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Have You Really Read Your ISP's TOS? 428

Posted by timothy
from the haven't-read-mine-that's-for-sure dept.
NewtonsLaw writes "XTRA, New Zealand's largest ISP is in the process of losing customers in droves after it announced its new Terms of Service which seek to claim rights over customers intellectual property (see the Slashdot discussion). Now, if that wasn't enough, Aardvark Daily reports that the ISP is also banning its users from saying bad things (anything 'detrimental to our reputation or to our brand') about it. I wonder how many slashdotters have actually read their own ISPs' terms of service in detail? Is this type of IP-grab and clampdown on free speech is unique to Xtra or is it slowly pervading the whole industry, right across the globe?" Read on for Xtra's amendments to the original IP-grab terms, though.

Reader THX1138 points out that "After the very recent story on Xtra (New Zealand's version of AOL) they changed the IP section to include 'Xtra does not claim ownership of any content or material you provide or make available through the Services. However...' at the start and 'in each case for the limited purposes for which you provided or made the Customer Materials available or to enable us and our suppliers to provide the Services.' at the end."

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Have You Really Read Your ISP's TOS?

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  • by PD (9577) <slashdotlinux@pdrap.org> on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @02:06AM (#5691497) Homepage Journal
    If they give up common carrier status and start controlling and owning everything on their network, does this mean that if terrorist sites or kiddie porn appear on their network, their CEO and board of directors will be habeas corpused off to Cuba? Or whatever the equivalent thing that New Zealand does to people they don't like.
  • by jazir1979 (637570) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @02:07AM (#5691503)
    ...they can have my slashdot posts!

    Nothing intellectual there, really :p
  • by Tailhook (98486) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @02:08AM (#5691507)

    Is this type of IP-grab and clampdown on free speech is unique to Xtra or is it slowly pervading the whole industry, right across the globe?

    At what point did free speech become global?

  • A *GREAT* ISP (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @02:10AM (#5691516)
    I live in the Portland/Metro area of Oregon and I *love* my ISP (http://www.easystreet.com).

    They are geek-friendly. They encourage limited sharing of your DSL bandwidth (I mean, as long as you lock it down with a password so not every yahoo driving buy can use it) and offer a lot toward the wireless community in Oregon.

    Not to mention, they have great policies about allowing you to run non-commercial web and email servers (which is important for me since I do a lot of small testing stuff) and are staffed by a lot of good people (some I've worked with before in a former life).

    Everything you could want in an ISP, they are. I have never had a problem with them. Period. They are always friendly, helpful, have 24x7 support. Even their second and third tier tech guys will get paged and call you back in the middle of the night if you are experiencing a severe problem.

    They also have people familiar in supporting non-windows OSes (mac, linux, etc) and offere their own tutorials for home networking.

    Overall they are very cheap (compared to cable at least - especially if you want static IPs. For the cost of one static IP with Comcast, you can get eight here).

    I've been with them for three years and since I work from home, I make HEAVY use of the DSL service. Qwest provides the actual line and I've only had two or three issues in all three years, total. One was due to a hardware problem at the PO-LOC (Qwest problem, obviously), one was due to the ISPs backbone getting torched for a few hours and another was up in the air - but eventually fixed itself.

    I would say that I have had approximately two days of down time in these three years. Remarkably good for all the benifits you get.
  • Of course it is. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zorgon (66258) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @02:11AM (#5691517) Homepage Journal
    This is the next big thing for corporations to do, is to attempt control the content that flows over "their" wires. Fortunately governments have failed to control encryption (intentionally? adjust aluminum hat if you think so, but maybe) so this might not be as ominous as it first appears. But if the courts cooperate (i.e. subpoena your key) then ... hilarity may ensue.
    • by dknj (441802) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @02:46AM (#5691651) Journal
      My mom's ISP, RCN, does control the content that flows over "their" wires... I quote from the Internet Access Agreement [rcn.com]:

      (m) Scrolling. You agree not to cause the screen to "scroll" faster than other subscribers or users are able to type to it, or any action to a similar disruptive effect on or through the Access Service.

      Usually I just skim through the TOS to find my unlimited download and upload limits and find crazy lines like the one above.

      -dk
    • Re:Of course it is. (Score:3, Informative)

      by panaceaa (205396)
      Xtra does not claim ownership of any content or material you provide or make available through the Services.

      XTRA isn't claiming any property right on what you put on the Internet, such as Slashdot postings, email or files you upload to third-party web hosts. It's just claiming a right to redistribute content that you put on your XTRA-hosted website. I don't see anything wrong with that... if they don't declare their right to do so, you could sue them for redistributing your copyrighted material after
  • TOS (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @02:12AM (#5691523)
    I haven't read my TOS yet, but I can tell you that my ISP is a total piece of sh
  • In my experience TOS agreements are more about "this is what we can do" rather than what they actually do.

    Does anyone have a report where they have actually followed through with the terms and taken someone to court or terminated their connection because of this?

