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United States

Supreme Court Rules ISPs Not Liable for E-mail Content 84

Posted by Hemos
from the well-duh dept.
dan of the north was the first to write in with the Supreme Court Ruling outcome that ruled that ISPs (in this case, Prodigy), are not liable for the content of e-mail messages sent through them. The details of the circumstance are availible in the above link. Yes, this was a big "duh", but it's good to see this stand.
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Supreme Court Rules ISPs Not Liable for E-mail Content

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  • Your arguement falls apart.
    If in the first case that happens, you have a legitimate beef. No one has said that it is wrong.

    in the second example, ISP's routinely drop abusive users from their systems. (thats how this guy in this case found out about this in the first place). I don't see how an ISP would know it is doing wrong until the perpetrator does wrong. Prodigy did nothing wrong in this case, the imposter did, and it would be wrong to hold prodigy accountable when prodigy was lied to.
  • You may have noticed a slight stinging sensation in the corner of your mouth. If you gently touch the affected area, you will find a curved, barbed piece of metal embedded there. Attached to it is a length of nylon fiber.

    This is a sign to you that you have been trolled. Remove the hook (which is not mine), go forth, and be a fish no more.

  • The supreme court has jurisdiction over every conceivable piece of law in the country

    Not in my country. But email from your country can, and quite possibly spam. A new breed of legally protected spam.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    The article briefly explains that someone posing as Alexander Lunney sent threatening e-mail from Prodigy, and that Prodigy (and by implication all ISPs) is not liable for the content of that e-mail. That's great, but it seems that Prodigy should have been liable to Lunney for their participation in the imposture.

    Ah, but does Prodigy control what your From: header reads? Does your phone company control what caller ID reports for your phone number?

    The From: header is set by the person making the post. Yes, I suppose it is possible for the news/mail server to replace it with what their records say, but it would rely on some form of authenticating the user, and many mail clients don't support authenticating SMTP servers.

    What displays on caller ID is controlled by the phone company, with the exception that you can block it completly when making a call.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    My great-great-great-great-...-great-grandfather was OOG THE CAVEMAN, who practically invented ones and zeros. With this genetic heritage (shall we say "master race"?), I'm pulling down the big bucks as an AS/400 systems programmer.

    Thank you OOOG.
  • CLose enough: I believe they currently run long, thin needles through packages and let the dogs sniff the needles for drug scents... Send everything FedEx overnight in a puncture resistant... uh jar of peanut butter?
  • Are YOU kidding? Are we talking about the US Supreme Court here? The US Supreme Court is a court of limited jurisdiction. It can only hear the "cases and controversies" which it has been empowered to hear by the Constitution. Generally, the US Supreme (and the inferior federal courts) can only hear actions relating to the following (this is right out of Article 2 of the Constitution, PLEASE read it and the Judiciary Act before commenting on this):
    All cases in law and equity:
    - arising under the Consitution,
    - the Laws of the United States (these are federal laws, not laws of each of the several states),
    - and Treaties made under the foregoing,
    - all cases affecting Ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls,
    - all cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction,
    - all controversies to which the United States (again, this is the whole federal government, not an action in which an individual state is a party, unless...),
    - to controversies between two or more states
    - between a state and citizens of another state (this reference to "another state" means another one of the united states, e.g., New York, not France)
    - between citizens of different states (e.g., New Yorker v. New Jerseyan, not New Yorker v. Frenchy or French v. Brit for that matter)
    - between citizens of the same state claiming lands under grants of different states (almost completely irrelevant these days)
    - between a State or the citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or subjects.

    The Judiciary Act adds a few things and various statutes and other parts of the constitution add other capabilities, but to say that the US Supreme Court is the "final arbiters of all law" is grossly misleading. Unless there is an aspect of a case that brings you within the jurisidiction of the Court, they are not going to hear it and they certainly DO NOT "have the power to strike down and/or interpret any law or legal decision whatsoever." Any first-year law student who has taken Constitutional law can tick off half a dozen cases in US History carving out the scope of Supreme Court jurisdiction.

    For example, the US Supreme Court will not review a state law having to do with fines for scooping up your dog's crap off the sidewalk _unless_ you can come up with some sort of constitutional reason for them to hear it (e.g., the fine is so excessive as to be cruel & unusual, dogshit on the sidewalk is your way of expressing free speech). This is not because the case is trivial (which my example clearly is), but because the court simply has no authority to review laws which are not within its ENUMERATED POWERS (buzzword alert).

    At various points in the past 225+ odd years the court has been more and less active in expanding its jurisdiction, but at no time has it ever even come close to the power to which it has been attributed in the post to which I'm replying.

    And it's really not clear what is meant by "law"... Ever heard of the Miranda doctrine? It's a rather hot topic right now, because, as happens all the time in common law countries such as the US, it is law created by the courts. Part of any legal framework in which courts are allowed to interpret statutes and those interpretations are both binding and published is that doctrine (a/k/a "law") arises through judicial construction. The importance of publication is that it allows for review and reliance upon the decision by later parties. In fact, most statutes are intentionally drafted in such a manner that allows the court to refine the "law" within the constraints of its jurisdictions. Yes, courts cannot draft statutes but they absolutely, unequivocally DO create law.

