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Spam Privacy The Internet

Spam Haters Given Right of Reply 278

Posted by Zonk
from the hitting-back dept.
rk_cr wrote to mention an Israeli technology firm which has set up a system to allow harried email users the right to reply in force. The system "batters spam websites with thousands of complaints. The plan is to fill order forms on spam websites offering pills, porn and penile health tonics with complaints about the products advertised for sale in junk messages. The plan has been criticised by other anti-spam workers who say it amounts to vigilantism."
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Spam Haters Given Right of Reply

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  • by Prophetic_Truth (822032) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @06:49AM (#13143180)
    so we spam the spammers sending spam...wait..what? This is some strange paradox that i can't understand at 7am EST..
    • Futurama (Score:5, Funny)

      by zaxios (776027) <zaxios@gmail.com> on Saturday July 23, 2005 @06:58AM (#13143202) Journal
      Leela: Hold it Santa! Consider this: you are programmed to destroy the naughty... I submit to you, that you are in fact naughty, and that, logically, you must destroy yourself.

      Santa: Nice try, but my head was built with paradox absorbing crumple zones.
    • Why not fight fire with fire? These scum have placed themselves outside of the "law" (such as it is when applied to the 'net), and so should not be protected by it. I say do whatever works. The sort of scum who send spam and run spamvertised sites care about nothing other than making money, no matter what the damage is. The only thing they will respond to is a force that affects their ability to make money. Forcing them to pay stratospheric bandwidth bills, or wade through tens of thousands of garbage "sale
      • by h4rm0ny (722443) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @07:43AM (#13143299) Journal

        Right now the Internet is an incivillised place, a sort of new colony, but settled by people who have the benefit of hindsight from the modern societies they have come from. I say let us fight it out for ourselves, establish our own rules, enforecements and bounds of behaviour, not have them imposed from the founding states (physical world).

        • Right now the Internet is an incivillised place

          Is that like being in famous?
      • We fight fire with fire , then what will most likely occur is that the definition of spam will broaden.
        Ok first comes chain e-mails , Fair enough . They are annoying.
        Then what , well newsletters people signed up for , perhaps they didn't know how to unsubscribe or maybe there is an error in the code.
        Then perhaps Notifications by your E-mail provider or ISP for which you can cease to get ,.
        The problem with vigilantism is never the first thing that is achieved by it , its the escalation .
        Enforcement of Good
      • "Why not fight fire with fire? These scum have placed themselves outside of the "law" " - FyRE666 "The sort of scum who send spam" - FyRE666 Technically, according to the CAN-SPAM Act, spamming is legal (though I cringe at the thought). A spammer is allowed to send you an unsolicited commercial email as long as he provides his return address and a way to opt out of the message. If you DDoS'd a spammer who followed these rules and he took you to court, he'd win. Please don't be mean to the law-abiding spamm
        • A spammer will never win in court for one reason: juries. Would any jury give a monetary reward to a spammer, even if legal technicalities required them to? The answer is no; juries have the power to evaluate the law as well as the facts of the case. If they find it "unconscionable" that a verdict be returned in favor of the plantiff (spammer), they won't do it, end of story.
      • by DrSkwid (118965)
        yay, lets all burn

      • While I agree with your point I must highlight the humungous differences between:

        1. trying to save your people from a nazi dictatorship that, if succesful, would rule over Europe with an iron fist and drown all opposition in blood

        2. attacking the first country that comes around, or where you happen to have funded wars for the last 10+ years for your interest, after a smallish attack on your country (sorry man, 6000 is nothing against even the small jew community of 6000000, let alone everybody else) witho
      • A bit off-topic but...

        Why not fight fire with fire?

        Because water, sand, co2 and such do a much better job at it usually?

        Even when using fire, you don't fight fire with fire, you restrict and thereby hopefully control a fire with fire, and then you hope you can fight it afterwards.

      • (1) Denial-of-service attack effects can reach far beyond the designated target. Other servers on the same ISP, or group of ISPs, can experience bad effects.

        (2) It makes a nice easy way to create a DDoS attack; simply spam away with your target's website and watch angry people blast it into shreds.
      • by v1 (525388) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @11:45AM (#13144132) Homepage Journal
        Spammers will continue their work as long as it is proffitable. Normally I'd als append "and legal", but it's been demonstrated ad nausium that the spammers really don't care about what's legal and what's not, so that's out. That leaves us with only two alternatives really - increase enforcement of the laws, (isn't that always a problem?) and make it not proffitable.

