillct (230132) on Wednesday October 03, 2001 @07:21PM (#2386202) Homepage Journal
    In the spirit of Karma Whoring :-)

    Here's some history on this case [dotcomeon.com]. It features articles from various stages in the case. Has anyone found the text of the complaint or injunction? still looking...

    --CTH
  • by Nindalf (526257) on Wednesday October 03, 2001 @07:23PM (#2386213)
    Experian is a company that sells crack by spamming millions of schoolchildren. MAPS [maps.org] (the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) has refused to provide their drug-friendly mailing lists because they insist that crack is not a psychedelic drug. However, Experian threatened to take them to court with the argument that if they can include marijuana under their umbrella, then the definition is broad enough to include crack.

    Wisely recognizing that both sides are better off not attracting the attention of the courts, MAPS has apparently backed down.

    A loss indeed. You can expect many of your peaceful local potheads to become violent criminal crackheads any day now.

    I hope this clears up any misconceptions you may have had from the shamefully vague top-level story. I'm a little fuzzy on some of the details myself, but as usual, trying a few likely domain names gave me access to the essentials.
  • "We are very pleased with the settlement agreement and believe it reflects the validation of Experian's e-mail marketing standards and that we remain at the forefront of consumer privacy and protection,'' said Tom Detmer president and general manager of Experian eMarketing Services. ``This settlement confirms that the privacy practices we have in place are responsible, accountable and in the best interests of the public and the marketplace. We will continue to offer the double opt-in solution for those clients who determine it is the right permissioning practice for their business."
    well, since we will only be seeing more cases like this in the future as these spam-whores use the courts as a shield to protect themselves from MAPS and other public-service mail filtering tools, what are we going to do from here?
    I for one would be quite interested in finding a listing of companies that have fought these charges in court and through miss-representing their datum and hiring bigger and better lawyer-weasels, have made themselves immune from public ban lists. Does anyone know of any existing services like this? I for one would be glad just to have a plain html listing of folks like Experian who have won in the courts to keep them selves off of RBLs and the like. I'd be even more keen on a nice XML page that I can parse with a quick script and have update my mail-server's ban lists. anyone want to make me a very happy admin? c'mon, please?
  • by gavcam (120595) on Wednesday October 03, 2001 @07:35PM (#2386257)
    If a spammer gets taken out of one filter list then you can always rely on it still being in the other lists.

    I use

    • relays.ordb.org
    • or.orbl.org
    • inputs.orbz.org
    • outputs.orbz.org
    • spews.relays.osirusoft.com
    to keep my inbox clean.

    Winning one battle doesn't win the war!

    • by VB (82433)

      (The parent has not been modded high enough yet as of this post)

      Regardless of the legal dispute, MAPS should have their implementation for filtering spammers removed from all MTAs. This is a frustrating problem, and is a major time-eater for diligent admins and an even bigger one for end-users on networks not overseen by such admins. Sendmail has removed MAPS support, reaffirming my commitment to stick with it since Sendmail's [sendmail.org] security record as been much improved over the past 3 years and it is great free software. A bitch to configure, but hey; when you run Slackware you know what you're getting into. I found it very alarming and frustrating when I decided to put a stop to what appears to be a significant increase in spam lately by finally getting around to implementing MAPS, only to discover the new fee-based implementation of MAPS. This pricing/policy change is completely antithetical to what anti-spam software should stand for! They started out as this "crusader" organization making software to rid the 'Net of the filth that proliferates as spam, then stick you with a fee? Quite unsamaritan and anti-community for a service that purports to assist the community, only to later suck you into payments once they've garnered enough of a following. Exploitative in the vilest sense.

      ORDB [ordb.org] is a godsend! I put this on my servers 2 days ago and spam has all but ceased. 10 trickled through the first day and were added to the list. ORDB's policy is effective, efficient and fair and it doesn't bog down the server or the network in any noticeable way. It's a quick 30 minute configure for a moderate sendmail admin, and yields immediate results. Granted it doesn't provide known spammer protections, but how can you do that?

