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Censorship Your Rights Online

Pot Calls Kettle Censor 206

Posted by jamie
from the pass-the-popcorn dept.
In the red corner, SafeSurf is the original wacky band of labelling nuts. If you've posted anything to the net without labelling it, they think you need to be sued good and hard, and if it was inappropriate for an 8-year-old you need to go to jail. In the blue corner, MAPS continues to unashamedly blacklist websites for just sharing a network with sites that "support" spam. The fun began when MAPS blacklisted SafeSurf, ensuring millions of TeleGlobe customers were silently kept off the SafeSurf site. The victim has posted a beautiful, pained whine about "stealth censorship" which includes some really awesome metaphors. It's an epic battle of ideologies. Who will win? I say... the audience.

Here's an actual quote from SafeSurf's legislative proposal, I just love this:

"Negligence [failure to label] in the absence of damages may be a civil violation of the rights of the receivers of that data, but it shall not be a criminal offense unless the data is deemed to be harmful to minors. ... Publishers may be sued in civil court by any parent who feels their children were harmed by the data negligently published. The parents shall be given presumption in all cases and do not have to prove that the content actually produced harm to their child..."

Note: since SafeSurf's press release, their site has been taken off the RBL. But for some reason TeleGlobe is still blocking them (click "trace", type "safesurf.com", and wait several minutes for the blocked pings to time out inside TeleGlobe's network). I thought this was supposed to be the realtime blackhole list. Anyway, TeleGlobe is the same ISP that promises it will not "review, censor, or edit the material that is accessible through Teleglobe's network," and adds:

Q. Does Teleglobe support blocking access to ISPs and their non-spamming customers as a method of curtailing spam?

A. No. Teleglobe believes that advocates seeking to punish unwitting collateral ISPs and users who may be tenuously linked to a spam source are acting against the best interests of the Internet community as a whole.

TeleGlobe is one of the few backbones or major ISPs that still uses the RBL to censor websites, since I think AboveNet quit doing it. Anyone know of any others?

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Pot Calls Kettle Censor

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    MAPS is voluntary, and if you don't like it, switch. If your ISP is screwing you over with it, switch! And if you're too stupid to know that you're being blocked, then you likely deserve to be, anyhow.

    As for the 'intended' consequences of MAPS -- I was one of the ones hoping that the 'unintended victims' would bring pressure to bear on the hosts to kick the spammers or the spammer software corporations off -- too bad none seem to be doing so. :(
    • Hey, buttfucker, try this hypothetical situation:

      Suppose there's only two or three ISPs where you live. Imagine if they all subscribe to MAPS. What's your fucking solution now?

      Move? Just pick up and leave? Suppose you've got a family, suppose you've got a good job that you'd be an idiot to leave? Suppose you're taking care of an elderly relative who's spent his or her entire life there? Suppose you just can't afford to leave?
      • Same thing you do when the isps in your area all charge too much for b/w: co-locate.

      • Suppose there's only two or three ISPs where you live. Imagine if they all subscribe to MAPS. What's your fucking solution now?

        Your solution is to DEAL with it. Email is not a freaking right - it is a privledge. SO you either ask your ISP to handle it in a different manner or just deal with it like other things in your life you can't control. Tired of paying $0.20 a KW for electricity? What are you gonna do then? Burn candles?

        The world is not custom made to your liking - you take the best compromise you can get. If no ISP fits your needs - you either move or accept it and move on. Don't try to shut down a service many of us LIKE just because you're in a crappy situation.

        • "Email is not a freaking right - it is a privledge. SO you either ask your ISP to handle it in a different manner or just deal with it like other things in your life you can't control."

          That's OK if you think that (I disagree) but I just want to be clear -- TeleGlobe is using MAPS to block websites, and in fact all internet traffic. Not just email.

          I probably should have made that more clear in the story itself, but anti-spammers keep assuring me that everybody already knows that MAPS blocks websites... apparently not...

          • Thanks for the update. I've never read that folks were using MAPs to block anythign but email. Blocking websites on MAPs is retarded. I still think MAPs is a good concept and my mailservers use it - for email. But beyond that..... I can't understand why an ISP would choose to block web sites based on it unless they are doing it to hurt MAPs with bad PR (don't blame us - blame MAPs)
          • Since when was Internet traffic a right, either?
        • Email is a privelige? what are you talking about?!

          Email is a service. In most cases, for most people, email is a part of the service you get when you contract with an ISP. The contract is, I give money, they give me internet access, a small bit of hosting, an email address and a mailbox on their server. As long as I fulfill my end of the contract (payment) they must fulfill theirs (service.)

          There is no other way to describe it, it's a business agreement. Any intrusion upon that agreement is a breach.
          • And from my business agreement (RR):
            (i) The Road Runner Parties make no warranties as to the performance, including, but not limited to, any warranty that any data, files or other communications by or to Subscriber will be transmitted in uncorrupted form or within a reasonable period of time, that the Road Runner Service will be uninterrupted or error free or as to the results that may be obtained from use of the Road Runner Service.

            In other words, if you don't get the mail, tough.


            • Did you read that when you signed up, or did you just dig it up now?

              Is everyone's written the same? Granted, if all you've got is one provider that it's reasonable to get service from (remote locations) then you're sort of screwed into either accepting the terms as presented or not buying the service...

              Do you remember the article on Salon a while back? where the author's boyfriend was accused by T-W of trafficking in copyrighted material, and they closed his account over a weekend, and wouldn't reactivate it, or reimburse for the outage?

              The only time I've ever had a complete service outage has been when someone digs without calling in first, and clips the wires underground. When this happens, and the outage is more than a day, I have been reimbursed.

              But my email and website has been blocked by MAPS- and refused by other ISPs. For no good reason, the site is about chemical and plastics for flexible packaging manufacture. It's near impossible to solve- MAPS says they're trying to tick people off into fixing the problems at the ISP they claim is responsible, the other ISPs shrug and say they're doing as they please-

              so much for the notion of a world wide communications system that routes around damage.
      • MAPS is the voice of the community speaking, as with one voice, and they are quoting Monty Python at that: "I DON'T LIKE SPAM!!!" You're free to find an ISP that doesn't use MAPS, and failing that, to start your OWN ISP that doesn't use MAPS. The rest of us, who don't like spam, will gladly blacklist you so we don't have to deal with your spam, and go on with our lives. Yes, MAPS is using pressure. Why is this a bad thing? Societies always do this to enforce behavioral norms. MAPS and its subscribers are exerting to try to enforce the behavioral norm, "do not spam". If you spam, this pressure will be brought to bear in an effort to dissuade you from doing so.

        This is democracy at work, like it or not.

        Suppose there's only two or three ISPs where you live. Imagine if they all subscribe to MAPS. What's your fucking solution now?

        Here's a hypothetical for YOU: Say I'm Jeffrey Dahmer. I like to kill people, drill holes in their heads so as to have sex with their corpses, and then eat their bodies. But for some strange reason, society is against this and exerts pressure upon me to try to prevent me from carrying out my desired course of action. They threaten imprisonment, disenfranchisement, and execution for the things I think are my right to do. So what's my solution?

        The only "solutions" are to go with society or against it. If you go against society like Dahmer did, you'll be sent to jail for life. If you go against society like spammers do, you'll be blackholed. You do not have a constitutional right to email.

        -Kasreyn

      • Suppose there's only two or three ISPs where you live. Imagine if they all subscribe to MAPS. What's your fucking solution now?


        Use an ISP that isn't where you live.


  • Here's an idea: instead of wasting their time whining about how awful MAPS is, why doesn't SafeSurf simply take their business elsewhere? Quit using TeleGlobe's service, tell them why you are leaving their service, and set up shop elsewhere. If using the RBL is so evil and dangerous, ISPs will quit using it when enough customers leave because of it.