        The problem with the proffitability is that the average consumer IQ is 100, and that means 1/2 of them are below 100, so you're not dealing with the brightest collection of people in the world. There will always be a ready supply of suckers to reply to the spammers, so we can't stop it that way.

        If we can't stop their revenue, the only way to financially affect them is by costing them money. The most straightforward way to do this is by bandwidth charges and fake submissions. Is this vigilante action? You bet it is. But right now even though spam is hated by 95% of the world, there is no effective legal enforcement against it. (try to think of anything else that 95% of people in the world don't hate, that isn't illegal as a result?) The main reason this is the case is that there's so much money in spam - it's very proffitable if done correctly. As long as there is incentive in the form of lots of cash, the problem will never go away. It doesn't matter how many laws you make or any other actions you take - if it remains a very proffitable venture, people will continue to engage in it.

        The only thing that makes spam different is that ONE person can annoy the piss out of hundreds of thousands of people at a time, and as far as social injustice is concerned, that's very impressive. Someone with that level of morals doing that degree of harm to the general public deserves no protection from society or its justice, even if vigilante.

        Lets say I go driving around town spattering mud on people's houses. It's a nuisance, not really harmful per se, but I'm annoying the piss out of people. How long do you think I'd be allowed to continue to do that before the cops would come haul me away? Now imagine I was managing to do that TO AN ENTIRE CITY. There'd be an APB out on my carcass, you can be sure. The only reason spammers don't have this probelm is they can spatter mud on people's houses from another state or another country. For now this makes them safe. I look forward to the day this is no longer the case.
        • I agree... except I don't think replying en masse, or visiting the advertised web sites en masse and burning up their servers, is vigilatism.

          All these spammers are essentially sending out invitations to get more information. The fact they can only handle a 0.01% response rate isn't our problem. They send out a billion invitations and if a billion show up requesting info and they can't handle the load... too damn bad.
        • It doesn't have to be from another city. The ISP's are unwilling to act, lest they lose their common carrier status and lest they lose paying customers who pay them, individually, chunks of money for serious bandwidth, or lest they have to actually inconvenience their paying customers whose machines are being used as spam sites or spam relays. There are plenty of spammers in the same city, and even on the same ISP as the folks who try to get spam blocked, and being a customer doesn't necessarily help.

          The l
    • Many people sending one message to one people != Spam

      One person sending one(or more) messages to many people = Spam

      Where each of a large number of people do something which is individually a lawful action when carried out in isolation, but in aggregate becomes harmful to some person, it is hard to see how that makes the actions of each individual then become illegal(unless there is a law to the contrary). For it to be vigilantism(in the common English usage of the word), each individual would have to do a
      • I disagree. Frequently I recieve many spams from one person, they're otherwise called chain mails.

        Also, one person sending to many? Ever heard of mailing lists? There are some places, such as many organisations, where you *need* to email several people at once.
      • Spamhaus' definition of spam: (the rest of the definition is [here. [spamhaus.org]

        The word "Spam" as applied to Email means Unsolicited Bulk Email ("UBE").

        Unsolicited means that the Recipient has not granted verifiable permission for the message to be sent. Bulk means that the message is sent as part of a larger collection of messages, all having substantively identical content.
        A message is Spam only if it is both Unsolicited and Bulk.

        - Unsolicited Email is normal email
        (examples: first contact enquiries, job
    • so we spam the spammers sending spam...wait..what?

      Nope. Spamming is a large scale untargeted mailing, namely one person emailing lots of other people. The response however is not spam, as each person only sends one email in response. The fact that a large number of people send one email/complaint is irrelevent, each and every one of those was emailed by the spammer and is entitled to at least one reply.

      Imagine if this was 100% successful - spammers would get 100% response rate - how long would they en

  • Legality? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gunpowda (825571) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @06:50AM (#13143184)
    Would the users not then be liable for precisely the same kind of charges and punishment that the spammers are?
    • Re:Legality? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bobbis.u (703273) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @06:55AM (#13143199)
      They solicited the business by contacting you first, so there is clear cut difference.

      I'm not sure whether the law would reflect this, because as we all know, the law doesn't always reflect justice.

    • Re:Legality? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by kfg (145172)
      No, because the spammer has solicited. The repsonses are not spam, they are responses.

      KFG
    • Re:Legality? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 23, 2005 @07:35AM (#13143276)
      Parent's comment feeds nicely into the close of the article:

      But the scheme has been criticised by John Levine, a board member of the anti-spam Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial E-mail.