    As far as the original message goes, I believe the comment was talking about "original" jurisdiction which means something specific which was also clearly missed in the previous message. The Supreme Court only has original jurisdiction over:
    Cases affecting ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be a Party (of the cases listed above).
    This is right out of Article 3 Section 2 of the Constitution. Over everything else the Supreme Court's jurisdiction is appellate. As in, "there must be a trial first." This has been narrowed a bit in the past two centuries, by the way.

    Just trying to clear up a few things.
  • Legally, I don't want Prodigy liable if somebody abuses their services to harm another.

    But ethically, I think Prodigy has a corporate obligation--perhaps deriving from a cybervariant of environmentalism--to:

    A) Investigate when one of their members is polluting the shared pool of trust that the Internet mostly operates upon.

    B) Willingly cooperate--and provide additional forensic analysis--when it is clear that somebody's been hurt and they're one of the only organizations that has the capability to find out by whom.

    C) *NOT* go overboard and install loggers that make it simple to track down anybody at anytime, privacy be damned. Makes it easy to track down offenders; makes it *too* easy.

    Look, we get angry when corporations act like senseless, ethicless fools because That's Not Their Mandate. Source filtering, as a means of shielding against DDoS attacks, only shields the victims--those whose networks are being used to victimize are rarely tapped to the point where they notice failures. *Legally*, I don't want a company liable because a cracker broke in and added .5% to the flow of bad data. *Ethically*, the environment of the net *needs* the kind of distributed responsibility that source filtering applies.

    I'm saying this, incidentally, knowing that source port filtering removes some extremely useful tactics for speeding up net connections on asymmetric links(Link 2 forges the source port of Link 1; Link 1 picks up all return traffic but that's ok because return traffic comes in far faster). But the harm that not source filtering allows--even if it shouldn't be a legal issue if you've accidentally left it open--outweighs the gains for people like me.

    Yours Truly,

    Dan Kaminsky
    DoxPara Research
    http://www.doxpara.com
  • by arcade (16638) on Monday May 01, 2000 @09:29PM (#1099160) Homepage
    >After investigating, Prodigy canceled the accounts, but was unable to identify the impostor.

    Maybe I'm on drugs here, but this sounds like a pretty serious problem to me, when an ISP cannot figure out who is using their own service! Based on the facts as I know them, I think Prodigy should have been held liable for this, since they obviously didn't have some way to verify the identities of their users.

    Why? Why on earth should they be able to verify the identities of their users? Should hotmail be able to verify the identity of every single hotmail-account owner?

    At the best, prodigy can track down the phone number of the person who dialed in - if they are a dialup service. What does that give them? NADA. I'm not sure how prodigy services works, but if it works the same way as some norwegian ISP's, then someone could've signed up by going to certain webpages, and "signed up" for a free account. Furthermore, you can sign up when bouncing via a proxy .. say .. a netbus infected person.

    It takes no skill to bounce via some totally anonymous bouncers (netbus infected people, people with non-logging wingates running, and so forth).

    That prodigy couldn't identify them .. well, its no surprise to me.


    --
    "Rune Kristian Viken" - arcade@kvine-nospam.sdal.com - arcade@efnet
  • That was Spamford, a few years back, after he'd been blasted off every other ISP. He failed miserably. Being an "ISP" is no good is you can't connect to any other ISP and all your customers are spammers, not spammees. AGIS tolerated him longer than most of his service providers did, and nearly died from the ensuing boycotts and flame wars. (They're gone now.) He and the Cantor&Siegel Green Card Spam Lawyers pretty much invented spamming as an internet industry; he'd also been a major player in fax spam before that.
  • Not quite: the latest case arose from the fact that the Pink Paper's lawyers told Netbenefit that they'd be held responsible for any potential defamations at unspecified times in the future on the Outcast site. So Netbenefit wanted a signed undertaking from Outcast to the effect that they would never, ever, publish anything considered defamatory on their site: on a three-hour deadline. Which Outcast's lawyers advised them not to sign, as it's a ridiculous restriction. So the site went down.

    After Demon were left having to splash out £1/4m, would you want to be the next ISP to test the law? So the practice is always going to be much more extreme than the letter of the law.
  • example 1

    The person who has his account stolen is the one who should be held liable - by the ISP - for gross negligence. He got his account stolen - he is the negligent one. Put the blame where it belongs.

    example 2

    The ISP should not ble held responsible by authorities. But, we've got some wonderful folks at MAPS .. :) They make sure that ISP's install spamfilters. Or their mailservers get blocked.


    --
    "Rune Kristian Viken" - arcade@kvine-nospam.sdal.com - arcade@efnet
  • Let's hope that our judges in the UK can show as much sense as their American cousins in future.
  • I believe they currently run long, thin needles through packages and let the dogs sniff the needles for drug scents...

    So don't send condoms through the post or buy them mail-order...

  • Consider, first and foremost, web pages have been ruled "publications" under the law. This means that some of the liability laws which apply to more traditional forms of publication also apply to WWW publishing.

    I'm not so sure that works. Think about it. Let's say you find an libelous article in the newspaper about you one day. Who do you charge with libel? Do you sue the company that made the paper the news was printed on? No; you sue the people who made the content. Likewise, you shouldn't be holding the ones who simply provide the medium; you have to go to the ones who created the content. And that is not, by and large, the ISP's.