    Finally, raise your hand if you've ever been in a life-threatening emergency and chose to dial-up and check a disaster relief site as opposed to getting somewhere safe and calling 911. SafeSurf's use of that analogy (Think of the children! Think of the children's lives!) to further their point is sickening.

    • "...why doesn't SafeSurf simply take their business elsewhere? Quit using TeleGlobe's service..."

      You missed the point. TeleGlobe is a backbone provider, they deliver the primary or in many cases the only internet access for millions of users (mostly in Europe I believe).

      SafeSurf has nothing to do with TeleGlobe, does not pay them, isn't a customer of theirs, they just have a website that TeleGlobe censors. There's no "business" to take elsewhere.

      • Thank you for the correction. I do stand by my second point, though.
      • Yes, their argument seems to be either that even though they're not a cutomer of Teleglobe that Teleglobe should have an obligation to deliver access to their material OR that MAPS should not be permitted to publish a list of sites that they consider to be connected with spamming.

        Assuming the facts presented above are true though, Teleglobs would appear to be culpable of claiming to follow a different policy to the one they have actually implemented. If so then their customers do have something legitimate to complain about. If the policy were clearly disclosed though there would be no issue, and I don't see how simply not transmitting someone else's message can be viewed as censorship.
        • If so then their customers do have something legitimate to complain about.

          Right! Their customers have something legitimate to complain about. Safesurf is not one of their customers.

          People who subcribe to an ISP certainly have a right to complain and take their business elsewhere if the ISP is not giving them full access to the Internet. But content providers do not have an automatic right to have their web content carried by all ISPs all over the world.

          It is really ironic (which I think was the point of the original post) that Safesurf, of all people, would seem to assert that it is!

      • SafeSurf needs to find an ISP that doesn't host spammers. That's the business that needs to be taken elsewhere. SafeSurf should complain to their ISP about the situation, instead of whining pathetically to the Internet at large. Basically, their ISP is being a bad netizen, and MAPS has called them on it. The actions of MAPS and by proxy TeleGlobe may be extreme, but once you look at the whole context, they make a lot more sense. Sucks for SafeSite that they need to move, but if their ISP is giving them a cheap rate by subsidizing it by hosting spammers, then well you get what you pay for.
    • SafeSurf does not use any of the services that they are complaining about. They don't use TeleGlobe. Other people use an ISP that connects via TeleGlobe, which blocks the site. SafeSurf has no say in the matter.
  • Contrived Example (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ffatTony (63354) on Saturday October 27, 2001 @03:06PM (#2487720)

    Imagine trying to connect to a crisis assistance site after a devastating earthquake, only to find its among a vast IP group being blocked by RBL

    Do people really use the internet for such a purpose? I would think a cellphone would be the best means to contact help after a major accident.

    • Keyword: IMAGINE ???

      I dunno, I'm just as puzzled as you are. Maybe they mean if the phone lines were out, and you had wireless connectivity?
    • I recall hearing about people using the internet to let family and friends know they where fine after one of the earthquakes in California because the phone systems(cell and wire) were overwhelmed.
  • Imagine trying to connect to a crisis assistance site after a devastating earthquake, only to find its(sic) among a vast IP group being blocked by RBL. People can die as the result of their blind imprecision. They MUST be regulated

    Imagine trying to connect to a crisis assistance site after a devastating earthquake, only to find it's down for routine maintenance. People can die as the result of their innocent actions. They MUST be regulated

    • Imagine trying to connect to a crisis assistance site after a devastating earthquake, only to find its(sic) among a vast IP group being blocked by RBL. People can die as the result of their blind imprecision. They MUST be regulated

      Imagine trying to connect to a crisis assistance site after a devastating earthquake, only to find it's down for routine maintenance. People can die as the result of their innocent actions. They MUST be regulated


      Imagine trying to connect to a crisis assistance site after a devastating earthquake, only to find it's being used by a gay, asian-Italian midget murderer with a surly additude and a switchbalde made out of uranium inload with gerbil bones who not only won't let you use the computer, but will also KILL you and your family! Can you imagine the lives that could be lost in such situations as this?!? SOMETHING MUST BE DONE!
  • At least .. (Score:3, Funny)

    by Eloquence (144160) on Saturday October 27, 2001 @03:08PM (#2487727) Homepage
    .. SafeSurf has changed their old SS-style logo [humanist.de], which was quite reminiscent of the nazi SS logo [adl.org]. Their new logo [safesurf.com], however, still looks pretty creepy.
  • Does this remind anyone else of the end of Jurassic Park (the first movie) when the tyrannasaur and the raptors go at it? Neither of these groups are my favorite so let 'em duke it out!
  • I thought MAPs was used to block spam via DNS queries to their blacklist. SafeSurf makes it sound like their web site is being blocked? It makes no sense! Or do they distribute their list of safe sites via email?

    I'm tired of everyone blasting the MAPs service and similar services. SPAM sucks - MAPs helps. Its not perfect. But I'm tired of all these people acting like email is a God given right - its not. If your ISP choses to utilize MAPS or any other blacklist that is THEIR right as the company providing you teh service. Should they notify you? Sure, but if not - too bad.

    The bottom line is MAPs is not frocing things down peoples throats. If your ISP choses to use it - well that may be a good thing or bad thing to you just like other stuff such as port blocking, etc. You take that into accont. Remember folks - internet service is provided to you by a provider that sets the rules - don't like it? Go elsewhere or if no alternative exists, deal with it.

    It seems more and more groups are trying to shut down MAPs - which personally would piss me off big time. Its a good service. Plus it allows me to utilize it in any manner I choose. I cna have sendmail block emails or use it to add headers, etc. But in teh end - its up to the ISP (I'm my own ISP for services - yay!) to determine how they will handle SPAM. procmail may work for you, but its not for everyone!

    As for SafeSurf - that legislation is hilarious. Rating every web page on teh Internet - as if. The scary part is knowing our esteemed leaders - they'll think its a great thing. If it got passed? Well, instead of spending the time rating all my pages I'd form a LLC for my web sites with no assets :) They want to sue? Fine - sue the shell and I'll start another one or move overseas (my servers anyway) :)

    • by jamie (78724) <jamie@slashdot.org> on Saturday October 27, 2001 @03:17PM (#2487762) Journal
      " I thought MAPs was used to block spam via DNS queries to their blacklist. SafeSurf makes it sound like their web site is being blocked? It makes no sense!"

      Nope, it doesn't make sense. There are a lot of readers who, like you, are confused about this whenever we post a MAPS story.

      MAPS's blacklist is ostensibly a list of IPs from which spam originates. But more and more, it is a list of websites and Class C's from which no spam comes, but which are either considered "spam-friendly" or are owned by companies which are considered "spam-friendly."

      These IPs are put on the list because MAPS knows that there are still ISPs like TeleGlobe which will censor whatever MAPS tells them to censor. TeleGlobe uses the RBL to block not just mail being sent on port 25, but all traffic. And TeleGlobe is a backbone so this has a huge effect. Essentially this means MAPS can point at any website they want and wipe it off the internet for millions of people. And the purpose of putting SafeSurf (and other websites) on the RBL was to get them censored so that MAPS could throw its weight around to further its goals.

      Sounds like you agree with those goals -- but I'm hoping, like me, you disagree with the means used to achieve them.

      "Remember folks - internet service is provided to you by a provider that sets the rules - don't like it? Go elsewhere or if no alternative exists, deal with it."

      Millions of people are having their internet access censored, by a backbone provider which promises that it does not censor. Many of them have no options for alternative providers, so their only recourse is, as you say, to "deal with it."