      The onus on stopping spammers is on ISPs through their AUPs. Once they make it crystal clear that using their network services for stupid things like Spam, port scanning, and defacing web-pages is going to immediately ban them from that service, the Spam and other useless 'Net activities will stop and these idiots will quietly go back to the middle-high school where they once worked and pick up their green weenies, Mr. Clean, and get those toilets clean and those hallway tiles shiny again, where their skills/socialization are most appropriate.

      Clearly, we can't count on our Congress to improve the Spam sitation... [zdnet.com]
  • Reverend Keller of liveprayer.com is another enemy of our friends at MAPS. Apparently, you could sign anybody up to be on their e-mail list.

    Donation address of liveprayer.com:

    6660 46th AVE North
    St.Petersburg, Florida 33709

    For fun, read the letter [liveprayer.com] he posted to brag about suckering a young girl out of her babysitting money, and getting her to work her family and friends for him. THIS is social engineering.
  • by mj6798 (514047) on Wednesday October 03, 2001 @07:56PM (#2386330)
    Currently, to many lawyers and judges, MAPS probably looks like an obscure, deeply technical means by which some group of people is "preventing" another group of people from getting mail.

    But these people understand the concept of a "web page". If, instead, something like MAPS were based on a list of domain names found on web pages, I think people would have a much harder time "shutting it down". After all, it would be human readable speech, and if people mine that data for their E-mail programs, well, so be it.

  • MAPS' tactics appear no better than those sending the spam - All kinds of innocent sites have fallen off the internet for daring to be on the same IP block as somebody who sent spam.

    Requiring a double opt in for mailing lists isn't exactly spam related now is it ? the subscription policy for an email list should be a matter for it's owner not for some third party to decide.
  • by mtgstuber (457457) on Wednesday October 03, 2001 @08:07PM (#2386375)
    Don't get me wrong, I'm no fan of SPAM, but given that MAPS and services like it, automatically blackhole email from dynamically served DNS entries, I am quite happy to see them sued, sued into oblivion even. MAPS decreases freedom on the net. I have a DSL connection through a local carrier who shall remain nameless. I run a web server on my connection, largely for family and friends. If I get a business connection where I can get a properly registered DNS entry, I have to pay twice as much for half the bandwidth. So I use dynamic DNS services. Thanks to MAPS its about impossible for me to send email directly from my server. Instead I am forced to use the email account of my service provider. (Ironically, I can send email from SPAM ridden web mail services any time I want.) I resent MAPS's heavy handed self righteous policing of the net, even more than I resent the bandwidth wasting spammers. I would rather delete some extra #$%^ and have freedom, than have somebody tell me what I can and can't do.
    • MAPS is deliberately slow on the nominations, and rightfully so. However, some others are quick on the draw because of a clear and present danger.

      Besides, It's costing all of us to handle the spam. Dynamic DNS? Read: Dialup, someone's blocking on the DUL (and rightfully so). Smarthost instead.
    • MAPS decreases freedom on the net. [ ...] Thanks to MAPS its about impossible for me to send email directly from my server. Instead I am forced to use the email account of my service provider.
      No, MAPS is not decreasing freedom on the net. Your right to throw a punch ends where my nose begins. You still have the ablility to attempt an SMTP connection to anywhere you want, and people who run SMTP servers, such as myself, still have the right to ignore you. You have no "right" to force people to accept your email, I have every right to use my property as I see fit. MAPS has every right to say what they want, as long as it is not libelous or desturbing the piece or breaking some other serious law. You and I are free to choose to listen to them or not.

      Really, you aren't even seriously hampered by MAPS . You can still send email, all you have to do is use a machine with a fixed IP address and hasn't been involved in a lot of SPAM.

      What you are doing is missplacing your anger. You should be mad at your ISP for its silly restrictions and costs of providing you with a fixed IP address. You should not be mad at MAPS, nor the people who choose to use MAPS.

    • It is likely that you have not been blackholed by MAPS's RBL but by MAPS's DUL. The distinction is important.

      The RBL is for servers known to be relaying or originating spam and is generated by testing of the server in question.