    If the newspaper publishes information, it is obligated to either publish a retraction upon a libel or slander challenge or back the columnist. If they choose to back the columnist, they usually become party to the lawsuit for publishing the information.

    A newspaper does, not the company that provides the periodical with paper.

    Likewise, if an ISP receives information about a hosted site that is considered libelous or slandering, they have to make a choice whether or not to continue "publishing" the site, or removing it from circulation, i.e. blocking access or removing it from the server(s).

    This may be the law, but it's simply wrong. An ISP cannot reasonably be expected to control Internet users (AOL is different because its proprietary system is self-contained, but even its Internet portions cannot reasonably be expected to be controlled). There are simply too many random variables. A paper company cannot choose what is printed on its products, so why should an ISP have to try and choose what is "printed" on its media? All an ISP does does is provide the means to publish; the publishing is still done more or less entirely by the user owning the Website. So only the Website owner should be liable, not the ISP.
  • Maybe I'm on drugs here, but this sounds like a pretty serious problem to me, when an ISP cannot figure out who is using their own service! Based on the facts as I know them, I think Prodigy should have been held liable for this, since they obviously didn't have some way to verify the identities of their users.

    Whether Prodigy could or could not identify the user is irrelevant. Prodigy did NOT author those messages. How is it that Prodigy (or anyone) could be held responsible for someone else's crimes?

  • 1) This has got nothing to do with security. It simply states that the ISP is not responsible for the content of email. This is not related to security. While they are not responsible for the content of the email sent from a comprimised account, I would assume that they are still responsible for the hole that allowed the account to be comprimised. If not, well, maybe someone needs to bring a lawsuit up, but that's a whole other issue.

    2) SPAM, well, SPAM is SPAM I guess, but I find that by protecting your email address, you don't get a lot. I have been surfing for 6'ish years, total of maybe 5 SPAM messages (not including stupid friends that forward chain-letters).

    It is a good thing that they are not responsible for email content, look at demon in the UK, that whole libel thing. I believe that an ISP IS a common carrier and they should be treated as such.

  • what if you're a Prodigy member with a name, circle of friends, credit card info, etc in your account. now lets say that someone somehow steals your account, has access to your credit card info, says damaging things to your circle of contacts, makes threatening emails to people, and all in your name. Shouldn't the ISP, in this case Prodigy, be held liable due to gross negligence in protecting the security of their network?

    The case was not about negligence. The case was whether or not Prodigy has a responsibility to control the content over which it has little or no control. Presumbaly if they were grossly negligent, as in your example, then this ruling would not apply.

    example 2:
    all that damn spam mail... now I'm getting tons and tons of spam mail from legit servers such as excite.com and yahoo.com and hotmail.com... it's going to a mailbox that I don't often use, but same principle applies. Shouldn't these ISP's and large companies be responsible for the information being sent through their network?

    Check the Terms of Service. If you don't like 'em, vote with your feet. Take responsibility for yourself.

    ----
    Wind and temp at my house [halcyon.com]

  • In your post, you stated that "Now the courts need to learn that this ought to apply to Websites too."

    My opinion (non-lawyer) is that this is only partway true for several reasons, which are important to consider before making a blanket statement like the one above. Consider, first and foremost, web pages have been ruled "publications" under the law. This means that some of the liability laws which apply to more traditional forms of publication also apply to WWW publishing.

    Let's consider the three ways an ISP can manage information flow to and from the WWW. The way I see it there are three cases, which I will offer opinions on, a person or company is acting as an ISP and:

    (a) has a website or web sites of its own? I think that we would agree that the owned sites would be subject to libel and slander laws.

    (b) access to the offending sites is via the Internet connections owned by the ISP, but the sites are hosted elsewhere. I think that we would also agree that in this case the ISP should be accorded common carrier status - it's just a transmission.


    It's the third case (c)is the heart and soul of the battle (IMHO). If my reading of current law and decisions is correct, right now a hosted web site is much the same as a column in a newspaper. If the newspaper publishes information, it is obligated to either publish a retraction upon a libel or slander challenge or back the columnist. If they choose to back the columnist, they usually become party to the lawsuit for publishing the information. Likewise, if an ISP receives information about a hosted site that is considered libelous or slandering, they have to make a choice whether or not to continue "publishing" the site, or removing it from circulation, i.e. blocking access or removing it from the server(s).

    Am I missing anything here?

  • The news story here clearly falsifies the main premise of Slashdot's claim -- the Supreme Court hasn't "ruled" on anything here. All it has done is decided not to accept an appeal. That is a *vastly* different thing than the Supreme Court taking up a case and then making a ruling on some point of law.
  • I dont know about patent law, but your right, The supreme court has the right to interpret any law as they see fit, of course they have to take into account precedent. The big difference in the US as compared to other places, (in example Quebec, canada) thats where I live and studied Paralegal Tech., the big difference is Common Law relies heavily on Jurisprudence which is precedent. Meaning, the supreme court CAN make law, if they see fit to do so, decisions they make have to be upheld in the lower courts. Thats why precedent is so important in the US and canada, because they use common law. In quebec, we use Napoleon law, where jurisprudence ONLY is usefull for determining the higher courts interpretation of the law, and not their decisions. Meaning, the higher courts CANNOT make a decision that bypasses a law, they HAVE to respect the law. In common law you CAN decide the law shouldnt fit in a certain situation and render a verdict not in accordance with the law, in which case you set precedent. This is an oversimplificated explanation, but a true one nonetheless. I guess this is off topic, so moderate all you wish!!!
  • What does this mean about commercial bulk email companies that create their own ISP? I remember a big controversy over one guy (in New York??) who got kicked off every single major ISP in his area, so he was going to create his own ISP. The entire purpose of this ISP being to offer accounts to spammers. Why shouldn't this ISP be liable for it's email, since is specifically sets out to send spam? Even if this guy had no clients, and he was the sole client of his ISP, shouldn't it still be liable? I can't remember the name of this ISP. Someone wanna help me out?
  • Frivilous Lawsuit.