      • Don't attribute to malice what can be explained equally well by non-malicious intent. Consider the possibility that this isn't some sort of evil, "stealth" attempt at censoring Internet content, and that it just MIGHT be because safesurf.com is hosted by a spam-friendly ISP, or is hosted on the same IP address as a spammer. There are porn sites hosted on the same IP address used by www.safesurf.com, so clearly their ISP is pretty lax with respects to the types of sites it hosts.

        Even if the MAPS RBL listed a single IP address here, there would certainly be innocent victims that happen to share that IP address. This is impossible to avoid if an ISP chooses to go the cheapie IP-less route when hosting web sites.
      • by seebs (15766)
        Could you name this large block of IP space that is listed on MAPS, but which is not, in fact, hosting well-known spammers? I seem to have missed the actual facts substantiating your claims. Perhaps there aren't any?

        Go look at the documentation for a listing. It'll be there, and by the time netblocks are listed, it'll be pretty impressive.
      • by crucini (98210) on Saturday October 27, 2001 @06:44PM (#2488204)
        Your post presents an incomplete picture. The reason why spam-support IP addresses are listed is that spam is frequently sent either from throwaway accounts or via open relays. Thus, there is no originating IP to blacklist. But the spammers frequently depend on driving traffic to a web site. The most effective way to fight these spammers is to block access to their web sites. ISPs who deliberately harbor such web sites are outcasts. They are intentionally choosing to pollute the internet with unwanted garbage, with the consequence that other networks may refuse to carry their traffic. And when a spam ISP evades an IP address listing by moving the offending site to a different address, MAPS natually tends to list the whole block.

        I wish that in answering someone's request for factual information you would include the appropriate context. Seen in that context, MAPS's actions appear more reasonable.
      • by Todd Knarr (15451)

        Actually, Jaime, sites are put onto the RBL for three reasons:

        1. Spam originates from them and they have failed to do anything about it despite repeated complaints over the course of months.
        2. They host web sites belonging to proven spammers.
        3. They sell programs and materials whose only purpose is to enable spammers to spam.
        Those criteria are well-known by anyone who knows about MAPS at all. And yes, this blacklisting catches anyone associated with the spammers or the ISPs who support them in these ways. That's the point: to force those ISPs to choose between the spammers and the non-spammers. Complaints from the rest of us about the spammers don't have any effect because it doesn't hurt the ISP to ignore them. We aren't their customers, after all. It's only when their customers begin to complain and take their business elsewhere that the ISPs do anything.

        It's the Internet equivalent of going into a shoe shop and telling the owner "I don't like Nike's child-labor practices. So, not only am I not going to buy Nike shoes, I'm not going to do business with you, at all, as long as you continue to carry Nike shoes on your shelves. And neither is half the rest of the area.". If you just stopped buying Nike shoes but kept patronizing him, he'd have no reason to stop carrying Nikes. He still gets your money for other brands, plus money from people buying Nike. But when he's got to choose between carrying Nike and losing half his customers, it's a slightly different story. And that's what every single one of us who want our ISPs using the MAPS RBL are doing to the ISPs who continue to host spammers.

      • by Alsee (515537)
        Essentially this means MAPS can point at any website they want and wipe it off the internet for millions of people.
        While that may be the effect, that is not the fact. MAPS is not blocking anyone. All MAPS is doing is publishing information about spam. They are providing a service. How other people use that information is not MAPS's responsibility. More importantly, if MAPS misbehaves it will be ignored.

        And the purpose of putting SafeSurf (and other websites) on the RBL was to get them censored so that MAPS could throw its weight around to further its goals.
        In this case SafeSurf shared an exact IP address with a spammer. There was no way to to block just one. In most cases it is nessasary to list an entire block of addresses because of dynamic IP's and/or the ISP will allow spammers onto any of it's addresses. And MAPS will have no weight to throw around if it misbehaves.

        I'm hoping, like me, you disagree with the means used to achieve them.
        While the means may not be perfect, it's the best I know of. If you'd like to suggest an alternative I'm all ears. I only know of two other options. End user filtering or laws. End user filtering would consume almost as much time as the spam itself, and would be futile. Spammers would always work to get around filtering. Laws are futile because it would require a law in every nation, and spammers would break the laws anyway. The worst part of spam laws is that we do NOT want to encourage internet laws. Lawmakers have no clue, and have done too much damage already.

        We're better off letting the internet police itself.
        I hate to say it, but Just say NO to spam laws.
    • But I'm tired of all these people acting like email is a God given right - its not. If your ISP choses to utilize MAPS or any other blacklist that is THEIR right as the company providing you teh service. Should they notify you? Sure, but if not - too bad.

      Huh? They've agreed to provide me with a service, for a fee I'm paying. It's their duty to fulfill the contract. Companies have to obey the law, just like people do.

      • by baptiste (256004)
        Huh? They've agreed to provide me with a service, for a fee I'm paying. It's their duty to fulfill the contract. Companies have to obey the law, just like people do.

        Right and are you 100% sure that contract forbids them from doing this? Are you sure it doesn't have a clause stating they can do just about anything or that the contract terms can change at any time? Most do.

  • by Fastolfe (1470) on Saturday October 27, 2001 @03:15PM (#2487751)
    There's not much MAPS could have done to prevent this from happening, assuming an RBL listing was necessary. It looks like their ISP is using IP-less virtual hosting, relying upon the browser-provided Host: header to determine where the user is sent.

    $ host www.safesurf.com
    www.safesurf.com. is an alias for safesurf.com.
    safesurf.com. has address 63.107.146.25

    $ host 63.107.146.25
    25.146.107.63.in-addr.arpa. domain name pointer ustoyou.com.
    25.146.107.63.in-addr.arpa. domain name pointer safesurf.com.
    25.146.107.63.in-addr.arpa. domain name pointer us2you.com.


    WARNING: Browse the 'us2you.com' sites at your own risk. Porn pop-ups abound.

    Their analogy of MAPS blocking an entire telephone prefix isn't very sound. It's more like safesurf.com using a party line, and MAPS blocks access to their very specific phone number. It's not their fault you chose to get your site connectivity with a shared IP address.

    *shrug* I personally think this is pretty amusing. I would definitely be asking my provider for a new IP address, though, one that wasn't being used by the types of people the MAPS RBL targets.

    • Note that I am making an assumption here that it was (or could have been) their specific IP targeted by the RBL. It's equally possible, though, that the RBL included this ISP's entire subnet, if the ISP itself were targeted by the MAPS RBL. This has its own set of religious debates.

      In either case, I would be interested in knowing WHY my subnet was blacklisted. If my ISP is indeed involved in some shady, spam-friendly business practices, this kind of fall-out is hardly unexpected. I'd take my business elsewhere.
    • WARNING: Browse the 'us2you.com' sites at your own risk. Porn pop-ups abound.

      You mean ustoyou.com, us2you.com seems to be a domain registry service (they do have a cool mouse-over-controlled spinning cube, though it doesn't seem to have any real purpose other than being cool), and has some link to some interesting (at first glance) space/scifi sites.

      ustoyou.com is just porn pop-ups (including one really annoying one I had to Ctrl-Alt-Del to get rid of), there doesn't seem to be any actual content.

    • That was a fine conjecture. But in fact, the issue doesn't have anything to do with virtual hosting. It has to do with spammish sites in that netblock.

      Read this whole thread about the spammish sites at safesurf.com's ISP [google.com]

      Sig: What Happened To The Censorware Project (censorware.org) [sethf.com]

    • You gotta love a censorware company that shares its Web hosting with a porn purveyor.

      Simple solution is for safe surf to explain to their customers how they can access their site by going through one of the anonymous proxy servers...

    • There's not much MAPS could have done to prevent this from happening, assuming an RBL listing was necessary. It looks like their ISP is using IP-less virtual hosting, relying upon the browser-provided Host: header to determine where the user is sent.