    __________
    cheap web site hosting [cheap-web-...ing.com.au] for vanity domains.

  • by flokemon (578389) <florence@hoQUOTEtbox.ru minus punct> on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @02:15AM (#5691532) Homepage
    If they need a clause forbidding their users to criticise them, then it's A LOT of criticism they must be trying to cut down.

    I hope it won't influence ISP's like BT, Freeserve or Wanadoo, who could probably want to end the bad reviews they get from their customers too. If their users are not allowed to say how shit they are, how will others find out that they should not sign for them?!
    • From Section 3, paragraphs 1 and 3:

      You must ... not use [our Services] for any activities ... which interfere with other users or defames ... our Websites or Services.

      Defamation is the same as slander, and is illegal throughout most of the civilized world. Slander is the communication of false statements with a malicious intent. XTRA's Terms of Service are not forbidding you from criticizing their services. They are just reiterating rights that they are already given under law.
  • Other NZ ISPs (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Coryoth (254751) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @02:18AM (#5691540) Homepage Journal
    There are other good NZ ISPs, XTRA is simply the biggest because it is owned and run by the local phone company (who have, in the past instituted a few interesting changes to phone line use policy that made it very expensive for other ISPs).

    Still, the good news is that everyone is leaving. A large company with some degree of market dominance will often do something nasty - but it just takes people actually doing something about it to make such practices much harder (Telecom eventually got burned on their new phone line policies a while ago).

    Hooray for people actually standing up for themselves. GO the New Zealanders.

    Jedidiah
  • by g00z (81380) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @02:20AM (#5691550) Homepage
    Speaking of insane "agreements"....

    The other day I purchased some domain space and dusted off my old domain name I had sitting around for about a year. When I went to change my DNS records via netsol, this is what I got:

    "It's appears you haven't agreed to our new revised terms of service. You must do so before you proceed."

    So, before agreeing to something I haven't even seen, I went and checked it out. HOLY JESUS -- The thing had to have been about 300 pages long. Besides being soaked in legal double talk, the thing was straight up unreadable in size. This is not service agreement, it's a freaking tome! Needless to say, while I tried to read it, it was all too much and I just agreed to it in the end. I mean, I just need to change a DNS record, not spend 2 days trying to digest the most uninteresting thing ever written. Besides, what if I saw something totally evil in there anyway? Chances are, I would have agreed. What am I going to do, let my domain name go to waste? I already payed for it. Shenanigans!

    It's a sad state of affairs. Shouldn't there be some sort of limit on the length of a TOS agreement? It reminds me of the old cartoons where somebody would pull out some insane contract with a library of congress's worth of text on the bottom that could only be read with a microscope.

    • by Jason1729 (561790) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @02:41AM (#5691638)
      You complain about the agreement, but by agreeing to it, you mearly re-enforce that it's okay for them to do it. There are countless registrars out there now. Most will allow you to transfer a domain name for their annual fee and then include a 1 year extension so the transfer is basically free.

      By clicking you agree, you're voting with your dollars, and that's all that matters to these companies.

      Jason
      ProfQuotes [profquotes.com]

      • "By clicking you agree, you're voting with your dollars, and that's all that matters to these companies."

        People will sign contracts without reading them because it is highly inconvenient to do otherwise. I regard that as their right, but I also think it's important that they suffer the full consequences if it backfires on them. God help you if I'm on a civil jury where you're a defendant that signed a contract without reading it. People don't read real world paper contracts that bestow financial obligat
        • by Jason1729 (561790) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @03:46AM (#5691822)
          I agree with you, and I do read the contracts. When I was applying to access my bank account online, I was supposed to sign a form saying I'd read and agreed to the terms of service on a separate document. When I asked to see that document, the customer service person looked at me like I was nuts. It took her 10 minutes to find a copy and then I sat there and read the 5 page document. There was a clause that said they are not responsible if someone steals from my account even if it's their own employee acting through their negligence. Basically it gives them the right to take my money any time they want. Of course I refused to sign the agreement and from the reactions of the people there that was the first time it had happened.

          I was taking an IT law course at the time, so I took a copy of the contract to school and showed it to the lawyer teaching the course. He said if it went to court, a judge would probably throw the clause out, but it would cost so much to fight it, I'd still lose.

          I wonder how many people have signed their life's savings over to their bank like that without even knowing it. Jason
          ProfQuotes [profquotes.com]
          • IANAnAnalLawyer, but, as I understand it, if you see something in a contract, you don't like, simply score it out, add whatever re-wording you want and sign the resulting contract.

            I did this with a government agency that wanted to have free and unfettered access to my private medical records.

            I scored that bit out, and added, that they may only have access upon contacting me first and obtaining my permission, and that I vet the information they can have access to (basically "no you can't have access", but

    • So, before agreeing to something I haven't even seen, I went and checked it out. HOLY JESUS -- The thing had to have been about 300 pages long. Besides being soaked in legal double talk, the thing was straight up unreadable in size. This is not service agreement, it's a freaking tome! Needless to say, while I tried to read it, it was all too much and I just agreed to it in the end.