    Seriously. This guy, rather than sue the guy that masqueraded as him, sues the ISP. PUHLEESE.



    This is like sueing mastercard for a fraudulent charge. COME ON!



    The facts of this case.



    This guy (who is not a prodigy user) gets an email from prodigy, who says that because of his aberrant activities is being cut off from the service.



    This is the way that things should be. if someone is being abusive, and someone contacts his ISP about it, they have every right to suspend his service. In this case however, this was an account based on fraudulent info.



    The service discovers that they have 'several' accounts for this guys imposter.



    Who is a victim in this:


    the guy who has had his name smeared. (obviously)


    Prodigy (for varied fraud from this imposter)



    In this case it sounds like a case of kill the messenger.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I don't see the connection you're trying to make:

    If due to the negligence of the ISP, your account and your personal information (credit card numbers etc.) end up in the hands of somebody else, that is a totally different problem than the contents of some e-mails. We're talking about totally different things. First of all, the person who stole your information is the one who has committed the crime, the ISP hasn't done anything unless the ISP has neglected to use sufficient protection that is required by law to protect your personal information. I agree, the ISPs should be required to protect your data but we're still talking about a different problem than holding ISP responsible for the contents of the e-mails passing through the system.

    Spam: Now, who is the person who has committed the offence/crime: the spammer or your ISP? I don't want my ISP to scan my e-mails to "protect" me from spammers, even if they respect my privacy. That is not a good solution. Even though there are some spam e-mails whose contents are sufficiently "known" that you could distinguish them from legitimate mails, I still don't want my ISP to do that (well, I don't get that much spam anyway, but I don't live in the USA), and I don't really see how they could be held liable unless they also would be required to scan all the e-mails passing through their system.

    There are better ways to accomplish what you want than holding ISPs liable for the contents of the e-mails.
  • For example, the US Supreme Court will not review a state law having to do with fines for scooping up your dog's crap off the sidewalk unless you can come up with some sort of constitutional reason for them to hear it (e.g., the fine is so excessive as to be cruel & unusual, dogshit on the sidewalk is your way of expressing free speech). This is not because the case is trivial (which my example clearly is), but because the court simply has no authority to review laws which are not within its ENUMERATED POWERS (buzzword alert).

    That unless says it all. The Supreme Court can review any law for constitutionality. They can and will refuse to review a case if they do not feel there is a legitimate constitutional challenge to the law. They can and do refuse to hear cases if they feel that the lower courts have made the correct ruling in regards to constitutionality. Neither the Supreme Court nor any other court can invalidate a law willy nilly. They can only rule that a law is unconstitutional. (State courts can review laws for compliance with state constitutions, of course.)

    If you can come up with an example of a law which does not fall within their ENUMERATED POWERS as regards to constitutionality, please post it here. Otherwise, it seems to me that the Supreme Court IS the final arbitrater of all US laws.

  • The US Supreme Court seems to be bang on with this one, I do wonder about a few things though.

    I'm not sure about the details of this case, but suppose someone out to get this Lunney chap decided to hack into his web-page, mail account, etc., exploiting a bug for which fixes are readily available, but not installed. Could Prodigy be found guilty of negligence in such a case?

    Have scenarios such as that one been tested?

    Any thoughts?

  • Most ISPs require you to agree to the terms they set. These usually state that you may not to naughty things (like sending spam and insult people). They also say that the ISP can remove your account whenever they want without giving a reason.

    This seems like good enough "protection" for the user, the ISP, and the Internet as a whole.
  • um, you're like mr sound and fury, but you're not hearing the simplified point i was making.

    The supreme court IS the final court of appeal in ALL cases. The whole technical discussion of jurisdiction, etc., big fscking deal...the point is, if it makes it through the judicial channels, they can hear it and decide on it.

    If they choose not to, that is a different matter. But, you are correct in your statement that they DON'T review everything, and are very conservative about the choices they make. But their jurisdiction, while delineated by the constitution and applicable law, is nonetheless immense and comprehensive. They CAN hear any case they choose to that arrives at their door.

    I know you're impressed with all your little book-learnin', but try living in reality for a few minutes...the Supreme Court IS the final arbiter of all disputes in this country one way or another, although they have historically limited their own jurisdiction through the exercise of due prudence.


    --
  • by ca1v1n (135902) <snook AT guanotronic DOT com> on Monday May 01, 2000 @01:30PM (#1099180)
    Anyone remember the case about how the Nazis wanted to march in Skokie, Illinois? The Supreme Court didn't hear that case, either. They allowed the lower court decision to stand, effectively meaning that it only had a binding precedent in the federal circuit where the lower court case had been decided. The real effect was nationwide, however, as cities and states crafted their new laws to conform to this standard, which the supreme court had not ruled on one way or the other. The concept that "silence gives consent" is in full force in the mind of the people and politicians.