      What, you mean like the vast majority of small ISPs and their webhosting customers do because A) it can be expensive or impossible to acquire scads of IP addresses from your upstream provider, B) the HTTP 1.1 standard explicitly encourages this, and C) the current IPv4 address space is running increasingly short of free addresses and IPv6 has been coming Real Soon Now for eons?

      Why should innocent parties have to go hunting for new ISPs because the vigilantes who run MAPS can't be bothered to worry about collateral damage? Unless the legal tradition has vastly changed in the last ten minutes, that's negligence on their part, and yes, they can and should be sued for it.

      Please don't think I have any sympathy for either censorware or spam, but I have even less for a self-appointed judicial and enforcement agency with no legal authority and no accountability to the electorate. I might feel differently if they actually did a good job, but MAPS has a long, long history of heavy-handed tactics, incompetence, and a refusal to deal fairly with those site admins who DO fix open relays and ban customers who spam. We need actual laws to regulate spam, not arrogant nerds who neither know what they're doing nor do it in good faith.

      • Why should innocent parties have to go hunting for new ISPs because the vigilantes who run MAPS can't be bothered to worry about collateral damage? Unless the legal tradition has vastly changed in the last ten minutes, that's negligence on their part, and yes, they can and should be sued for it.

        Um, no.

        A few years ago, AOL started dropping all of the mail incoming from Cyberpromo. Cyberpromo sued. The court (a Federal District courd in PA) found that AOL was entirely within their right to drop any packets they wanted, and for any reason they wanted, including Cyberpromo's spam.

        A few other cases have gone through various courts in the US with similar results. No case has ever found in favor of the spammer and no spam-specific[1] case has ever been heard at the appellate level.

        [1] There was Rowan v. US Postal Service, back in the 60's or so. The final result was that the USPS was not obligated to force people to receive pmail that they didn't want. As this was from the US Supreme Court, and the postage-due nature of spam creates an even stronger legal argument against a "right to spam," it's pretty solid precedent.

      • Without laws on the books, we either have to (a) put up with spam until effective laws are passed; or (b) find a way to pool our knowledge of known spammers and spam-friendly networks and block e-mail and/or network traffic from them.

        Remember that MAPS started as a home-grown effort to do (b). Individually, blackholing each individual netblock that spammed you and wouldn't go away was a significant effort. People got together and decided to centralize this effort and distribute the master list back to the community for the purposes of filtering. Is this really so bad? Sure, it's bigger now, but the concept and spirit is still the same, in my opinion.

        MAPS is bothered about collatoral damage. Do you think I want connectivity to innocent sites blocked when I use their RBL to block traffic to my network? Of course I don't, but there's only so much MAPS can do. Either they list the IP address(es) anyways, and I lose some connectivity with some customers of a spam-friendly ISP (99.99% odds I'd never notice this), or they don't list the IP address(es), and I get spammed.

        You may prefer MAPS not list them at all, but then you're not a customer or user of a MAPS list, are you? I am, and I would rather they add them to the RBL.

        It's not my fault that your ISP may choose to use the RBL, and that ends up blocking you from an unrelated site. Why reduce the effectiveness of a tool I want to use because you disagree with your ISP's decision to use the same tool?

        Until we have effective laws on the books and effective enforcement of those laws to see spam curbed (which I don't think will ever happen now that spam is so firmly entrenched overseas), we need ways of identifying spamming and spam-friendly networks. If you put MAPS out of business, there will be many more unofficial, grass-roots efforts that will spring up to take its place.
  • by phraktyl (92649) <<wyatt> <at> <draggoo.com>> on Saturday October 27, 2001 @03:15PM (#2487753) Homepage Journal
    At last the RBL is available [mail-abuse.org] to search through.

    I looked all over the SafeSurf web site and didn't see their block list anywhere.
  • let's start with cnn.com ... they are at least partly responsible for the average united states IQ and that is responsible for ... well ....


    precision bombing [yahoo.com] (AGAIN)

    [yahoo.com]
    terror laws (well, one cannot argue that the name isn't accurate)

    [yahoo.com]
    they're firing on our invasion force !!! THE BASTARDS (ok you didn't do it, but you provided the invasion force)

    America's online losers [aol.com]

    Microsoft Stupidity Network [msn.com] (this is slashdot, and there was no mention of microsoft in this post, I'm no karma whore, but I'm not stupid ;-) )
  • by canadian_right (410687) <alexander.russell@telus.net> on Saturday October 27, 2001 @03:20PM (#2487771) Homepage
    I wish everyone would stop trying to get the government to play the role of global babysitter.

    If you don't want your kids to see things you don't like on the internet then SUPERVISE your kids. Educate your kids. Teach your kids to respect themselves. Trust your children to use their own good judgement when they are old enough. (If you don't trust your kids you screwed up as a parent) BUT don't try to legislate away a problem that is only a problem for the lazy, apathetic, and those willing to force their narrow views on everyone.

  • Lets dump them all and start a new rating system... called Word of Mouth.

    Everyone is required to run the client software. When any site is accessed the client will ask the reviewer (person) what they think of it... Good / Bad, Adult, Hatred,... These responces will then be logged so the next time someone accesses the site and the say... Adult thresshold is not low enough they will be blocked.

    Then the communtiy at large will be the raters. Allowes for new site (unrated) to come on line and soon to be blocked for what ever or if a search in like google starts to use the info - be placed at the top of lists for being the BEST.

    You could even register as a Jew, Christian, Afro-American, .... so client could then "change" the rating system to look for responces by others with a simular belief or heritage.

    This could even work for TV and dump those stupid VChips.
  • I'd say the vast, vast majority of people (90 percent or more) have no idea what MAPS is, how it works, or that it does work. So the option to "fight back" really isn't available for most, because most people don't know that there is an enemy.

    Unfortunately the end user will often simply not be able to access a particular web site, and when that happens simply assume that it's the fault of the web site.

    I'm not sure that it is possible or practical to educate the masses about this stuff. That's where I think that a good Internet watchdog organization or activist group can do a real service.

    • I'd say the vast, vast majority of people (90 percent or more) have no idea what MAPS is, how it works, or that it does work.

      I'd put you in that 90%, because in fact, MAPS RBL does not work. Perhaps 2-3 messages per week were blocked by the RBL at our site (before the ransom on the info WE GAVE TO MAPS was demanded), while thousands were blocked by the RSS (another list built on the efforts of the people who are now being asked to pay for access to the information they supplied to MAPS).

      Ignoring the collateral damage for a moment, RBL is clearly the inferior BL, of all the BL that MAPS offers. Why then, is it the most expensive to subscribe to?
  • I can't seem to get to SafeSurf's page. Mozilla keeps telling me it doesn't exist.
  • Either they're a jackbooted Schutzstaffel officer stealing Einstein's violin, or they're Bruce Willis, saving the day once more (in a tank top no less), then crackin' open a cold one and getting the girl.

    So hard to decide...

    -Kasreyn

    • They're like the vigilante USENET Cabal! (Motto: There Is No USENET Cabal.)

      Hmm. I suppose if you don't know all about MAPS, you're unlikely to remember the Cabal, either.
  • Once again we see an american group forgetting that all the world is not the USA.

    What happens when a webmaster simpy hosts in say.. Russia?
    What then? do they block all countries without similar laws?
  • The rampant hypocrisy of SS is truly entertaining. I'm sure they don't see it, and would insist that any censorship is GOOD censorship as long as it's "for the children".

    http://www.theonion.com/onion3534/missing_the_po in t.html

  • Am I the only one... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nochops (522181) on Saturday October 27, 2001 @03:51PM (#2487836)
    ...who noticed that
    "... Publishers may be sued ...by any parent who feels their children were harmed..."

    but
    "...The parents ...do not have to prove that the content actually produced harm to their child..."