      They changed the agreement quite a while ago, and like you I freaked out when I read it. Unlike you, I have left the "agree"

  • Well... (Score:3, Informative)

    by ATAMAH (578546) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @02:21AM (#5691555)
    Here is a bit of insight from a New Zealand resident. Xtra is actually an internet branch of Telecom New Zealand. Telecom NZ has been a monopoly here for a very long time, right untill a few years ago (about 4 years, approx.) a weak competition arrived in form of Clear. Weak, because Telecom owns the cabling throughout the country... Then australian Telstra came in, merged with clear and put their own cabling. Anyway, to cut it shorter: Xtra has always been obnoxious towards their customers, since there wasn't much choice in terms of decent internet service. However nowdays if they keep on going like that - they ARE going to loose big time, cause there are other ISPs available that do not depend on Telecoms bandwidth.
  • In Breach (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mvdw (613057) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @02:22AM (#5691562) Homepage

    Before today, I'd only given the TOS a cursory glance, and I found that I am regularly in breach of a couple of the terms:

    1. "You must not maintain or permit multiple concurrent connections to the Internet Access." - I connect through a smoothwall firewall, which is connected to several computers, quite often two of these are in use concurrently;
    2. "never recording Your password on Your computer, and safely storing Your password"; - The password is stored on the smoothwall (encrypted, but still), so that anyone that knows the smoothwall password can access the internet... contrary to TOS above, it seems ;-)

    I don't really care too much, though, because it's only a dial-up connection, so the connection is inherently throttled...

    • "You must not maintain or permit multiple concurrent connections to the Internet Access."

      Yes, god forbid I should have multiple concurrent conections to "the internet access". Does that mean I can't read the web while downloading something? Christ, every modern web browser uses at least two concurrent connections to download a page, usually four.

      never recording Your password on Your computer

      What a joke. So they've banned the feature in many web browsers which lets you save (auto-enter) login informati
  • Kinda OT: NAT/PAT (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bios_Hakr (68586) <xptical AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @02:26AM (#5691576) Homepage
    My local ISP just started to roll out DSL. Our current service is 56k dialup limited to 90 hours per month. We pay about $30 for that.

    The new DSL is 1.5mbps "best effort". They have not mentioned any download caps, but they will probably be on the way soon. The worst part of the TOS is the restriction on NAT/PAT.

    They say that they can detect how many computers are on a network. For each computer, you have to pay an additional $60 for the exact same bandwidth. They don't even give you another modem for the extra $60.

    Anyway, how do you think they are detecting NAT/PAT? Is there any way to stop this detection? I had planned on running Gentoo or *BSD as a firewall, but paying more money for the exact same thing seems harsh to me.
    • Re:Kinda OT: NAT/PAT (Score:3, Informative)

      by ender81b (520454)
      To my knowledge there is no way in heck they can detect another computer behind a Nat. It sounds like BS or a scare tactic. Absolutely ridiculous.

      While I on the subject of crappy ISP's I don't understand what is the point of all these conditions. I have friends that work for a fairly large (state-wide), very profitable, ISP that has none of this. Heck they even allow you to resell the service if you so desire. As they say, as long as they make money why should they care? As they see it these restrictive
      • Re:Kinda OT: NAT/PAT (Score:3, Informative)

        by mpe (36238)
        While I on the subject of crappy ISP's I don't understand what is the point of all these conditions.

        At a guess they either employed or retained an overpriced "lawyer" who then has to do something to appear to be useful.
      • Re:Kinda OT: NAT/PAT (Score:4, Informative)

        by pla (258480) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @04:07AM (#5691862) Journal
        To my knowledge there is no way in heck they can detect another computer behind a Nat.

        Well then, you need a knowledge infusion.

        You can detect multiple machines behind a NAT several ways, including IP header parsing, TCP sequencing, and others.


        A loophole in our favor still exists here, though. They can tell that you run multiple OSs, but not multiple distinct machines. So when you get the letter of death, just patiently explain your rather convoluted use of Win2k and Linux under VM, with Basilisk for Win2k allowing you to run Macintosh apps (mention other emulators as needed to account for all machines they may think they know you have). Then wait for the silence at the other end, and make sure they agree to remove whatever absurd charges they apply to your account before they hang up in shame and confusion.
    • Re:Kinda OT: NAT/PAT (Score:5, Informative)

      by lpontiac (173839) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @02:37AM (#5691621)
      Anyway, how do you think they are detecting NAT/PAT? Is there any way to stop this detection?

      It may be due to initial sequence numbers, or possibly the way that a computer responds to IP packets with certain header options set (although I'm not sure if that would be possible when NAT is involved). You could probably get around it by having OpenBSD do the NAT - as it can basically rewrite NATted packets so it looks like it's all coming from the OpenBSD box. The OpenBSD pf firewall is being ported to other BSDs too, apparantly, so you might find you can get it to do the same thing on FreeBSD.

    • Anyway, how do you think they are detecting NAT/PAT?