  • Or, from the UK point of view (the Demon / Godfrey case):

    * The ISP is not liable for any content passed through them, but not "published" or otherwise owned by them unless:

    1. They are informed that the content is offensive / libelous (sp?) or otherwise daft.

    2. They then refuse to remove it.

    This is the whole "cease and desist" nonsense.

    Where is the problem? Obviously, in the ISP's response - the actual case law seems to be sensible (on both sides of the Atlantic.) If I post an objectionable USENET or /. message, all the content provider needs to do is remove that one post. Fine.

    What actually happens - for the one duff message, the entire site is normally taken down. Solution?

    Proposition: more common sense, fewer law suits. (Don't see it happening, myself.)
  • it would not take a large leap of logic to say that Napster is offering a similar service (facilitating the exchange of data, routing information, whatnot) to an e-mail server, and thus would also not be held responsible for illegal files sent over it's wires, or even information about where to find illegal files, communicated over its' wires...

    I can send an MP3 file via email; and can give the IP number and login of a MP3 hotline server in an email, too

    hmm. would be nice to see thing move in the right direction in other cases as well...


    adrien cater
    boring.ch [boring.ch]
  • Ah, but does Prodigy control what your From: header reads?

    I don't know if it does, but it certainly should. There's a long-standing tradition in multi-user computing systems that the local system ensures mail originating from a user is tagged as having done so. RFC 822 explicitly states this (section 4.4.1), and provides a mechanism (the "Sender:" header) for cases when this isn't true.

    Does your phone company control what caller ID reports for your phone number?

    It sure does!

    The From: header is set by the person making the post.

    Perhaps, but it isn't supposed to be. Prodigy should (and I expect does - remember, it started as Sears and IBM, not a high school student in his parent's basement) ensure that the "From" header accurately reflects the author's userid. The case at hand doesn't imply any failure to do so. On the contrary, the suit (as quoted in the Wired article cited way south of here) apparently claims Prodigy is liable for their failure to adequately protect Lunney from imposture. In other words, Prodigy aided and abetted in the commission of a crime. While I'm glad the Supremes found no reason to review the case and therefore allowed Prodigy's common-carrier status to stand (at least in New York), I really think they dropped the ball in also allowing Prodigy to get away with their role in the imposture.

    Yes, I suppose it is possible for the news/mail server to replace it with what their records say, but it would rely on some form of authenticating the user, and many mail clients don't support authenticating SMTP servers.

    I haven't seen any report that suggests the e-mail in question was totally forged (i.e. that it was sent around Prodigy, not through it). As long as Prodigy was in the loop, it had an obligation to do exactly as you say.

    What displays on caller ID is controlled by the phone company, with the exception that you can block it completly when making a call.

    Not to mention the wonderful Caller Id Block Block! Now there's a great concept to carry over to the Internet. Imagine the ability to require your ISP to keep mail from unauthenticated senders out of your inbox - most spam would vanish in a puff of logic.

  • All that the Supreme Court did was let the state court ruling stand, without comment. This could be for any reason -- the court might have decided that there was simply no time for the Supreme Court to deal with it, or that the case wasn't as important as others. There are thousands of petitions to the Supreme Court a year, and only a few hundred cases are heard each year. Hundreds of cases are dismissed like this even if the court thinks they may have merits, because of lack of resources.

    The court's denial of certiorari is not a ruling. It is not a holding that other courts, state or federal, must follow. The New York ruling is precedential in New York and somewhat persuasive elsewhere, but what the Supreme Court said means practically nothing for suits brought anywhere other than New York. The issue is completely open to being heard (and ruled to the contrary) by the Supreme Court at a later date, and courts outside of New York are perfectly free to find opposite of New York's holding.

    --Tim Hadley
    Student, University of Minnesota Law School

  • Regarding national security...there's been at least one case where the court has demonstrated its ability to review classified documents relevant to the case: the Pentagon Papers case in...uh, 1970, I think. New York Times v. United States. The Times (and a little later, the Post) came into the possession (via a govt. employee, Ellsberg? who stole the stuff and photocopied it) of a 47-volume set of documents basically demonstrating that the US govt had been lying to the people for 20-odd years about operations in Vietnam. Govt tried to supress the publication of the documents on the basis of national security. The Court grabbed the case, subpoena'd the papers, read them, and ruled for the Times. Long story short: yes, the Court has jurisdiction over classified, nat'l security information, if it's relevant to a case that it's taken up.
  • Well, a common carrier can't judge messages based on content and forward only certain ones, but they are free to choose their customers (in most circumstances) and to reject those who break the rules to send messages, whatever the content.

    So ISPs just need to say that identical email sent to more than 'n' people is in violation of your terms of service, as is nearly identical (just enough to pass a dumb CRC check) bulk email, without an account specifically for running a mailing list, which would be a free upgrade, but would entitle them to monitor the account usage and determine that a subscription based mailing list was being run, not a spam list.

    The phone company must let me call people, even if they don't like what I say, but if I hook up nonstandard equipment, or try to send control signals (blue boxing type stuff) or anything else that breaks their rules, they can shut me down. (Without needing to prove criminal actions or intent.)
  • COmmon Carrier status means two things
    • Not liable for your customers' actions
    • Subject to heavy regulations on what you must carry and the terms you must carry it under.