    So the publishers can be sued by any parent, and they will AUTOMATICALLY LOSE the case because the parent's don't have to prove any wrongdoing?

    Where's my passport? If this shit gets passed, I'm outa here.
  • Libertarian Parent (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rossz (67331) <ogre.geekbiker@net> on Saturday October 27, 2001 @04:00PM (#2487856) Homepage Journal
    As a libertarian, I believe censorship is wrong. As a parent, I believe censorship is sometimes necessary. I do not, however, advocate government sponsered censurship. I am my daughter's censure. When she surfs the web, I sit with her. When she does a google search, sometimes I will not let her click on one of the resultant links. On several occassions I've had her leave the room so I can check out a site first.

    There is one case where I think the government should come down hard, fast, and without mercy. I want to hurt those scumbags who use urls that are common variations of sites kids might go to, but are really porn sites, e.g. whitehouse.com and disny.com.

    Finally, I can justify shutting down spammers even though I am a libertarian. I pay for my internet access. The spammers do not. Your freedom stops at my front door. You can go to a park and spout your beliefs all you want. You can not demand entry into my home using the argument of "free speech". If you insist on forcing entry, I'll introduce you to another one of my rights. My right to own a gun.
    • by TheMCP (121589)
      I am my daughter's censure. When she surfs the web, I sit with her. When she does a google search, sometimes I will not let her click on one of the resultant links. On several occassions I've had her leave the room so I can check out a site first.

      Now, what are you teaching her about how to deal with the sort of material you have chosen to censor? How is she going to know how to react to it when she encounters it when you're not there to censor it? She will eventually encounter it without you there, even if she has to wait until she's 18 to do it. You would really rather prevent her from seeing it now and prevent her from having the benefit of your wisdom on the topic?

      I talked to my aunt about it once. She's a conservative Christian, and I figured she'd be as conservative as possible about her children's use of the net, and I was concerned about it. I was surprised: she lets all three kids use the net uncensored... but not unsupervised. She'll let them look at whatever they want to, but they have to do it when and where an adult family member can see them to provide guidance about what they're looking at. She told me she knows her children will all have to face the world without her someday, and she wants them to have the knowledge, ability, and background to help them deal with it well.

      Consequently if one of her kids accidentally encounters adult material (which is a far less common thing than people make it out to be, but it can happen) they're merely uninterested and just find another page to look at.

      There is one case where I think the government should come down hard, fast, and without mercy. I want to hurt those scumbags who use urls that are common variations of sites kids might go to, but are really porn sites, e.g. whitehouse.com and disny.com.

      Thank God we have the constitution to stop people like you.

      The net is like the world: not designed for small children, but capable of being useful to them. If you want your children to be able to use the net, you have to supervise their use of it yourself, just as you supervise your child living in the world. If you can't take the time to fulfill your parental responsibilities regarding the net, you shouldn't let your child on the net. It's not everybody else's responsibility to make sure your child is safe and/or not exposed to what you don't want your child exposed to by changing the net, just as it's not our responsibility to ensure that your child is always safe everywhere on earth by eliminating all sharp objects.

      And I'll remind you of something else: it is not only your responsibility as a parent to protect your child and see to their well being, but also to see that they aren't a nuisance to everyone around them and that they are socialized properly. So, even if you could get perfect censorware software (which we know can't exist, but let's pretend), it would still be your obligation to monitor your child's internet usage to ensure that they don't annoy everybody else on the net. So, why should we go changing the net to accomodate your tastes given that it's your responsibility to be there anyway?

      If disny.com is a porn site, though, you might contact the Disney company about it, which might take perfectly legitimate (and constitutional) legal action of their own about the matter, such as for trademark violation.

      • If you can't take the time to fulfill your parental responsibilities regarding the net, you shouldn't let your child on the net.

        Did you even read what I wrote? I do exactly that. I spend time with her to supervise her net activities. When she is a few years older, I will stop standing guard over her net usage. At the moment, however, she is only eleven years old. In a few years she will hit those rebellious teen years. I am not so naive to think I can be successful in sheltering her from the real world. Also, my daughter grew up in Europe where the t.v. shows are quite a bit looser in what they allow on public channels. She's not growing up inside a box. I'm sure she has a much more wordly view of things than her classmates.

    • Perhaps this may be a bit offtopic, but I'd like to give a rational response to your policies regarding your daughter.

      I am a fairly young teenager. I've been using the Internet since I was 5, when all we had was a link through Compuserve as a gateway.
      Back when we first got the WWW (1995) my Dad used to sit with me while I used the Internet, although he never really paid attention. I wasn't allowed to go into WWW chat rooms, and that was it. There was a similar policy for books I read. Occasionally he would leaf through a book I was reading, but almost always just to see what I was reading at the time.
      I must say that the lack of censorship enriched my life immeasurably. I highly doubt that I would have been allowed to read Heinlein if my Dad had actually censured my reading material, yet from many of them I learned important principles and read great literature. Same on the WWW. I doubt I'd be reading Slashdot right now if my family had had a policy of censureship. I sincerely doubt that I'd be typing this now on a computer I built had I been censured; my elementary teachers had a thing about me reading at an appropriate grade level (a.k.a. lower than what I could). My father did not. And when I finally came across what I decided was improper, I decided not to because of ideas I'd learned from Socrates, not out of a fear of Big Brother. As far as I can tell, I have not been traumatized.
      So do what you want. I suppose you are a parent, and your decisions take precedence over mine (at least for now). But I can only say that you are detracting from your daughter's life. Enrich it. Let her run free.

  • WTF? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Velex (120469) on Saturday October 27, 2001 @04:01PM (#2487858) Homepage Journal

    Ok, isn't SafeSurf among the guys responsible for not letting me do research on breast cancer, transsexualism, gay rights, the second amendment, and drug abuse, among other things not suited for the children? Here are a few points:

    1. SafeSurf is easily guilty of the same things it accuses MAPS of, namely censorship.
    2. Most of SafeSurf's argument is dependant on the children, and this should set off a red flag.
    3. SafeSurf's basically saying that it's their liberty to participate in denying liberty to others.
    4. SafeSurf accuses MAPS of being "blinded by the smell of spammer's blood," not seeming "to care how many innocent Web sites they trounce in the process." Couldn't the same easily be said about SafeSurf's obsession over filtering anything they this is unsuitable for the children?
    5. "Censorship is a broad brush that drips paint on the pure, as well as the tainted." Listen to your own words, SafeSurf.
    6. Overall, the strength of the rhetoric compared to the severity of the problem here and the difficulty that MAPS would have avoiding the problem tends to indicate to me that SafeSurf really has no case, and they know it.
    7. SafeSurf seems too concerned about the children for me to really take them seriously
  • MAPS doesn't blacklist sites for sharing a network with spammers; they blacklist networks that have a spam problem. This is different, just as there's a difference between hitting someone who jumps in front of your car and trying to run someone down.

    I know everyone likes to stick up for the little guy, but when the little guy would rather work with companies that host spammers than companies that don't, I guess I don't have a lot of sympathy left for him.
  • by Seth Finkelstein (90154) on Saturday October 27, 2001 @04:44PM (#2487954) Homepage Journal
    Without getting into the whole spam issue, here's some relevant info:

    safesurf.com is IP address 63.107.146.25 There were a bunch of spammish sites at OTHER places in the 63.107.146.* netblock. And MAPS will blacklist every single address within a netblock when it "escalates" their dispute.

    See this long list of spammish sites once in the 63.107.146.* netblock (June 22 2001) [google.com]

    Note many if not all of these sites have changed address by now.