      Any number of ways. You might note different OS/browser references, or other differences in the way traffic is going from the ISP to you. The problem you face is that I reckon quite a few people will have DSL modems that are also routers. I know I do. And their TOS would seem to preclude this very sensible use of simple tools to protect your computer.


      Find another ISP, if you can.

    • Re:Kinda OT: NAT/PAT (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Technician (215283)
      Terms of service? Um, I don't worry about the TOS. I contact the ISP and let them know what I am going to do. I let them tell me what packages are provided for the service desired. I take bids. It levels the playing field quickly. You can get exceptions written into your TOS. When I was on Dial up, I even got permission to have an ocassional dual connection at no extra charge. I told them due to my work schedule, I may be home during the day while the wife is at work. She may check e-mail while at
      • You can get exceptions written into your TOS.

        When ATTBI was ATT@home, I had a written contract with them that stated, in writing, "static address due to home network." When ATTBI took over, they took away my static address, and basically told me to fuck off.

        So getting it in writing only works if you're willing to pony up the legal fees to file a breach of contract suit. Otherwise, written agreements are no better than a roll of blank toilet paper.
    • Counting NAT'ed hosts [att.com]. It's possible (due to the non-random way most OS's handle the IPid field (NOT sequence numbers) in TCP headers.

      AFAIK OpenBSD has a side-project going to negate this technique. However, i seriously doubt your ISP is actually putting this method into practice - its just too much work.
  • Legality (Score:4, Funny)

    by inaeldi (623679) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @02:26AM (#5691577)
    I've always wondered though, how can companies actually make clicking on an "OK" button legally binding? No witnesses, no signature, nothing. Although the best one I ever saw was "By opening this package, you agree to the terms and conditions contained within."
    • Re:Legality (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770)
      Well it kinda depends. For something like purchased software, no it probably isn't legally binding. It hasn't really been tested in court but my suspicion is that it probably wouldn't stand up. Manufacturers can try and place all kinds of crazy restrictions on stuff you buy but it doesn't work in general (legally speaking) because what's yours is yours.

      Now services are a little different. You aren't actually buying anything, you are just paying for the right to use something owned by someone else. This giv
  • If they claim ownership of the IP, they become instant targets of the RIAA and BSA. They are no longer a communication carrier.
    This could backfire on them.
  • The T&C changes (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    The important bit is that they have said they don't own it, but that...

    you grant to Xtra a perpetual, royalty-free, non-exclusive, irrevocable, unrestricted, worldwide licence to do the following in respect of the Customer Materials:

    • use, copy, sublicence, redistribute, adapt, transmit, publish, delete, edit and/or broadcast, publicly perform or display, and
    • sublicence to any third parties the unrestricted right to exercise any of the rights granted,
  • From my broadband ISPs T&Cs:

    5.6 The Customer warrants that:- 5.6.1 it shall not transmit or receive live audio or video across the Supplier's Network or use the Services for any application which in the Supplier's opinion results in an unreasonable demand on the bandwidth;

    I break these most weekends :(

  • by termos (634980) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @02:29AM (#5691592) Homepage
    I didn't read the TOS, but I used it as toilet paper.
  • Atlanta ISP changes (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lord Bitman (95493) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @02:30AM (#5691595) Homepage
    ISPs change-hands so often here, it's hard to keep up. When my ISP spontaneously became Comcast one month, I asked them to send me a new TOS. They said that their TOS was the same as AT&T's, but have refused to provide them. Am I bound to something they won't give me?
    • Probably. That is what the "we can change these terms with no notice" thing at the bottom means.

      Sigh. Damm lawyers and greedy bastards.
    • More or less, but actually it isn't something to worry overly much about normally. For the most part any sort of service provider can lay out most any terms for their service. If you violate those terms, they can then stop providing service to you. It is, after all, TEHIR service and they can (within legal limits) do with it as they please. However, that is basically ALL they can do, discontinue service. Other than that they have little recourse. It's not like you face jail time for breaking a TOS (unless
      • I'm on Comcast in Pennsylvania. A couple of weeks ago they rolled out a change which happened to cause a major screw-up in my (Comcast owned) cable modem, and really confused my poor little PC due to the fact they hadn't considered all the ramifications of their change. (Exact details: long and boring, and I'm still figuring some of them out, because Comcast won't give me the information.) They pushed it out twice in two days, which meant I had exactly the same problem two mornings in a row.

        When I contacte
  • So basically what they are saying is that I can't even have an opinion. If I really wanted to just get round it then I would either connect via another ISP, unless they are a total monopoly or use a service such as Cotse [cotse.net]

    Rus
  • I posted this [slashdot.org] in the other article - perhaps this should be an Ask /.

    Oh well, here is mine [hickorytech.net].

    All that crappy DMCA stuff was added this Feburary, along with some MAC address (and more?) logger named DHCPatriot (I have a deep-seated hatred for all things named Patriot) from these guys. [fng.net] Anyone know anything about this?