    Somebody else pointed out that Common Carrier rules, if applied to the email world, wouldn't let an ISP refuse to carry spam. They also wouldn't be able to make whatever policies they wanted about what kinds of traffic they carry, probably couldn't offer censored services for the parents that want it, probably couldn't do free-service deals with some partners and not others, probably couldn't have a special "clean-up-the-mess" fee for spammers, etc.

    Common carrier status also might affect the ability to offer various privacy services - can you support anonymous users? Must you treat all your users anonymously? Do you need to collect ID information and communication logs on all users so the Fedz can track people they don't like? This is especially an issue for free internet access services, where collecting user information is a major marketing opportunity, but verifying it is a major cost, and for ISPs that want to provide access for kids, where there are special rules about handling information collected on them that may contradict other proposed rules mandating information. Do you allow anybody to claim to be under 13 (and hence non-loggable), or do you insist that they get a "parent"'s signature saying they're a kid?

    Common carriers traditionally have to make all their pricing policies public, open to anybody, filed in advance and subject to regulatory approval. Do you want this in your business?

    Much nicer to avoid the whole regulatory game, which exists largely to help monopolies and near-monopolies use political influence to restrict their competition anyway :-)

  • Are you kidding? The supreme court has jurisdiction over every conceivable piece of law in the country

    They are the final arbiters of all law. They don't CREATE law, but they have the power to strike down and/or interpret any law or legal decision whatsoever.
    --

  • I hope this will be something future cases can stand on as a legal precedent. It's good to see a body of caselaw developing that supports freedom, rather than strip it away.
  • Their rulings have been right on target on the past few internet-related cases they've heard.

    Too bad they don't have direct jurisdiction over patent law. (at least not to my knowledge.)

    tcd004

  • the government ruled that ISPs aren't responsible for email content. What was the alternative? Invade millions of people's privacy, tear up the first amendment, set precedent to go through everyone's mail? Piss off giant corporations like Time-Warner-AOL which has so much media control that it could single-handedly destroy a politician's campaign? They couldn't get reelected if they told media-controllers with lots of money that they had to start policing their users.

    It's all about the Benjamins.

    Instant Crisis

  • by phil reed (626) on Monday May 01, 2000 @07:05AM (#1099192) Homepage
    The court (in this case the NY Court of Appeals, affirmed by the Supreme Court since they refused to hear the case) essentially recognized an ISP as a common carrier. This is nothing but good news for all of us.


    ...phil
  • Honestly, this is a great first step. The decision should have been made ten years ago, but at least it's happenning.

    Now the courts need to learn that this ought to apply to Websites too. The E-mail decision will hopefully make that easier to accomplish. It's a shame that this is coming so late in the Net's history (and yes, I know the Net is still in its infancy; this should have been done just as the Net was coming into popularity). But, as I said, it's still getting done, and that's good anyway.
  • Finally, a sensible court ruling!

    Working on GeekPress [geekpress.com] has been depressing in one way: the absurdity of the legal decisions over technical and internet issues. The judges sitting on the bench are often too ignorant of how the internet works to render any good decisions.

    I remember trying to explain to my grandmother the real basics of how a computer works: just the file-folder analogy. She couldn't get it, not matter how many ways I tried to explain it. It was pathetic. With each bad decision, I think: that judge must be just like my grandmother!

    Perhaps all judges who are to sit in judgment of an internet or computer-related case should have to show that they can at least use a mouse.

    -- Diana Hsieh

  • by Tower (37395) on Monday May 01, 2000 @07:07AM (#1099195)
    Seeing as how the Supreme court thinks:

    "The public would not be well served by compelling an (internet service provider) to examine and screen millions of e-mail communications..."

    Glad somebody is taking care of that. Thanks, NSA!
  • by Jered (32096) on Monday May 01, 2000 @07:13AM (#1099196) Homepage
    The Supreme Court did not rule on this case, they rejected it without comment. There is a significant difference...they have not offered their opinion of the case at all. They get far too many cases each year to consider and rule on all of them.
  • They couldn't get reelected if they told media-controllers with lots of money that they had to start policing their users.

    Except that Supreme Court Justices aren't elected

  • This could mean two things. One is they agree and are rational about technology. Two means they did not like this particular case and are waiting for one that would be more giving to a finding of ISPs are liable. If that is the case I wish they would have argued this one. As I have no affiliation with them I have no idea which is the true case. Hopefully we can look at this as some good news and if another one comes up with a different ruling from the lower court they will overturn it.
  • I've not read about any such cases in the States, but recently there have been legal questions in Britain and France about whether an ISP is responsible for web page content that is posted on their servers. Obviously this case has no ramifications for cases outside the US, but if an "ISP responsible for content" suit hasn't already been brought to the courts in the US, it's probably only a matter of time. Any great leagal minds out there that can say whether this case would set any kind of precedent?
  • by PopeAlien (164869) on Monday May 01, 2000 @07:19AM (#1099200) Homepage Journal
    When are we going to start standing up and taking responsibility for the actions of others? I mean, really, think about how much dangerous and obscene information must be flowing through email every day.. What excuse do the ISP's have? Its not like they lack the technology to examine every message and track every net user.. Lets keep the net safe!