      "It's the worst kind of vigilante approach," Mr Levine told the AP news service. "Deliberate attacks against people's websites are illegal."


      Except there's several minor problems with this supposed illegality:

      (1) The spammer has sent you email inviting you to the spammer's website. Under the law, this explicit consent makes you an invitee, and not a trespasser.

      (2) The company is filling out a form provided by the spammer's website. Arguably, there is implicit consent for the user to fill out the form, and the fact that the response rate has jumped from 0.1% to, say, 10% may be unusual, but it is a foreseeable consequence of the spammer's campaign. If you are replying in exactly the manner intended by the recipient, it's hard to classify the response as a denial of service.

      (3) The spam complaints may not be legal in and of themselves, so if the company is smart, it will include an unreasonable counteroffer ("Dear sir, I would like to purchase your product, but I am only willing to pay $0.01 per item, including shipping and handling. You may accept this offer by shipping the product to [P.O. box that nothing is likely to ever appear in anyway owned by company]"), which in fact will be perfectly reasonable because the offer invites counteroffers, and the subjective intent of the person making the counteroffer is irrelevant to a legal analysis of the contract (note: I am not arguing that there is no risk whatsoever, courts are not stupid, but they tend to employ 'cruel' ways of being fair).

      (4) The spammers haven't exactly shown that they are willing to disclose their identities. At some point, the spammer has to sue someone. That subjects them to both subject matter and personal jurisdiction for various claims like private nuisancce, misrepresentation, breach of contract, etc. by anyone willing to cooperate with the company based on the admissions that the spammer will have to include in the complaint. Even if a spam association chooses to file suit, the ORIGINAL spammer will have to be identified in the record when whoever brings suit attempts to authenticate the evidence. Given the paltry number of pro-spammer lawsuits based on commercial rather than constitutional theories (where it's easier to hide the identity of the real party in interest), does anyone think that there's a substantial likelihood of civil complaint or criminal prosecution?
      • While I agree wholeheartedly with the respondent, is it not possible that the spammers may then change their tactics and set up click-throughs and hope for a backlash such as this? I know of people who have clickthroughs and go to sleep praying to God every night that they have something worthy of being slashdotted.

        In theory, this would give the spammer the ability to remain anonymous, and turn the justifiable anger at spam (which they cynically refer to as vigilanteism) into profit.

    • Not at all - Think of it this way. We are all just simply collectively changing our minds about spam.

      Now instead of deleting this kind of email, we are actually looking at and taking them up on thier offer for free porn, viagra and discount drugs.

      Its a simple business transaction - nothing more.

      If they fall victim to thier own success of marketing - how can that be our fault?
  • by intmainvoid (109559) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @06:52AM (#13143192)
    Sure this might annoy the spammers, but it's also going to cause problems for anyone unfortunate enough to be sharing a network/webhost/isp with a spammer. And what happens when someone sends spam appearing to be from a competitors site, in order for them to be attacked?
    • I don't think you have to worry about the latter. How many legitimate penis-pill and "get rich quick" websites are there anyways?

      Chances are if the website is trying to sell you herbal penis-happy-happy pills they too use spam at one point.

      Though I agree with your former comment. However, realize that you don't need excess bandwidth. The idea is to fill their databases with useless information to make it harder to find any [if at all] orders were made.

      Tom
      • " I don't think you have to worry about the latter. How many legitimate penis-pill and "get rich quick" websites are there anyways?"

        I don't know, but any that exist do have a right to exist. And there are plenty of legit companies that could be offering low mortgage rates or great deals on software which could easily be framed. All someone has to do fake a couple of emails and their website gets smashed.

        And some junk mail may simply be an honest mistake. I had a friend once who when he got mad at yo

      • I don't think you have to worry about the latter. How many legitimate penis-pill and "get rich quick" websites are there anyways?

        I'm not sure how this is relevant.

        Let's say I'm the owner of Whozenflotz, Inc (appologies if there really is a Whozenflotz, Inc) and I notice that ACME Corp's web presence is luring my potential customers away. So I hire a spam outfit to send hundreds of thousands of spams purporting to come from ACME with the expectation that this automated response system will knock ACME
    • by Detritus (11846) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @07:02AM (#13143209) Homepage
      If you sleep with dogs, you wake up with fleas.

      Nuke them all. If you do business with a spam-friendly ISP, you are partly responsible for the spam.