    Sig: What Happened To The Censorware Project (censorware.org) [sethf.com]

  • by pigeonhed (137303) on Saturday October 27, 2001 @06:16PM (#2488153) Journal
    Cause that was so funny I just ruined a keyboard.

    Mod Article: +1 Funny
  • Why is MAPS blocking web sites? I want SPAM to be blocked, not web sites. I don't get SPAM from web sites, I get SPAM from mail servers. So I want mail servers to be blocked when they send SPAM. And if a network of mail servers is sending it (determined by SPAM having come from 2 or more in the same netblock), then block all the mail servers from sending SPAM. The ISP need not even be blocked, unless the ISP makes the blocking difficult by either not properly identifying the spammer network assignment, or changing the spammer network address range (unless actually required to enlarge their network, or the ISP has to renumber everything). This would be for "spamhaus" type operations. Open relays and direct spam from dynamic IP customers is another matter (but can be dealt with).

    MAPS is misleading people by blocking more than SPAM. They are using those who subscribe to their black hole to push their agenda on others (even though I personally agree with some of it, I don't agree with their methods).

    MAPS is also mismanaged, but I don't really care about that anymore. The fact that they are mismanaged helped keep me from inadvertently being one of their pawns.

    • Why is MAPS blocking web sites? I want SPAM to be blocked, not web sites. I don't get SPAM from web sites, I get SPAM from mail servers.
      I would like to hear more on this from those who are involved with anti-spam efforts, and are therefore keep a closer eye on spammer activities. Having said that, I've noticed a few things that I find interesting.

      Spamming is not an accepted activity and thus, spammers must resort to great measures to continue their trade. Lucky for them, one doesn't have to maintain a presence to spam. Its a very hit-and-run activity. Spammers therefore use a variety of resources - incorrectly configured mail relays, throw-away accounts, and stolen accounts [freewebsites.com].

      Blocking email servers helps limit the damage from questionable business contracts and misconfigured relays. It might even put pressure on those who provide easy access to throw-away accounts... though usually the damage is already done. It does very little to prevent the damage done with stolen accounts using otherwise valid resources.

      So if you can't go after the source of the spam, the only thing left to target is the spam's goal. The item being advertised (and likely the real source of the spam since most activities are being conducted by, or for-hire by, those being advertised). If that involves a web site (or another spammer resource), you point that site out and allow the community that uses the MAPS service to block it - essentially shunning it from the shared network. And by doing so, attempt to remove (or at least limit) the incentive to spam (and in some cases, some of the tools that help spammers).

      So that might explain the reason that anti-spam efforts would extend beyond email servers. But this activity also brings forward a whole slew of other questions; power-plays, censorship, etc.

      • Spamming is not an accepted activity and thus, spammers must resort to great measures to continue their trade. Lucky for them, one doesn't have to maintain a presence to spam. Its a very hit-and-run activity. Spammers therefore use a variety of resources - incorrectly configured mail relays, throw-away accounts, and stolen accounts [freewebsites.com].

        You are referring to a different category of spamming, the kind we see pyramid schemes and ponzi schemes and other get rich schemes from the low life. It is a very important category to deal with, but it's not the matter I was addressing. I am addressing the "spamhaus" type operation where a spammer sets up servers of their own. These vary from sending equally disgusting scams, to simply being sources of marketing mailings from people who didn't actually opt-in.

        Blocking email servers helps limit the damage from questionable business contracts and misconfigured relays. It might even put pressure on those who provide easy access to throw-away accounts... though usually the damage is already done. It does very little to prevent the damage done with stolen accounts using otherwise valid resources.

        Yes, these servers need to be blocked to prevent getting the garbage. Open relays should be blocked, and stay blocked until they are closed, and perhaps confirmed closed. If the network the open relay exists on hosts other mail servers, they may also be misconfigured, and potentially subject to being blocked ... certainly so if spam comes from them as well.

        Another mode of spam is getting more popular and that is direct broadband spam. Spam from direct dialups did happen, but the bandwidth limited its effect. These need to be blocked. Many dialups have been listed in blacklists, and broadband dynamic pools are also getting listed. Open relays also exist within these.

        So if you can't go after the source of the spam, the only thing left to target is the spam's goal. The item being advertised (and likely the real source of the spam since most activities are being conducted by, or for-hire by, those being advertised). If that involves a web site (or another spammer resource), you point that site out and allow the community that uses the MAPS service to block it - essentially shunning it from the shared network. And by doing so, attempt to remove (or at least limit) the incentive to spam (and in some cases, some of the tools that help spammers).

        Why can't you go after the source of the spam? Do you have an example case?

        This does not remove the incentive to spam. The perception that comes across when this is done is that a few people are trying to block the spam from the masses. They still believe they are providing "valuable product/market/service information" to the masses, and will just seek some way to avoid the "problem" of MAPS. They change addresses, change ISPs, invoke legal maneuvers. Few cease spamming and those that do only do so because funds run out. None have a change of heart. If they are spending money to set up spam operations, they are not some "innocent" individual who didn't realize what he was really doing.

        How do you block spamming tools? Many of those tools are also useful for legitimate (confirmed opt-in) mass mailings and even mailing lists that many open source developers use.

        So that might explain the reason that anti-spam efforts would extend beyond email servers. But this activity also brings forward a whole slew of other questions; power-plays, censorship, etc.

        That is indeed a problem. And I also believe the current anti-spam methods mask and obscure the reality that the vast majority of people truly do not want spam. By having a few self-appointed anti-spam-masters doing this, the real election of not wanting spam by everyone else is not really seen. By going beyond simply providing tools and information to help people block just spam, they are not only alienating some people like me (I no longer want to use MAPS, but that does not mean I was to start accepting spam), but also confusing the whole big picture.

        • I am addressing the "spamhaus" type operation where a spammer sets up servers of their own. These vary from sending equally disgusting scams, to simply being sources of marketing mailings from people who didn't actually opt-in.
          Hmm. There might be a bit of a distinction between, say, a pyramid scheme and an offer to buy a product. One is more offensive than the other. But ultimately - spam is spam. It doesn't matter what the message is - its the method of delivery that's at issue.

          This anti-spam feeling that's been generally favored on the net since CyberPromotions first attempted to "legitimize" the spam industry is the same attitude that makes it hard for later attempts to flourish. Once a "spamhaus" is identified, it begins to find itself slowly cut off from the rest of the Internet.

          Spammers will attempt to use other methods. These outfits seem to be just as organized as a "spamhaus" who pays for and uses its own resources. I would suspect the information displayed on the Behind Enemy Lines [freewebsites.com] site is fairly representative of the players in the spam game.

          In short, it doesn't really matter who is spamming and how they're getting it out. The fact is, they ARE getting it out. And they will continue to find additional ways to spam unless they loose the incentive to do it. And that incentive isn't just pure joy. They're after money.

          Why can't you go after the source of the spam? Do you have an example case?
          I'm not saying don't go after the (apparent) source at all. Certainly, this needs to be done. But we can't expect this to continue to be effective. Because spammers are trying harder and harder to mask themselves, or otherwise use hit-and-run tactics, we're not always going find the source in a spam's headers.

          How do you block spamming tools? Many of those tools are also useful for legitimate (confirmed opt-in) mass mailings and even mailing lists that many open source developers use.
          I should have used more detail on this point. "Spam tools" raises some interesting issues. First, my actual meaning wasn't just spam mailer applications (although they did come to mind). My main thought was towards services such as dynamic DNS and web hosting set up with the intent to provide resources for spammers.