  • Comcast/ATTBI (Score:5, Informative)

    by SuperBanana (662181) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @02:37AM (#5691619)

    Back when they were ATT Broadband, the user agreement said something like:

    -no servers(web, FTP, mail)
    -explicitly bans "discussion boards"(!?)
    -if you have a wireless node, it must be locked down- no access to anyone other than YOU
    -cannot be resold -clauses prohibiting using the connection for offensive/harassing/etc. communications(I guess if I type "shit" here, I just violated that. Oops!)

    ...among other things. It actually explicitly states that it is provided exclusively "an entertainment service", and that the users are "consumers" of that entertainment service. All this, despite the fact that they constantly market it as "Little Suzy can download her homework, Mommy can upload her work files while she's home from the office to watch Little Suzy", etc. They played the 'research for homework' angle incredibly heavily during the back-to-school period.

    The kid's using it for research, Mom's using it for work, in the ads. That's not "entertainment", people. I hope mommy realizes that she's using an "entertainment service" that can go down, and Comcast has zero obligation to take care of it.

    Oh, and AOL just started blocking SMTP connections from all of ATT/Comcast's customer IP ranges, to "fight spam". While yes, some systems get hacked and used as relays, that's easy for Comcast to fix(they can disable the connection instantly) if reported..and AOL also blacklists hosts on their own now; why couldn't they just blacklist systems if they send spam? Nevermind that most spam comes from eastern europe and Asia these days.

    But hey, it's all good. We get to watch incessant commercials with Lance-whatever-his-name-is(the biker) talking about how "when you're a newcomer(comcast just bought att-bi), people expect you to make a name for yourself"...uh, no shit. Meanwhile, comcast had to back down from YET ANOTHER forced domain name change for everyone's email accounts because of the massive uproar(mediaone.net->attbi.com just a year or two ago, and now attbi.com->comcast.net because ATT wanted to keep attbi.com) and we can't get any other high-speed access, because Bell won't sell DSL in areas with cable internet(and what they're selling is overpriced crap anyway- 1mbit/96KBIT(!!!)

    All of this in one of the most technology-rich areas(Eastern MA, 128/495 corridor)...

    • It actually explicitly states that it is provided exclusively "an entertainment service", and that the users are "consumers" of that entertainment service. All this, despite the fact that they constantly market it as "Little Suzy can download her homework, Mommy can upload her work files while she's home from the office to watch Little Suzy", etc. They played the 'research for homework' angle incredibly heavily during the back-to-school Advertising period.

      Here's where things start getting interesting. Sin
  • by discore (80674) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @02:38AM (#5691625) Homepage
    They sure don't. Let's forget about shadey TOS policies like the ones above and talk basic, basic things, like service contracts.

    I have the (mis)fortune of doing tech support for a rather well known, privately owned ISP. It's a cool place, our TOS is totally reasonable and includes thorough mentioning of a 1 year service contract. But why is it 90% of the time I bring up the $300 early-contract-termination fee when someone is cancelling for whatever reason inside of their contract, they start to freak out? I'll tell you why, they didn't read the TOS. They just checked the checkbox without thinking twice.

    Since Sales always tells this to people making phone orders, the vast (99%) majority of these people signed up all online, and never even bothered to look. I sure as hell read my ISP's TOS before I even get one step into the ordering process. I must not be a normal person.

    In conclusion, I can promise you that 70-80% of our users have never read the TOS. I wouldn't be suprised if 40-50% didn't know what TOS meant.
  • by ajs (35943) <ajsNO@SPAMajs.com> on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @02:48AM (#5691657) Homepage Journal
    An interesting take on TOS agreements is AOL's new policy of imposing one on the rest of the Net by rejecting any connection to their MX servers on port 25 (incoming mail) before even negotiating far enough for the client to issue a greeting IF you are coming from an IP address that AOL considers to to be "dynamically assigned" (I have no idea how they define this, since my host is not in the MAPS DUL or any other blacklist I can find, and AOL's "tester" page refuses to tell me what they think is the problem because they want to reverse-map my IP and send a report to that domain, rather than by connecting to the IP itself or showing me the results on a Web page).

    This effectively means that no broadband, dialup or other ISP customers who get an IP address when they connect will be able to send mail directly to AOL, you wil instead be forced to use your ISPs or some other willing SMTP relay which AOL considers to be worthy of peering with. No more end-to-end TLS encryption and/or verification; no more routing around overburdoned ISP mail hubs.

    There is as yet no indication that I've seen one way or the other on what they're doing about DELIVERING mail to such addresses, but if you run your own mail server, be prepared to find that AOL.com no longer exists (which you may not consider "bad", exactly, and in fact I currenly have no plans to route around this particular damage other than to get my relatives to find new ISPs, even if that means going to MSN... *shudder*).

    Many have made the argument that this is reasonable for AOL to do because many ISPs have TOSes that ban servers. So far, the standard retort has been 1) no ISP bans direct-to-MX transmission of mail except where it is spam 2) most ISPs don't enforce said rule (and tacitly encourage users to roll their own) 3) not ALL ISPs have such restrictive TOSes, and of course 4) that's none of AOL's business when receiving an incoming message.