    • Agreed. The main problem with such automated vigilante DoS tools is that you can't control who they'll be targetted at. The spammers will just send a wave of pretty obvious spam linking to a few high profile sites like the FBI or the Whitehouse or Slashdot, and this service will promptly disappear like all the previous similar services.
    • Sure this might annoy the spammers, but it's also going to cause problems for anyone unfortunate enough to be sharing a network/webhost/isp with a spammer.

      Not so, this scheme is not intended to be a network DoS attack, but simply something to flood the spammers' inboxes with crap. Before spamfilters worked as well as they do today, you had to sort through tons of crap to find a few legitimate emails in your inbox. Now the spammers will have to burrow through ten of thousands of bogus orders and compla

    • Sure this might annoy the spammers, but it's also going to cause problems for anyone unfortunate enough to be sharing a network/webhost/isp with a spammer.

      What kind of problems? The same exact problems that spammers cause when they send gazillions of emails? If those ISP's aren't worried about that, I see no reason for them to worry about this. After all, this ISN'T one of those DOS attacks which cause a lot of traffic...
  • dupe (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 23, 2005 @06:54AM (#13143195)
  • by rock_climbing_guy (630276) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @07:02AM (#13143207) Journal
    I'm a spammer and I really don't appreciate this kind of vigilantism. Therefore, I'm going to have my army of spambots crapflood your website with GNAA/Trollkore posts. Have a nice day.
  • Wrong approach (Score:3, Interesting)

    by giorgiofr (887762) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @07:03AM (#13143211)
    FTA, I will quote a whiner: "Deliberate attacks against people's websites are illegal."
    WTF?! Are you an idiot or what? Since when, exactly, are there laws on the web?
    Before you reply with witty comments and dates, please understand I'm not saying that there should not be or that there are no written laws, I'm saying that (almost) nobody respects them. Go on, enforce laws on the web. Come back when you succeed.
    Given that it's impossible to regulate the web beyond the very basics like domain registration etc., people like the whiner above should just accept the fact that the lack of laws on the web make this a no-man's land, where criminals are free to do what they want (which they are doing) and those who object are free to take arms and destroy them (which they are not doing).
    So who gives a fuck when it's illegal - laws that are not enforced are simply not there. Now do you prefer sitting and whining and blaming it on the innocent ones or actually *doing* something to solve the problem?
    • This guy [pcworld.com] probably would disagree with your assessment that "it's impossible to regulate the web". Same with this guy [pcworld.com].

      Normally the problem is that its hard to track down the law breakers, but when you own a company who advertises a service that is illegal vigilantism.

  • by NeedleSurfer (768029) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @07:15AM (#13143234)
    The plan has been criticised by other anti-spam workers who say it amounts to vigilantism.

    Have you noticed that everytime a brilliant solution arise, a solution that seems just right and appropriate. A solution that would maybe not stop but at least truly hinder spam or virii and stuff like that, security firm says its a bad idea, its vigilantism and crap like that. Who cares if its vigilantism, it works and thats all that count. The fact of the matter is that none of these company want virii gone or spam dead, they want to sell you stuff that gives you the impression its doing something usefull about it. deleting spam, filtering it, scanning for virii and removing the well known ones, it just doesnt do crap about the problems... retaliating might, so facing a technique that could work the "spam fighters" dismisses it...
    • If you want all viruses gone, then you just need to destroy all the hosts. It hardly matters if that host is biological or computer.

      The problem with solutions that "just work" is they often don't solve anything, they just replace a problem with a new problem because they are not well thought out. That's where the catch phrase "just works" comes from, someone who didn't want to explain why, as the cure was worse than the disease.
    • Have you noticed that everytime a brilliant solution arise, a solution that seems just right and appropriate. A solution that would maybe not stop but at least truly hinder spam or virii and stuff like that, security firm says its a bad idea, its vigilantism and crap like that.

      This is hardly a brilliant solution. A spammer could send spam, that looks just like the spam of his competition, and he's got a free DDOS.

      Also, most spam sites are brand new hosting accounts set up on legitimate hosts with an a

  • Catch a clue (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DynaSoar (714234) * on Saturday July 23, 2005 @07:17AM (#13143236) Journal
    A vigilante is someone who usurps ot assumes power or authority from where it rightfully
    exists.

    Now, show me an elected or appointed spam cop that this is taking authority away from. There is none. Don't even bother to pretend ISPs fulfill this role. Their role is to keep customers. Some do better than othres at cleaning the trash, but none can act beyond their boundries.

    And speaking of boundries, that's where your anti-spam laws stop. And that's as it should be.