          Mass mailer tools are a different matter. Some of these are being sold as spam tools. These are the most damaging. Not because of the spam being sent with them - after all, there are a lot of tools that can be used to spam. But because the sites selling these tools are often full of misleading statements that attempt to add an air of legitimacy to the practice. This only encourages the uninitiated to invest in this "business", convincing them that they're just a step away from easy financial freedom. But because of the issues with censorship, etc I worry that blocking a site that advertising the "Spaminator 2000" software suite does more damage than good (unless that site has been advertised via a spam campaign).

          The perception that comes across when this is done is that a few people are trying to block the spam from the masses. They still believe they are providing "valuable product/market/service information" to the masses, and will just seek some way to avoid the "problem" of MAPS.
          I've kept this point to the end since I've been pondering over it a bit. I both agree and (I think) disagree with you.

          If I understand your point correctly, you're stating that while a smaller selection of admins and anti-spammers take action, spammers believe they're simply being targeted by a vocal minority. In fact, we need a larger percentage of end users to take action and prove that spammers are not welcomed and their messages are not wanted. That would curb the desire to spam. Until that time, spammers will simply circumvent the latest attempts to stop them.

          I agree that spammers will continue to find new avenues and methods to practice their trade. And in a previous post [slashdot.org] I mused over what kind of statistics would be generated if all ISPs offered their customers a choice between filtered and non-filtered email service.

          However, I disagree that spammers would discontinue their ways if presented with this evidence. If you look at the portraits of Rodona Garst in the Behind Enemy Lines [freewebsites.com] site, you'll notice a slew of those inspirational posters. Spammers are success-oriented. They have convinced themselves that spamming will in itself, or in part, provide them with that success. In some cases, spammers even go to great length to defend their activities as acceptable, even welcomed. This is despite the ample evidence to the contrary in the form of ISP AUP's, spam-free service commercials, legislative activity, anti-spam activities and tools, and a wealth of internet history that dates back to 1994's first usenet spamming by lawyers Laurence Canter and Martha Siegel.

          Spammers have either convince themselves that their actions are accptable, or they simply do not care. I suspect the later.

          In any case, spamming is business. Whether spamming works or not, its attraction is its perceived cost vs return. Until spamming becomes cost prohibitive (running out of money was mentioned and I agree there) people will continue to spam.

          • This anti-spam feeling that's been generally favored on the net since CyberPromotions first attempted to "legitimize" the spam industry is the same attitude that makes it hard for later attempts to flourish. Once a "spamhaus" is identified, it begins to find itself slowly cut off from the rest of the Internet.

            Indeed they will. But my position is that this cut off should be "grassroots" in nature, that is, by the end recipients via the servers that host them (be that an office mail server or an ISP).

            Spammers will attempt to use other methods. These outfits seem to be just as organized as a "spamhaus" who pays for and uses its own resources. I would suspect the information displayed on the Behind Enemy Lines [freewebsites.com] site is fairly representative of the players in the spam game.

            This also shows the futility of having ISPs cancel spammer's accounts. There's more where that one came from, and even more from other places.

            In short, it doesn't really matter who is spamming and how they're getting it out. The fact is, they ARE getting it out. And they will continue to find additional ways to spam unless they loose the incentive to do it. And that incentive isn't just pure joy. They're after money.

            In short, spamming will continue forever. Only a locked down internet will prevent it. We're not giving up all of our freedoms (well, some for now) just because a band of digusting people taking Allah's name in vain try to hurt innocent people. These are people (back to spammers) already practiced in the art of evading and moving on to send bulk mail. They'll just do the same for the web sites.

            I'm not saying don't go after the (apparent) source at all. Certainly, this needs to be done. But we can't expect this to continue to be effective. Because spammers are trying harder and harder to mask themselves, or otherwise use hit-and-run tactics, we're not always going find the source in a spam's headers.

            We're probably using different terms here. By source I mean where the spam comes from as it is reaching my server. That would be the open relay (it will get blocked), or the spamhaus network (it will get blocked).

            I should have used more detail on this point. "Spam tools" raises some interesting issues. First, my actual meaning wasn't just spam mailer applications (although they did come to mind). My main thought was towards services such as dynamic DNS and web hosting set up with the intent to provide resources for spammers.

            And how would you craft this so it does not end up hurting other dynamic DNS users? Would you just be focusing only on service providers who specifically do this only for spammers?

            Mass mailer tools are a different matter. Some of these are being sold as spam tools. These are the most damaging. Not because of the spam being sent with them - after all, there are a lot of tools that can be used to spam. But because the sites selling these tools are often full of misleading statements that attempt to add an air of legitimacy to the practice. This only encourages the uninitiated to invest in this "business", convincing them that they're just a step away from easy financial freedom. But because of the issues with censorship, etc I worry that blocking a site that advertising the "Spaminator 2000" software suite does more damage than good (unless that site has been advertised via a spam campaign).

            Tools like "1st Class Mail" as shown in Behind Enemy Lines [freewebsites.com] are certainly valid targets. The misleading messages on the sites offering those does perhaps needs to be the focus. Is there fraud? Probably. Go after that.

            If I understand your point correctly, you're stating that while a smaller selection of admins and anti-spammers take action, spammers believe they're simply being targeted by a vocal minority. In fact, we need a larger percentage of end users to take action and prove that spammers are not welcomed and their messages are not wanted. That would curb the desire to spam. Until that time, spammers will simply circumvent the latest attempts to stop them.

            Not exactly. It is not focused on convincing spammers, per se. It is focused on convincing those who have an effect on anti-spamming operations. It should encourage more ISPs to use anti-spam tools. And I'd like to see legislation that provides for civil liability protection for those who choose to use anti-spamming tools (but I oppose legislation against spamming for the most part)

            I agree that spammers will continue to find new avenues and methods to practice their trade. And in a previous post [slashdot.org] I mused over what kind of statistics would be generated if all ISPs offered their customers a choice between filtered and non-filtered email service.

            And I am currently studying how I might make a mail server that offers the ability to let the customer specify exactly the categories of blocking they want to use. These would include:

            • Businesses using only opt-out techniques to gather addresses at the time the address is gathered
            • Businesses using only opt-out techniques but no opt-out option at the time the address is gathered
            • Businesses using opt-in without confirming the address at the time it is gathered
            • Businesses using opt-in without cleaning their list of rejected addresses
            • Businesses not offering any obvious way to opt-out
            • Businesses running a clean, verified and confirmed, opt-in only address gathering
            • Open relays known to actually have relayed spam (excluding known multi-hop output)
            • Other untested mail servers on the same network as Open relays
            • The whole known network where an open relay is present
            • The whole ISP hosting or connecting a known open relay
            • Connection from any mail server without reverse DNS
            • Connection from any mail server with reverse DNS for an invalid name
            • Connection from any mail server with reverse DNS that does not forward resolve back correctly
            • Multi-hop output servers
            • Entire network/ISP of mult-hop output servers
            • All mail servers at ISP known to host web servers offering spamming tools or services
            • All mail servers at ISP known to host web servers of spamvertized sites (excluding cases known to be not sanction)
            • All mail servers known to be running SMTP protocol (this to catch the sleepy)
            • Businesses conducting mail surveys of consumers
            • Businesses conducting mail surveys of businesses
            By giving the customer a choice, not only does that put me (or whoever offers it) in a better legal position, it also makes it more obvious what end recipients really want, or not. The better legal position is that a mailing operation is accurately described, and is not lumped in with another. It can be argued that some recipient may want to receive mail from some of the categories and not others. If someone wants to actually get mail from Harris Interactive, for example, let them. Harris Interactive should not be lumped in with Rodona Garst, regardless of your feeling, or mine, regarding either.
            However, I disagree that spammers would discontinue their ways if presented with this evidence. If you look at the portraits of Rodona Garst in the Behind Enemy Lines [freewebsites.com] site, you'll notice a slew of those inspirational posters. Spammers are success-oriented. They have convinced themselves that spamming will in itself, or in part, provide them with that success. In some cases, spammers even go to great length to defend their activities as acceptable, even welcomed. This is despite the ample evidence to the contrary in the form of ISP AUP's, spam-free service commercials, legislative activity, anti-spam activities and tools, and a wealth of internet history that dates back to 1994's first usenet spamming by lawyers Laurence Canter and Martha Siegel.