    For those who are interested in details, here's the almost useless blurb I get when telneting to port 25 on any random AOL MX host:
    550-The IP address you are using to connect to AOL is either open to
    550-the free relaying of e-mail, is serving as an open proxy, or is a
    550-dynamic (residential) IP address. AOL cannot accept further e-mail
    550-transactions from your server until either your server is closed to
    550-free relaying/proxy, or your ISP removes your IP address from their
    550-list of dynamic IP addresses. For additional information,
    550-please visit http://postmaster.info.aol.com.
    550 Goodbye
    Good luck!
    • I think we can file this under the "Good intentions, bad implementation" section of history. We all know the DMCA was meant as a good intentioned law for piracy/IP protection (reasonable that they can protect their IP I say, within reason...), but the implementation was truly shitty. It's pretty obvious this is a swat at spam, which is a good thing in senses, but bad in the sense that it blocks legitimate email in many cases without a chance of the affected individual having a way of getting their IP move
    • > For those who are interested in details, here's the almost useless blurb I get when telneting to port 25 on any random AOL MX host:

      Considering that 75% of my email every day is spam, and considering that about 90% of that spam is from clueless fucking idiots on DSL or cable modems who can't secure their fucking proxies (or who are deliberately leaving them open for $10/month from some fucking spambag), tough tittie.

      Don't like being lumped in with those fuckwits? Take it up with your ISP. Because

  • by PhilHibbs (4537) <snarks@gmail.com> on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @02:49AM (#5691662) Homepage Journal
    If I upload someone else's data, I have no right to grant the ISP the rights that they claim, therefore they don't have those rights. What I'm unsure about, however, is whether their terms of service prohibit me from posting material that I do not have the right to grant rights over. If so, then I probably can't post any GPL'd software. Let's look.

    Hmmm, this is interesting:
    You agree that all content, software, personal identifiers (including addresses) and anything else we make available to you in connection with our Services (together "Works") are protected by copyright, trade marks and other intellectual property rights and laws.
    So no posting Project Gutenberg texts, then. Taken literally, anything I post has to be trademarked.
    You warrant that you will not:
    • license, assign, otherwise transfer, make available or grant any interest in any part of the Works to any other person
    So, no GPL'd software that I wrote then, but presumably other peoples' GPL'd software is ok.
    Xtra does not claim ownership of any content or material you provide or make available through the Services ("Customer Material"). However, by placing any Customer Material on our Websites or Systems (including posting messages, uploading files, importing data or engaging in any other form of communication), you grant to Xtra a perpetual, royalty-free, non-exclusive, irrevocable, unrestricted, worldwide licence to do the following in respect of the Customer Materials:
    • use, copy, sublicence, redistribute, adapt, transmit, publish, delete, edit and/or broadcast, publicly perform or display, and
    • sublicence to any third parties the unrestricted right to exercise any of the rights granted,
    in each case for the limited purposes for which you provided or made the Customer Materials available or to enable us and our suppliers to provide the Services.
    Seems reasonable, they need the right to distribute the data, they might want to keep an archive, and they might want to sell that archive as an asset. Note the limiting nature of the last paragraph.

    IMO, there's nothing sinister here, although the first section I quoted is just incompetently written.
  • I have used and been 100% happy with my isp APK.net for the last decade. If you are in N.E. Ohio I highly recomend them. There aren't any really bad clauses in their TOS which can be viewed Here [apk.net]. The only things I don't like is the no lan clause (actually this is only in the dialup TOS and is kind of bunk because the owner specifically recomends a NAT'ing firewall for DSL service so I doubt it's ever been enforced), and the account placed on hold for a no-hangup program clause which again I have never heard
  • by Alioth (221270) <no@spam> on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @02:58AM (#5691692) Journal
    The thing about 'no derogatory comments about our service' is nothing new - in the mid to late 1980s, Micronet (and Prestel), an online service in Britain, also had the same thing. And they did threaten to kick off a friend of mine for complaining about Micronet in one of the message boards.

    Their AUP also didn't allow any kind of profanity in the message boards, either!

    They did have some good things (such as Shades the MUD, which is *still going* - telnet games.world.co.uk, yes, it's on port 23).

    That's not to say it's right. The "you must only say good things about us" clause was incredibly dumb, and people often pushed at them, just to see how far they could go.
  • by ottffssent (18387) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @02:59AM (#5691696)
    In fact, some I'm downright thrilled with.

    Like ones that come in text boxes that you can edit.

    Such as the agreement with ATI I cheerfully clicked my agreement to. When I was done with it, it said "In appreciation for downloading this driver suite, ATI inc. will send me one (1) riding pony in good health and standing in the equine community."

    They've since changed the format, but I still don't have my pony.
  • 'Free speech' is a thing of the past.

    Don't believe me? Ask the Dixie Chicks...or Henry Norr. [bayarea.com]
    • Go to Speaker's Corner in Hyde Park, London... You can give a speech there for free!!! and you can listen to one for free!!!