    This is the emergence of a regulatory force in the absence of any. That is not vigilantism. The net should police itself, including the dirty work. If it doesn't, someone will.
    • Re:Catch a clue (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Trailwalker (648636)

      A vigilante is someone who usurps ot assumes power or authority from where it rightfully exists.

      Other way around. Vigilantes arise when there is no authority, or when authority is corrupt and part of the problem.

      The ultimate responsibility for protection lies with the community. As circumstances warrant, they may establish a police force to do this, or if police are powerless, do whatever is necessary themselves.

      It is seemingly forgotten that governments, and the services they provide, are establish

    • Re:Catch a clue (Score:3, Informative)

      by Tim C (15259)
      No, it's anyone who dishes out justice or punishment without official power to do so. Just because there's no authority to combat spam doesn't mean that those who take it upon themselves to do so aren't vigilantes.

      This is the emergence of a regulatory force in the absence of any. That is not vigilantism.

      Actually, that's precisely what it is, until and unless such force becomes official, either by sanction from an appropriate body, or by default.
      • ... nor does that make it intrinsically wrong. What we are talking about here is nothing less than people banding together in the name of mutual defense, because there is no effective "official" or governmental capability in place. Frankly it does not seem likely that there will ever be. What it comes down to is that if the Internet ever returns to being a relatively spam-free communications medium, it will be by technological means.

        I doubt there's really all that much concern for spammers being knocked
  • by tamnir (230394) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @07:17AM (#13143237)
    Your post advocates a

    (x) technical ( ) legislative ( ) market-based (x) vigilante

    approach to fighting spam. Your idea will not work. Here is why it won't work. (One or more of the following may apply to your particular idea, and it may have other flaws which used to vary from state to state before a bad federal law was passed.)

    ( ) Spammers can easily use it to harvest email addresses
    ( ) Mailing lists and other legitimate email uses would be affected
    ( ) No one will be able to find the guy or collect the money
    ( ) It is defenseless against brute force attacks
    ( ) It will stop spam for two weeks and then we'll be stuck with it
    ( ) Users of email will not put up with it
    ( ) Microsoft will not put up with it
    ( ) The police will not put up with it
    ( ) Requires too much cooperation from spammers
    (x) Requires immediate total cooperation from everybody at once
    ( ) Many email users cannot afford to lose business or alienate potential employers
    ( ) Spammers don't care about invalid addresses in their lists
    ( ) Anyone could anonymously destroy anyone else's career or business

    Specifically, your plan fails to account for

    (x) Laws expressly prohibiting it
    ( ) Lack of centrally controlling authority for email
    ( ) Open relays in foreign countries
    ( ) Ease of searching tiny alphanumeric address space of all email addresses
    ( ) Asshats
    ( ) Jurisdictional problems
    ( ) Unpopularity of weird new taxes
    ( ) Public reluctance to accept weird new forms of money
    ( ) Huge existing software investment in SMTP
    ( ) Susceptibility of protocols other than SMTP to attack
    ( ) Willingness of users to install OS patches received by email
    ( ) Armies of worm riddled broadband-connected Windows boxes
    (x) Eternal arms race involved in all filtering approaches
    (This time the spammers will be doing the filtering, and that will be quite easy [captcha.net] for them.)
    (x) Extreme profitability of spam
    ( ) Joe jobs and/or identity theft
    ( ) Technically illiterate politicians
    ( ) Extreme stupidity on the part of people who do business with spammers
    ( ) Dishonesty on the part of spammers themselves
    ( ) Bandwidth costs that are unaffected by client filtering
    ( ) Outlook

    and the following philosophical objections may also apply:

    ( ) Ideas similar to yours are easy to come up with, yet none have ever been shown practical
    ( ) Any scheme based on opt-out is unacceptable
    ( ) SMTP headers should not be the subject of legislation
    ( ) Blacklists suck
    ( ) Whitelists suck
    ( ) We should be able to talk about Viagra without being censored
    ( ) Countermeasures should not involve wire fraud or credit card fraud
    ( ) Countermeasures should not involve sabotage of public networks
    ( ) Countermeasures must work if phased in gradually
    ( ) Sending email should be free
    ( ) Why should we have to trust you and your servers?
    ( ) Incompatiblity with open source or open source licenses
    (x) Feel-good measures do nothing to solve the problem
    ( ) Temporary/one-time email addresses are cumbersome
    ( ) I don't want the government reading my email
    ( ) Killing them that way is not slow and painful enough

    Furthermore, this is what I think about you:

    (x) Sorry dude, but I don't think it would work.
    ( ) This is a stupid idea, and you're a stupid person for suggesting it.
    ( ) Nice try, assh0le! I'm going to find out where you live and burn your house down!
    • Also missing . . .