    On a related topic, I really must insist that the US postal service start opening every letter and examining the contents for objectional material.

    Come on people! we're racing head-long into a dangerous time where everyone might have to start taking personal responsibility for their own actions.. Isn't that what government is for?
    -- 'Won't somebody please think of the lawyers.."
  • >On a related topic, I really must insist that the US postal service start opening every letter and examining the contents for objectional material.

    You mean they don't already? :p
  • The state court also said Prodigy could not be treated as publisher of the electronic bulletin board message.

    This point deserved a lot more atttention. The liability of a bulletin board operator for its content is much less clear cut. Assuming that this ruling was also being challenged, then the Supreme Court has upheld the privileges of bulletin board operators (like CmdrTaco) as carriers, not publishers.

    Now that's news!

  • The supreme court has jurisdiction over every conceivable piece of law in the country

    I'm not shure how much power they have regarding "National Security" issues. I would rally like them to set a precendent that judges can claim the right to rievew classified documents which are relevent to a case. We need a supream court with balls to create this kind of judicial review power.

    Actually, senitors should have automatic security clearance and "need to know" too (I mean seriously, what kind of a democrasy would not allow it's senetors access to classified information).
  • Actually, not really.

    It is misleading to say that this is a case about
    content. While the kid did sue about content, it was not because it was offensive, but rather because it was posted under his name.

    We all (I hope) agree that my ISP isn't resposible if I call you a lazy ass bastard in an email (not that I ever would mind you :-P), I think the kid has a very good point that it is my ISPs responsibilty to make sure that I'm not able to open an account in your name.

    I think it does border on negligence not to verify the identity of the person opening an account -- at least if we assume that all accounts need identities (I'd love to have a totally anonymous one, but I doubt it would be feasible -- so few ISPs take cash).

    So saying this is a case about content isn't wrong, but not 100 % correct either.
  • I believe he's referring to UK's Demon Settles Usenet Libel Case [slashdot.org], where Demon Internet settled with a Usenet loon about defamatory postings that were carried on Demon's servers.

    Nice gun-control troll, by the way.

    --


  • damn slashes in tags -- I can never remember the direction they go..
  • In yet another ruling from the increasingly liberal court, the court held 5-4 that in fact people should be held liable for their own actions.

    Officials from the MPAA quickly announced a new and groundbreaking set of proposals to protect Intellectual Property from law-abiding consumers as well those in violation of the law.

    "After much discussion with Director Freeh of the FBI, we felt that limiting the full force of the law to those that have broken it shows a narrow vision, while by enacting legislation to take away those rights only invoked by pirates and hackers, we can more easily and safely bring our artistic message to the consumer"

    This has been a test of the Slashdot Broadcast Network . . .

  • Excellent points, especially in regard to the case of identity theft, which is in large part where this case originated. (your example 1).

    My reading of the article is that basically the U.S. Supreme Court has held only that the ISP is not liable for the transmission of the offending information, which means that they have what is called "common carrier" status. I'm not sure whether the original lawsuit also contained a request for liability based on the network security issue(s). I'm reminded of the fiasco at Network Solutions not too long ago where hackers forged the email header information for a large number of websites and basically took control of those sites for a while. If I owned the registration on one of those sites, and libel or slandering material was published on those domains, I would very certainly have suffered damages to my reputation, etc. And I would hope that a court would find that if NSI didn't adequately secure my data (or offer higher security for my data to prevent the domain name piracy, which they do), that they are in part responsible for the damage.

    Spam mail...I don't know if the courts need to necessarily get involved, because there are other technological ways of dealing with the problem, AKA the RBOC list. If the email services provided by yahoo, etc. don't shut off the flow of spam mail, they can get blocked in a hurry, right? Your question asked Shouldn't these ISP's and large companies be responsible for the information being sent through their network?No -- they can't be under the court opinion. But they can, have, and will continue to be made responsible by the 'Net community for the fact that spam is flowing through their networks. Which is why nearly all ISP's have a policy of cutting off the account(s) of anyone sending spam through their connections.

    Final case: "It's just like having a gun... if your gun is taken and used in a homicide, you should be responsible for not taking the necessary precautions and preventing it from being used in a crime."

    Depends. If I have the gun in my hand and I let you take it from me, shoot somebody, etc. I'm an accessory to the crime. Likewise, if I allow or assist someone who should not have access to firearms to gain that access, I can again be charged with violating the law. But if you burglarize my house, breaking into a gun cabinet, stealing the weapon, (and I report it to the police, etc.), if you murder someone, should I still be held liable because I didn't somehow prevent your original burglary crime, or store the guns in a 2000 lb. safe, etc.?

  • When ISP's can insist on certain rules of 'netiquette' in their customer contracts, they are not acting as common carriers.

    There is a big difference between suggestions and binding rules.

    Rules of etiquette typically exclude criminal conduct, but that does not mean Miss Manners should be given the force of law. Nevertheless, there are cases where ISP authority has been invoked by energetically blurring the distinction between stating very unpopular opinions that ignite flame wars, violating rules of 'netiquette' and breaking the laws regulating the use of communication channels. This typically occurs when widely received neomorals against sins involving human genetics("racism", "sexism", "homophobia" etc.), are violated. That all countries in the industrialized western world now have vigorously enforced statutes on the books prohibiting "hate speech", the definition of which shifts and expands depending on how many and which "victim groups" have joined the coalition against free speech, does not bode well for the rule of law in the resolution of disputes within societies that are both increasingly diverse in their makeup and woefully inexperienced with such rapidly increasing diversity.