      On a more serious note, Speaker's Corner is really the historic start of free speech as British people have been legally allowed to get up at Speaker's Corner and say what they like for centuries, long before America was was even an idea.
    • Don't believe me? Ask the Dixie Chicks


      I must have missed the part where they were arrested for expressing their views.

  • Legal hacking (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NoBlock (601522) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @04:11AM (#5691874)

    Just read the TOS for my ISP again and was reminded why I chose this ISP [xs4all.nl] (even though it is not the cheapest available). One of the clauses says (roughly translated):

    All customers are
    allowed to hack the system. The first custormer that manages to get 'root' status will receive 6 months free use of the system. In return customer will explain how the system was hacked. Customers will take pains not to damage the system. Customers hereby give other customers to hack the system.

    I feel that this should be a standard clause in any ISP's TOS.

    • heh? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by lingqi (577227) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @05:14AM (#5692021) Journal
      I can't imagine that's something you can do because allowing bad things to happen is just kind of dumb.

      I mean I understand their point - that a benevolent hacking dude will hack the system, gleefully take the 6 monthes of free use, and tell them their security hole.

      But in reality, what people in their right mind would do that? I mean, assuming: The hacker was benevolent and wanted the 6 monthes. If you hacked the system - you have unlimited, forever usage of the system, hence the word "0wnz," I believe?

      If you are hacking with malevolent intentions, even less will there be a chance of you telling them what happened - and you will just, again, keep making use of the system to send out spam or look through your ex-gf's email or something.

      The only thing that I can imagine is bragging rights - but really who would you brag to? the trade off is "bragging rights to your friends + unlimited free use, forever (or, for a long ass time)" vs "bragging rights to your friends and your ISP + 6 monthes free use + ISP will probably forever look at you with extra caution." I really don't think the latter is worth it.

      By doing this you are (I think) voiding your rights of prosecution. It's like saying to people "Yeah if you can jack my lambo with its whiz-bang security system and I'll let you drive it around for half a day if you tell me how you jacked it." Are you nuts? If I go through the pains of jacking the car, you bet your butt you ain't getting it back. (The analogy works better if you imagine that the car-thief was only taking the car out at nights to pick up chicks or something - why would you give up that privledge for a chance to drive it for 6 hours during the day?)
      • Re:heh? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Montreal Geek (620791) <marc&uberbox,org> on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @11:59AM (#5693806) Homepage Journal
        But in reality, what people in their right mind would do that? I mean, assuming: The hacker was benevolent and wanted the 6 monthes. If you hacked the system - you have unlimited, forever usage of the system, hence the word "0wnz," I believe?

        Once upon a time (a couple of years ago) I was sysadmin for a smallish ISP up here in Montreal. While out TOS didn't spell it out, it was my policy as well. (I was blessed with intelligent bosses/owners that decided from the onset that given that I was the security, its enforcement should be left to me).

        There have been a total of two compromises during the two years I worked there. Both were detected by my diagnostics within minutes. I let both play out to ascertain the intent and method, and one of the crackers was obviously a white hat given that noticing me on the box he talked me to tell me how he got in. The other was a silly warez d00d-- took me about 5 minutes to detect how he got in.

        In both cases, I restored offline, plugged the hole, then put the system back up.

        Having compromised a system does not give you "forever usage of the system".

        Just before I started work there, where was another (major) compromise of the entirety of the DMZ-- the security wasn't set up very well and each box trusted every other box. That took a complete redesign of the infrastructure, but it was also fixed. By the white hat that broke in and went to them with "Look. Obviously you need to hire a sysadmin."

        You get to guess who that was.

        Not everyone is a script kiddie, you know.

        -- MG

  • Westhost looks okay (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Quila (201335) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @04:12AM (#5691875)
    This made my check my hosting service since I haven't looked in a few years. Clear terms:
    • Don't hack the servers or gain unauthorized access to accounts
    • No originating spam
    • No running chats without approval
    • Allows background scripts and self-written CGI as long as they don't screw with the system
    • If your scripts are resource hogs, they may ask you to upgrade your service
    • No IRC or IRC bots
    • No illegal stuff
    • No porn/obscene, etc.
    There is the phrase "or any other material which we deem to be objectionable" to include Satanic materials. However, that's a catch-all that I don't believe has been used. I'll ask.
  • They should have waited until they had a monopoly on NZ before pulling this.

    Bad, bad, bad strategy.
  • by chrysalis (50680) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @04:24AM (#5691904) Homepage
    Indeed, I never read TOS.

    But I really enjoyed my ISP. Fast, reliable, not that expensive, and my IP address didn't change as long as the gateway renewed the lease.

    But one day, friends using the same ISP told me that all their incoming connections got firewalled. They couldn't connect to their host any more, even through POP, SMTP or SSH.

    I checked it, and they were right. The ISP firewalled everything without any prior notice.

    A look at the TOS revealed that indeed, customers don't have the right to host any server. No SSH, no SMTP, nothing.

    I moved to another ISP since. The new ISP is a bit more expensive, but that's the price to pay to read in their TOS that servers are allowed, and NAT is allowed as well.