      The DUL is for IP ranges that ISPs submit as "dial-up". This encourages their dynamic IP customers to utilise their SMTP server.

      For a better explanation of the difference compare these two descriptions RBL [mail-abuse.org] and DUL [mail-abuse.org].

      marty
  • Free speech? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hanzie (16075) on Wednesday October 03, 2001 @08:13PM (#2386387)
    How in hell can posting a list of spammers be illegal when posting a list of abortion doctors you want murdered [209.41.174.82] be protected speech? Families of future victims are listed by name too. And addresses.

    The crossed off names are people who have been murdered since the list went up. Greyed out means they were only wounded.

    • Re:Free speech? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by dmarcov (461598)
      Because "spam" is technically commerce. The standard of protection for commerical speech is much lower than that for political speech.

      Citations you might find helpful are Bigelow v. Virginia (1975) and the earlier Valentine v. Chrestonson (1942).

      Posting a list of "spammers" is an inducement against commerce -- the reason for posting the information is to reduce commerical traffic, etc.

    • Whoever hosts that site is a terrorist.

      [OT, but hit the link first...]

    • Is a nuremburg files for spammers. I bet that would be a popular site.

      Too bad the actual killing part is illegal.

      "The only reason some people are alive is because its illegal to kill them."

      (Heinlein? - sounds like a Lazarus Long witicism)

  • simple solution.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday October 03, 2001 @08:16PM (#2386394) Homepage
    A non US company to start making a blackhole list.

    If you were in a country that wasnt under direct US control you could basically have the entire staff moon a camera and respont to expierian's lawyers with the photo.

    anyone in the former USSR care to start a global business?
  • Article Summary. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by catsidhe (454589)
    From the article:

    Experian enables organizations to find the best prospects and make fast, informed decisions to improve and personalize relationships with their customers. It does this by combining
    sophisticated and intelligent decision-making software and systems with some of the world's most comprehensive databases of information on consumers, businesses, motor vehicles
    and property...

    Translation:
    • Experian knows who you are.
    • Experian knows where you are.
    • Experian knows what you buy.
    • Experian will sell this information to anyone who wants it.
    • Experian wants you to be bombarded^H^H^H^H^H^H exposed to those advertisements which will be most suitable - or failing that, all of them.

    and from the rest of the article:
    • Anyone who thinks they have a right to protect themselves from our 'services' is gravely mistaken.
    • Anyone who thinks they have a right to provide protection from our 'services' is gravely mistaken, and will be sued.
    • Resistance is futile.

    As far as I read this, it seems that Experian is saying that it is illegal to even provide the option of opting out.
  • Remember... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SiMac (409541)
    Some times blackholing can indeed be inappropriate. Above.net (which may be owned by MAPS, I don't remember and don't quote me on that) blackholed sites like macromedia.com and ORBS.
    • BGP4 blackholing (which MAPS half-condones) is stupid when its based on a spam list. Having a list for known abusive networks would be great, that is, they send large numbers of 'abusive' packets that aren't application or protocol specific. In that case, BGP4 blackhole them ... but if they just send spam, block their E-mail servers from sending you mail, don't block your users from downloading their software.
  • I do agree that EVERY mailing list MUST be double opt-in. To me this sounds like common sense, but I'm not a $grabbing bastard that will do any thing for an extra buck. The thing that really pisses me off is the fact that the companies can sell my address to hundreds of others without my consent. This is what I think happens all the time:
    1. Sone jerk signs me up for spam from company A
    2. I get spam from A with a 'remove' link in it
    3. I click 'remove' and no more crap from company A
    4. Company A sells my address to company B C D E F... and they probably earn more money from this than they would have earned from my buying something from THEM
    5. I now get 5x the spam F---!
    6. GOTO 2

    I think this reselling of names can be worse than no double opt-in. I know the big companies won't allow this (by buying politicians and lobbyists) on the grounds that thair ill-gotten lists are thair property and can do with it what they wish. I know it would be hard to keep a list of the companies that do this, but I think MAPS should consider upgrading thair service to include several lists that offer variable amounts of protection to ISP admins. Like one list with KNOWN spamers, one with ALLEGED smamers, one with PROVED non-spamers, and one that would be managed by users, kind of like how moderation and meta-moderation works here on /.
  • Middle ground. (Score:2, Insightful)

    Has anyone stopped to read MAPS' press release [mail-abuse.org]? Here's an clip:

    "Experian has committed to requiring their clients to provide them with lists which contain only those email addresses for which they have obtained the addressee's permission to send them email."

