At the time the comments containing the excerpt below were posted to the Usenet newsgroup (aka: "NANAE"), alleged career spammer Brendan Battles had just been booted off of ISP XO's network and was complaining bitterly in NANAE about how blocklists, such as Steve Linford's SBL, were "terrorizing" ISPs into kicking spammers like him off their networks. I think one of Steve's responses particularly enlightening.

Free Clues: Who Runs The Blocklists?

(An excerpt from a Usenet news posting)
[You] spammers find it very difficult to comprehend how this works, although it's been explained to you many times. Even though you're kicked off ISP after ISP and you know very well that all ISP AUPs ban spamming, you still believe ISPs are on [your] side and that the spam war is Spammers+ISPs against the anti-spammers.

What you fail to comprehend is that most of the anti-spam services and organizations are run and funded by ISPs. For example, MAPS was created by two heads of Abovenet (MFNX). Spamhaus and the SBL is funded by a British ISP, UXN, of which I am the CEO. The SBL's DNS servers which enable SBL operations are provided for us free of charge by ISPs all over the world, from Germany's biggest ISP, to Holland's biggest, to Belgium's to South Africa's, etc. Same with WIREHUB and others such as ORDB, etc. What we are all doing is a giant effort _by_ and with the help of ISPs to get this spam problem down, a problem which is seriously effecting our mail services, causing grief to our customers and which is the cause of 50%+ of calls to our Tech Support Desks. Moreso, because we are ISP people, we know that spam can not possibly scale, if we just let you spammers rip all mailboxes on the planet would overflow every day (more like every hour).

You spammers think we threaten to "do things" to the ISPs hosting you, such as "hack" them to stop them getting mail out. In fact what we do is simply tell an ISP hosting you (knowingly) that they can continue to host you but we will withdraw their ability to send email to SBL users. The principle is that the Internet is a network of private networks, all of which are suffering from the snowballing spam problem and all of whom need to be part of the solution and not the problem.

You spammers think that DNSBLs such as the SBL are "illegal" and you can maybe stop us with lawyers. The fact is, with DNSBLs we have implemented effective measures to deter and prevent the improper use of unsolicited commercial electronic mail and we are doing what we can to help enforce those measures. To any spammer who tries to claim that doing so is in any way illegal or "thuggery" I say "show us the law that says so", and to any lawyer who may wonder if it's legal to prevent spam entering our private networks we very simply point to the many previous statements by Federal judges against spammers, as well as the US Congress statement on the issue in 1998:

October 2, 1998

"it is the responsibility of the private sector to adopt, implement, and enforce measures to deter and prevent the improper use of unsolicited commercial electronic mail."

Steve Linford
Mar. 18, 2003


At about the same time Steve posted that to the Usenet newsgroup, another DNS blacklist operator announced in another forum that a major "big iron" computer hardware and software manufacturer was donating to him a rather substantial server to support his effort.

One would think the message in all this would be rather clear.

As regards the right of individuals to block the receipt of unwanted communications, consider the following U.S. Supreme Court opinion on such matters:

"We therefore categorically reject the argument that a vendor has a right under the Constitution or otherwise to send unwanted material into the home of another. If this prohibition operates to impede the flow of even valid ideas, the answer is that no one has a right to press even 'good' ideas on an unwilling recipient. That we are often 'captives' outside the sanctuary of the home and subject to objectionable speech and other sound does not mean we must be captives everywhere. See Public Utilities Comm. of District of Columbia v. Pollak, 343 U.S. 451 (1952). The asserted right of a mailer, we repeat, stops at the outer boundary of every person's domain."
- ROWAN v. U. S. POST OFFICE DEPT. , 397 U.S. 728 (1970)

Page Created: 18 Mar., 2003 / Last updated: 29 Apr., 2003

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