      (x) Anyone could anonymously destroy anyone else's career or business

      (x) Joe jobs and/or identity theft

      (x) Ideas similar to yours are easy to come up with, yet none have ever been shown practical
      (x) Countermeasures should not involve sabotage of public networks
    • Replies (Score:3, Informative)

      by rbarreira (836272)

      (x) Requires immediate total cooperation from everybody at once

      What? No it doesn't.

      (x) Laws expressly prohibiting it

      Couldn't it be called self-defense?

      (x) Eternal arms race involved in all filtering approaches
      (This time the spammers will be doing the filtering, and that will be quite easy for them.)

      Cool! Let THEM start sweating around trying to protect their sites for once. How cool is having a spammer deal with the same kind of shit that they spread around?

      (x) Extreme profit

      • This:

        That doesn't mean this can reduce their profits, which is always good.

        Should obviously have been written as:

        That doesn't mean this CAN'T reduce their profits, which is always good.
    • by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob@NospAm.hotmail.com> on Saturday July 23, 2005 @08:11AM (#13143365) Journal
      A couple of years ago I submitted a request to the Thunderbird team to include a button which would do exactly this. I still believe it's a good approach, although an Outlook plugin would probably be more effective.
      I'll try to address some of your objections, but I think you missed the main one;

      (*) Joe jobs and/or identity theft

      I've had to deal with dozens of Joe jobs every year, and I'll have to deal with dozens more every month for the forseeable future. It's already so bad, a few more won't make it significantly worse.

      (x) Requires immediate total cooperation from everybody at once

      No, even a few thousand false records in a spammers database would be enough to increase their costs. That's the goal here, and while more would be better (especially if the company which hired the spammer is paying per response), it's a step in the right direction.

      (x) Laws expressly prohibiting it

      None.

      (x) Eternal arms race involved in all filtering approaches (This time the spammers will be doing the filtering, and that will be quite easy for them.)

      It will reduce their profits. That's good.

      (x) Extreme profitability of spam

      This will reduce it.

      (x) Feel-good measures do nothing to solve the problem

      Doing nothing will achieve even less.

      (x) Sorry dude, but I don't think it would work.

      It doesn't have to, at least not by itself. Spammers are just another in a long line of parasites humanity has had to deal with over the years. We're winning more often against most of our parasites, but rarely do we ever eliminate them completely. Spammers are winning now, they're a plague on the internet. Getting them under control in the way we have lice or fleas under control is a process, not a once-off event. This will be one control out of many.
    • This "spam form" is both funny and informative, however I think someone could use it on almost any approach to spam fighting. ANY solution or attempt at a solution will have drawbacks. Having a local spam filter carries the disadvantage of possibly deleting legitimate mail, especially from mailing lists you may have subscribed to. If we want to get serious about fighting spam, at some point we (the internet community) will have to adopt the least-bad solution and go with it, despite the drawbacks. I'm think
  • by Arrogant-Bastard (141720) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @07:27AM (#13143257)

    Unbelievably stupid. Or, as Mitch Wagner observed:

    And even he doesn't cover all the problems; for example, as everyone with the slightest clue about spam has known for years, responding to the spammer in any way is absolutely idiotic.

    But since the people involved in this company have no anti-spam credentials, no track record of involvement, and no clue how their "counter-attacks" will be neatly retargeted (surely nobody is naive enough to believe that spammers will sit still for this?) I can't say I'm surprised. This is merely the latest bonehead idea in a long series (e.g. challenge-response, callbacks, SPF, etc.) of bonehead ideas put forth by people who have clearly failed to comprehend even the rudimentary aspects of the spam problem...or who have, but simply do not care about the conequences for everyone else as long as they can selfishly "solve" their part of the problem.

    I've already blacklisted the company behind this tripe and null-routed their address space. I recommend the same for everyone else. There's simply no place on the Internet for those who want to profit from our collective misery by making it worse.