    It appears that MAPS hasn't comprimised its values, it's just made them a little more reasonable. So what's the big deal?

    Holy propaganda batman!
    -Geoff

  • No contact email address is given. Hmm. Maybe because they don't want to get signed up for all those single opt-in lists?

  • by Todd Knarr (15451) on Thursday October 04, 2001 @12:05AM (#2386995) Homepage

    One thought. Now that MAPS is charging for access to their service, can someone paying for their services consider there to be a contract between MAPS and them wherein MAPS agrees to provide a list of IP addresses that meet it's definition of 'spammer'? If so, and Company A goes to court and prevents MAPS from listing their IP addresses even though they meet MAPS' definition, can RBL subscribers sue Company A for damages due to Company A's interference in MAPS' performance of it's duties under it's contract with them?

  • Honestly (Score:2, Insightful)

    by macdaddy (38372)
    I can't see how this can be done. The way I see it, it's a violation of freedom of speech. If I say that I have a reason to not want to accept mail from spammer.com and I publicly state that, then that's my constitutional right. Really that's all they are doing. They are publicly saying that they won't accept mail from spammer.com or his netblock and they're making that known publicly. The method in which they let the public gain access to their list of people that thet won't accept email from is by DNS. If another said person of the public happens to decide that they trust my opinion on who I will not accept mail from and use my list of domains and netblocks as their own, then they are excercising their freedom to express themselves. I'm not forcing them to do it. They trust my opinion and that's that. To me it's really that simple. It's nothing more than a car magazine rating a given year's new models and expressing their opinions. If a writer for Car Magazine says that he personally doesn't like car A because it doesn't come in pink and I as a consumer have always based my purchasing decisions off of what that writer believes, then is he at fault just like MAPS? No, the writer isn't. He expressed his opinion and I decided to trust his opinion. If a buddy of mine tells me that he received spam from newspammer.com and I either a) trust what he told me or b) he proves to me that they spammed him (with the message and headers) than there's no reason why I can't trust his opinion and add newspammer.com to my list as well. If I decide to add a way for a spammer to have his domain removed from my personal list then there isn't any reason why I can't. If I say they first have to wear a baby blue tutu and cowboy boots and run through the streets of Dallas before I'll remove them, that's well within my right. After all the list is mine, not there's. I'm entitled to my opinion. Does anyone else see it as simply put as I do? To me it's just that simple.

    I'll tell you one more thing that's very simple. Experian has earned a very simple and very permanent REJECT entry in my Sendmail access lists. Simple.

  • by KMSelf (361) <karsten@linuxmafia.com> on Thursday October 04, 2001 @04:17AM (#2387459) Homepage

    Rick Moen has a standard message [crackmonkey.org] for those who would sue MAPS. You see, MAPS actually wins by losing.

    Time to update those DNS records and MTA rulesets, people.

    My own last message to Experian:

    Subject: Experian settles with MAPS -- Welcome to the Blackhole of Death

    You've been added manually.

    By me.

    By 100,000 other sysadmins.

    Or is it only 10,000?

    Or is it 1,000,000?

    Who knows?

    But you're in named.conf.

    You're in Sendmail, Exim, Qmail, Postfix, and Exchange reject rulesets.

    And you'll never get out.

    Ever.

    Because.

    You sued MAPS.

    You can't root us out.

    You can't make up, fly straight, and appeal your listing.

    You lost by winning.

    Welcome to the Black Hole of Death.

    Remember: no one can hear you.

    And no one cares.

"Irrationality is the square root of all evil" -- Douglas Hofstadter

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