  • by wrero (314883) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @06:35AM (#5692211)
    I own a small software company; the license agreement to use our software is about 25 pages long. It isn't off-the-shelf software, I won't bore you with the specifics, but it is niche market, mission critical software that really does need a lengthy agreement. I should also mention that the licensees *always* have their lawyers involved in the negotiation, it's not inexpensive software.

    At any rate, I have found that when you ask your attorney to write up an agreement for such-and-such, they will invariably write a very one-sided agreement, they will want the other party to sign their life away. After we have verbally come to terms with a new customer, our attorney writes up a license agreement, and more often than not he has put in major restrictions and terms which were not part of our verbal terms with the new customer - we then have to "send it back" to have our attorney remove restrictions which really are excessive.

    Before you say that our attorney is just trying to take more time and bill us more: he really isn't - he is just attempting to watch our back in every way he can.

    The flip side is also true, when a customer's attorney writes up the agreement, it invariably claims that the customer has exclusive, unlimited, rights to our software. It says that if they [the customer] stubs their toe after installing the software we are liable for millions of dollars. It says we cannot license our software to anyone else [as the customer "owns" it now], etc., etc.

    Needless to say, we won't sign such an agreement.

    In a nutshell, when attorneys write up any sort of legal document, they really do try to protect their customer in every way they can, and more often than not they go overboard. It really (imho) isn't their job to "see it from the other side", and hence the one-sided agreements.

    When you are negotiating an agreement and both sides are represented by council, usually a fair agreement comes out in the end - but when only one side is represented, you can get "terms of service" as that ISP has published.

    I suspect that the "fair" terms of service we do frequently see and agree to have been either not written by an attorney, and/or have had someone (but probably not the attorney) playing the role of the customer and looking at the agreement from their point of view.

    Evidently, that didn't happen in this case.

    An interesting, off-topic, side note that an attorney once told me: If there is a grey area in a contract, usually a court will side with the party that DIDN'T author the contract.
    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @07:49AM (#5692465)
      The objection with normal software liscences that are like this is that there is no negoation. They sell you software, without disclosing any sort of agreement a priori, and tehn expect you to accept it, without any sort of legal negoation or signing taking place. This would be akin to buying a TV, opening the box, and finding a document that prohibited you from doing all sorts of things such as watching certian channels.

      So it would seem they have legality problems in several areas:

      1) There is no room for negotiation. You buy something and are then told you must agree to certian terms, even though you already bought it. Real contracts have to be negotiated beforehand. This would be like renting an apartment, and only being informed of the lease terms AFTER already paying for it.

      2) There is no actual signature. Real contracts HAVE to be signed, and they have to be signed by an adult. There is no singature with a softwre click-thru liscence, and it can be clicked by a minor, who may not legally enter into a binding contract. Thus, it is hard to call a real contract.

      3) It's a huge legal contract for a small-ticket item. I mean the average EULA is about 3x as long as my lease agreement. There is something really wrong with that. How can it be that a $40-$50 consumer item, that is no different on a fundimental level than a toaster or the like that we buy every day with no contract at all, require more legalese than renting a dwelling costing near $1000 each month? It seems absurd that a person would be required to reand, understand and agree to a multi page document for a trivial good. Imagine if ALL good tried to do that.

      This is all an aisde to the main sotry, really, since that is about services, which have really different rules than goods. A terms of service agreement isn't really a contract, it's a mandidate. You are telling your customers that if they want to use your service, this is how it is going to be. If they don't like it, they are free to not use your service.
  • by fixion (38352) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @09:21AM (#5692981)
    See http://www.osdn.com/terms.shtml [osdn.com], the TOS for OSDN, the parent company that hosts Slashdot:
    With respect to text or data entered into and stored by publicly-accessible site features such as forums, comments and bug trackers ("OSDN Public Content"), the submitting user retains ownership of such OSDN Public Content; with respect to publicly-available statistical content which is generated by the site to monitor and display content activity, such content is owned by OSDN. In each such case, the submitting user grants OSDN the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive, transferable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, and display such Content (in whole or part) worldwide and/or to incorporate it in other works in any form, media, or technology now known or later developed, all subject to the terms of any applicable license.
    Sigh. This issues comes up every few months when someone actually reads the TOS. The OSDN language above is nearly identical to that of the New Zealand ISP as well as every TOS in existence.

    It's standard legal language to protect the service provider from idiots who want to sue them because "you, my ISP, made copies of my copyrighted web page available to everyone via the Internet!!!"

    Duh. That's what a service provider is supposed to do, but they have to include the kind of legal disclaimer above to protect themselves from litigious idiots.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @09:43AM (#5693116)
    Here's my story. [bewellweb.com]
    The page in question [bewellweb.com].
  • Aardvark Sponsor (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jesterzog (189797) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @04:13PM (#5696313) Homepage Journal

    It's probably worth pointing out that Aardvark Daily [aardvark.co.nz], the "news and commentary site" being linked to by slashdot, is sponsored by Ihug [ihug.co.nz] -- a rival ISP here in New Zealand. It's hardly an independant media source.

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