  • by wljones (79862) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @07:35AM (#13143274)
    This is an old pattern. The bad guys (Spammers this time) inflict themselves on the public. Authority is asked to help, but cannot or will not do so. Victims then search for their own solutions. Authorities see their monopoly threatened and cry,"Vigilantes!" The authorities, whether government or private concerns, feel they have more to gain protecting their monopoly than by fighting the problem, and victims are an easier target than organized thugs. Notice that their protests against the victims do not offer a better solution, only name-calling and threats.
  • Same as the (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jurt1235 (834677) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @07:41AM (#13143294) Homepage
    1. DOS on spammers proposal: http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/07/18/121 4226&tid=111&tid=1 [slashdot.org];
    2. The, I believe english, innitiative to reply on spam by going to the websites and not buy anything (1/3 of users responds on spam advertising: http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/03/23/238 205&tid=95&tid=111 [slashdot.org])

    Somehow I do not feel like going after these spammers at all, but more for just better working ISPs to disconnect bots of the net, and disconnect spammers of the net.
  • by hydrino (131216) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @07:46AM (#13143304)
    What an idea!
    Why OH WHY do people buy from them?
  • Fully justified (Score:5, Interesting)

    by VGR (467274) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @07:56AM (#13143331)
    I have my doubts about whether this will actually work, but I'm not sure it matters.

    I just think getting thousands of complaints should be the natural result of pissing off thousands of people.

    The psychopathic behavior of a spammer wouldn't be tolerated for an instant if he were face-to-face with his victims. Try attending a ballet or opera, and yelling "I have cheese in my butt!" at top volume.

    Whether it works or not, what Blue Sec is doing should be an expected inconvenience of spamming. Even if it just causes spammers to set up their own filters, at least it will weed out some would-be casual spammers.
  • I don't know why we talk so much about vigilantism. Okay, it's "wrong" and all. But let's dismiss the discussion and look at it from another angle.

    These jackasses are making millions by pissing off hundreds of millions of people using means clearly designed to skirt protections from their crap. They are armed, in essence, with internet assault weapons. Why shouldn't we see if their defenses are as strong as their offense?
  • by PotatoHead (12771) * <doug.opengeek@org> on Saturday July 23, 2005 @08:40AM (#13143429) Homepage Journal
    How exactly is this different from a bunch of people just filling out bogus information?

    Answer: It isn't.

    If a significant percentage of us, just did this, the spammers would be hurt by rising costs and sharply reduced product value proposition. (leads)

    This company is just making that easier.

    No harm, no foul.

    Unless you are the spammer making money off of shared resources without giving anything back that is...

    I hope this works and it catches on. I would use this service in a minute.

    Want to cut down your junk mail? Spend a few days each month filling their postage paid envelopes with their competetors offers and other interesting bits you can stuff in there. For those little card things, fill 'em out with crap.

    People have done this for years and this spam service is no different than hiring somebody to send crap data for you.

  • I know a guy [thespamletters.com] who's been replying for years. And unlike this moronic idea, he's damn Funny.
  • by Caveman Og (653107) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @09:01AM (#13143484) Homepage Journal
    Sheesh! Slashdot has gotten really lame.

    "Other anti-spam workers" is none other than John Levine, Ph.D [johnlevine.com], co-author of the BEST SELLING INTERNET BOOK OF ALL TIME (I kid you not) "The Internet for Dummies" (Now in its ninth edition). Some of you cretins need to read it.

    In Commonwealth of Virginia v. Jeremy Jaynes [pcworld.com] Dr. Levine served as an expert witness for the prosecution. His testimony helped send Jaynes to prison for nine years.

    At the second annual Conference on Email and Spam [www.ceas.cc] Levine presented a technical paper on his experiences with greylisting [www.ceas.cc].

    Dr. Levine is the chair of the IRTF Anti-Spam Research Group [asrg.sp.am]. He's a founding member of the Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial Email [cauce.org]. He runs the Network Abuse Clearinghouse [abuse.net].

    "Other Anti-Spam Worker" indeed.

    Take a good look at Blue Security's product. I think you'll see that it's little more than an HTTP DDoS tool. BlueSecurity claims that it's okay to DDoS spammers, and that they make very sure that only spammers are DDoS'd (although their careful not to call what they do a DDoS).

    I'm given to understand that they moved their hosting to Israel when Verio terminated their service for violations of Verio's acceptable use policy. Verio doesn't allow folks to host denial of service tools on their network (nor will any normal ISP do so).

    Someone should ask BlueSecurity about their legal threats against Everyone's Internet for attempting to do the same.

    These are not nice people. The only difference between them and the normal crop of script-kiddie miscreants, is that they have found venture capital.
  • Is it me (Score:5, Insightful)

    by I_redwolf (51890) * on Saturday July 23, 2005 @09:14AM (#13143517) Homepage Journal
    Or whenever someone speaks about standing up for themselves or protecting ones self. It amounts to some form of vigilante act or "Oh GEEBUS!! No, thats not the way to handle it!!!" It's in line with modern day cops. Sure, we'll make an attempt to protect you but if someone robs you or tries to physically harm you. The best thing to do is just give them your money or try to run away; the last thing you should do is try and protect yourself.