            Spammers won't discontinue regardless. I'm not proposing that it be done to cause them to want to discontinue. Some will stop, but many will keep on going. I think my method is correct for obtaining the end result of a large scale acceptance of the anti-spam measures, and to convince those who neither spam, nor worry about fighting spamming, to at least accept the notion that measures against spam are good things and won't harm other aspects of business. Rodona Garst is not going to stop just because her web sites get cut off, or no one wants her garbage, or her bare breasts get shown online.

          • and BTW ... you and I do not seem to be that far apart on quite a lot of things. I was going to send you private email, but your address is not in revealed /. user info. But I bet you can track mine down pretty easily.

  • Hyperbole (Score:2, Funny)

    by jayhawk88 (160512)
    Thousands of family friendly Web sites, for no fault of their own, are being rendered inaccessible by "stealth censorship" and it may be putting people's lives at risk, warned SafeSurf, the online safety organization.

    That's pretty good, but what they really needed to do here was say that it put children's lives at risk. Orphan children. Orphan children who have been raising money for their local church community center. And who own puppies.

    You don't want to see church fund raising, puppy owning, orphan children be put at risk, do you?
  • "Its like shutting off phone service to thousands of people simply because they have the same prefix as an obscene caller," explained Soular."

    Well, it's more like shutting off phone service to a house that's got more than one jack. You can only really be as granular as one IP address, and if that hosts 1000 sites...

    When all is said and done it's funny to see militant anti-spammers fighting militant censors. Although at least the anti-spammers are improving quality of life...

    • Assuming your @home.com address means that you're from N-A, who do you think founded our countries? How about militant freedom fighters?

      They've improved quality of life for a long time ... just make spam illegal then prosecute -- blocking IPs isn't necessary.
  • Does anyone read text emphasized like that ? !

    I mean, who was writing that statement for SafeSurf? A six year old who cries about someone breaking their toys? Maybe they should've used this (warning, popupbanner) [tripod.de] little toy to make their text look even better. But form follows content, and the content is even worse. They even dare to suggest someone might die because of MAPS' actions and proceed to construct a, however unlikely, scenario for this.

    SafeSurf very obviously have it on their agenda to impose their will on anyone running a website all over the world, and their drivel about not wanting to censor, but only to enforce "correct labeling" of websites is just a heap of steaming bullshit, because after everything is labelled someone will start sorting out the 'bad' stuff, after all the effect is very obviously censoring, and all that nicely worded (in fact quite nauseating) writeup of theirs doesn't change that fact a bit.

    So someone put the label 'spammer' over their block of ip addresses and as a consequence noone can hear them. Maybe that should give them a bit to think about. But no, when you're the only one, who knows what's best fore everyone else, you better don't think too much or you'll never get the job done.
  • Has anyone noticed their (claimed) trademark on "SS~~"? Are these guys going to try to extract royalties from sites that want to be voluntarily self-rated? If I have to pay these guys even a penny to be allowed to use their trademark to be rated, it won't ever happen. If they want a law to require it (bad idea, anyway) they better not ask that the law require using their trademark.

  • Anyone else notice that their technical, billing and admin contacts are all one putz at an AOL address?

    Something tells me they don't know very much about the technology they're trying to control....

    Registrant:
    SafeSurf (SAFESURF-DOM)
    1304 Newbury Road Unit E
    Newbury Park, CA 91320
    US

    Domain Name: SAFESURF.COM

    Administrative Contact, Technical Contact, Billing Contact:
    Soular, Ray (RS588) superfixer@AOL.COM
    Dazzle.net
    16209 Victory Blvd. PMB 256
    Van Nuys, CA 91406
    (310) 572-6560 (FAX) (209) 821-7132

    Record last updated on 21-Sep-2001.
    Record expires on 17-May-2002.
    Record created on 16-May-1995.
    Database last updated on 27-Oct-2001 09:29:00 EDT.

    Domain servers in listed order:

    PRIMARY.CBPOL.NET 63.107.147.5
    SECONDARY.CBPOL.NET 63.107.147.6
  • An "open letter". (Score:2, Interesting)

    by BreakWindows (442819)
    MAPS' RBL blocking is censorship in its worst manifestation. It is a extremist system that seeks to censor people simply because they happen to be with the same ISP that has a particular individual that MAPS does not like.

    As opposed to blocking sites that use one word you don't like. EG: 2600.com has nothing but news reports and an online store, but using the word "hacking" got them banned by this and similar systems. Several history sites were also banned because "nazi", "hitler" and "kill jews" were all used...so now 'the children' can't even do their homework. Guess they'll go play Diablo instead, since their computers are useless for that homework thing.

    MAPS may claim that their actions are in the interest of good, but in reality they would easily trade in the good of children to achieve their goal.

    ...and you claim you actions are in the interest of good, but in reality you easily trade in the good of people as a whole to achieve your goal.

    Censorship is a broad brush that drips paint on the pure, as well as the tainted.

    Imagine trying to connect to a crisis assistance site after a devastating earthquake, only to find its among a vast IP group being blocked by ...


    You? Imagine being in an internet cafe and trying to check emergency sites or news sites after the WTC attack, only to find that cafe uses your product, thus banning sites with words like "terrorist/ism" "bombs" "kill americans" and "fuck america". Sound too weird to be true? Sorry...it happened!! But since you love analogies so much here's one: Just like I complained to the owner of that internet cafe who uses your software, maybe you should be complaining to the ISP's who chose to use MAPS.

    People sicken me more by the minute.
  • The safesurf release keeps talking about blocking websites based on MAPS. This would require firewall software that would have to match every outbound IP packet, or at least every outbound http session request, to the MAPS database. To use the MAPS database in realtime, the firewall would have to send an extra DNS query to MAPS (a DNS query that no normal application would use, other than email MTA configured to use MAPS), therefore requiring it to be custom firewall software. For a large ISP this would need to be a monstrous piece of gear. I just don't believe it. Yes they may be having their outbound email stopped by MAPS, but inbound access to their websites? Seems very unlikely.
    • No it doesn't require anything of the sort. In fact, MAPS' site has information on how to configure your Internet routers to use the RBL to block all IP traffic from RBL-listed networks.

      If you remember, just over a year ago Macromedia's network got listed on the RBL and subscribers to a number of ISPs were unable to download Flash plugins, etc.
      MAPS promotes this type of behavious behind a thin screen of "don't blame us if it blows up in your face". I agree with some of what they do, but RBL on BGP is bad and so is the DUL.
      • MAPS' site has information on how to configure your Internet routers to use the RBL to block all IP traffic from RBL-listed networks.

        Oops. Yes, it does. I didn't see this last time I was there, but I guess I didn't scroll down far enough in their doc.

        Still seems like overkill, especially since there is no apparent notification to any enduser as to why this happening, (whereas with sendmail, you can choose for the sender to get back some sort of more-or-less informative message), but it definitely would block outbound access to websites.
  • Most importantly, any Internet law must not censor thought. It may regulate the labeling on the packaging but never the content.

    This is on it's face, a pair of completely contradictory statements. The two goals cannot be reconciled.

    The labelling is based on the content, and the regulation is based on the labelling. Therefore, the regulation IS based on the content, contrary to what is asserted in the first statement. One degree of indirection cannot hide the fact that this is censorship, if the government is mandating the labelling.

You have a tendency to feel you are superior to most computers.

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