    I'm sorry to all the SpamProtectors out there but you have been ineffective. You've done nothing to protect the people who need it. Your tools are always one step behind. Seemingly asking one to not retaliate should come from the lips of others. Not you, one with vested interest in Spam. If there is no more Spam, there is no more SpamProtector. You will be out of a job and thats what you should be striving for.

    Now, i'm not recommended vigilante acts meaning putting a hot orange in ones eye socket or random acts of grotesque violence. However, I see nothing wrong with complaining or disabling a Spam server to protect not only myself but others who aren't able to protect themselves from this problem.

    1. The government has continously failed us
    2. You the Spam Protector has failed us
    3. Everything to date has FAILED.

    You then turn around and ask the honest abiding citizens to continue to be run over the coals at the expense of SPAM?

    Not today or tomorrow, so you could kiss my ass. The way I see it, the more vigilantes the better. At the very least they have not failed us and have taken the fight right to the spammers doorstep.

    They seemingly understand that the only way to win a war, is to fight one. The spamprotectors seemingly remind me of the weapons dealers who play both sides. You're as bad as the spammers.

    So; Cheers! To all the vigilantes out there standing up for the little guy and even the not so little guy! You are welcome round these parts anyday.
  • Enact a law making harvesting of their organs legal? Spammer organs might taste like spam, but they're STILL organs!
  • Near enough a dupe of this article [slashdot.org], I think...
  • by canuck57 (662392) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @09:37AM (#13143622)

    The plan has been criticised by other anti-spam workers who say it amounts to vigilantism."

    Being passive about spam simply does not work. It allows the sending host to continue operation and upstream providers to simply ignore the abuse.

    Now if each person who got a spam were to send 30 times as much bytes every minute for 1/2 hour back to the source connection in which the spam arrived it would not take spammers very long before their connection was congested and the upstream provider would close them down.

    Having the upstream providers shut down bad systems for a week is not a new concept, just one that needs to be brought back. Call this a collective protest, a collective DoS of a spamer to get their attention.

  • If everybody in the spam-hater just responded to one spam a day, they'd be drowning in complaints.
  • I've always gone to the spammers sites, collected email addresses, and submitted them all to each other. I thought everyone did this already. ;)
  • No need to lower ourselves to their level. There is no magic bullet for removing all spam. We are winning the war, but it will take a little while.
    Filtration is getting better every day, and I'm sure that we'll start finding uses for it outside of removing spam from our inboxes. We're starting to drown in information and I'm sure that a set of mature filtration algos will come in very handy later down the road.
    Education is something we have to work on, but it's getting better. It seems like most people unde
  • and will report on journal anything of note.
    give their web site a C- for clarity - lots of confusing steps that are non sequential
    requires manual forward of spam - no one click button installed in email client
    requries install of thier software - not sure what it does
  • All this does is put them out of business. I want to kick them in the nuts too.
  • Hopefully this software will be very smart about where the spam really came from, and all the paths that the reply spams and any related undeliverable messages might take. I recall years ago an extremely upset exchange of IMs with someone who insisted I'd sent them junk mail (my address had been spoofed). With all the "Mail could not be delivered" messages I get already, hopefully this software doesn't, by some means or another, land more crap in MY email box.
  • Sure it is (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tom (822) on Saturday July 23, 2005 @02:34PM (#13144977) Homepage Journal
    It's the natural reaction. When the government or whoever else claims the monopoly on force can't defend the people anymore, they take up the weapons themselves.

    Governments the world over have made it very clear that they don't intend to pursue this problem seriously. We know who the spammers are, and yet they still run around free man. It doesn't get more clearer than that.
    • Re:Sure it is (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pe1chl (90186)
      Governments all over the world have more interest in multinational industry and commerce than in the wellbeing of individuals. Look how they keep a biased system like the patent system in place, while they do nothing about the spam problem.
  • I remember when.. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jcr (53032) <jcr.mac@com> on Saturday July 23, 2005 @03:30PM (#13145244) Journal
    Spammers used to include 800 numbers to place orders for the shit they were selling. I left a couple of truly offensive messages on their answering machines, and one of the assholes actually called me back to complain about it (on my modem line).

    Having a real, live spammer on the phone, was highly satisfying... I covered a lot of ground, from his anatomy to his parentage. ;)

    -jcr

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