    How is it, then, that an ISP can avoid legal liability for communications that take place over its wires when it preemptively demands, not only the avoidance of illegal conduct -- such as libel, spam and cracking -- but the adherence to "rules of netiquette" in the name of which unpopular opinions are routinely intimidated and occasionally penalized?

    ISP's have, by this careless definition of their bounds of authority, abrogated their role as common carriers and become the de facto enforcers of majority opinion in public speech. All that remains is ever increasing exceptions to the principle of free speech and a free press, as the definition of what constitutes "hate speech" is widened and the force of law to legitimize this censorship in the name of "keeping the peace" is expanded to the last jurisdiction in the developed world still free from such legalistic tyranny: The United States.

    I'll post, again, an exerpt of a white paper I wrote in 1982 [geocities.com] warning of what is, apparently, coming to pass.

    The question at hand is this: How do we mold the early videotex environment so that noise is suppressed without limiting the free flow of information between customers?

    The first obstacle is, of course, legal. As the knights of U.S. feudalism, corporate lawyers have a penchant for finding ways of stomping out innovation and diversity in any way possible. In the case of videotex, the attempt is to keep feudal control of information by making videotex system ownership imply liability for information transmitted over it. For example, if a libelous communication takes place, corporate lawyers for the plaintiff will bring suit against the carrier rather than the individual responsible for the communication. The rationalizations for this clearly unreasonable and contrived position are quite numerous. Without a common carrier status, the carrier will be treading on virgin ground legally and thus be unprotected by precedent. Indeed, the stakes are high enough that the competitor could easily afford to fabricate an event ideal for the purposes of such a suit. This means the first legal precedent could be in favor of holding the carrier responsible for the communications transmitted over its network, thus forcing (or giving an excuse for) the carrier to inspect, edit and censor all communications except, perhaps, simple person-to-person or "electronic mail". This, in turn, would put editorial control right back in the hands of the feudalists. Potential carriers' own lawyers are already hard at work worrying everyone about such a suit. They would like to win the battle against diversity before it begins. This is unlikely because videotex is still driven by technology and therefore by pioneers.

    The question then becomes: How do we best protect against such "legal" tactics? The answer seems to be an early emphasis on secure identification of the source of communications so that there can be no question as to the individual responsible. This would preempt an attempt to hold the carrier liable. Anonymous communications, like Delphi conferencing, could even be supported as long as some individual would be willing to attach his/her name to the communication before distributing it. This would be similar, legally, to a "letters to the editor" column where a writer remains anonymous. Another measure could be to require that only individuals of legal age be allowed to author publishable communications. Yet another measure could be to require anyone who wishes to write and publish information on the network to put in writing, in an agreement separate from the standard customer agreement, that they are liable for any and all communications originating under their name on the network. This would preempt the "stolen password" excuse for holding the carrier liable.

    Beyond the secure identification of communication sources, there is the necessity of editorial services. Not everyone is going to want to filter through everything published by everyone on the network. An infrastructure of editorial staffs is that filter. In exchange for their service the editorial staff gets to promote their view of the world and, if they are in enough demand, charge money for access to their list of approved articles. On a videotex network, there is little capital involved in establishing an editorial staff. All that is required is a terminal and a file on the network which may have an intrinsic cost as low as $5/month if it represents a publication with "only" around 100 articles. The rest is up to the customers. If they like a publication, they will read it. If they don't they won't. A customer could ask to see all articles approved by staffs A or B inclusive, or only those articles approved by both A and B, etc. This sort of customer selection could involve as many editorial staffs as desired in any logical combination. An editorial staff could review other editorial staffs as well as individual articles, forming hierarchies to handle the mass of articles that would be submitted every day. This sort of editorial mechanism would not only provide a very efficient way of filtering out poor and questionable communications without inhibiting diversity, it would add a layer of liability for publications that would further insulate carriers from liability and therefore from a monopoly over communications.

    In general, anything that acts to filter out bad information and that is not under control of the carrier, acts to prevent the carrier from monopolizing the evolution of ideas on the network.

    • The post office is ruled not liable for mail bombs.
    • School bus companies are ruled not liable for school shootings.
    • God is ruled not liable for the actions of man. Whew!
  • The court (in this case the NY Court of Appeals, affirmed by the Supreme Court since they refused to hear the case) essentially recognized an ISP as a common carrier.

    IANAL, but IIRC common carriers by law must relay all messages, and "all messages" includes stupid, pointless, annoying mail commonly called spam..

  • ...to his upstream provider. Most upstreams have TOS that restricts spammers from spamming using their networks.
  • The slashdot headline would lead one to believe that this was a Supreme Court ruling. This is not the case. The Court simply did not want to hear this case. This does not mean that the lower court's ruling is precedent (although it is in that court's jurisdication). There can be any number of reasons why the Court would refuse to hear the case from not thinking the case had merit, they didn't feel like it, or they did not have the resources. It is quite annoying to me when people mix up a Court ruling and a simple refusing to hear the case. Of course the media doesn't help matters much by many times calling these things rulings.
  • One point that hasn't (I think) come up - While I agree with the preceding points about granting what we all think of as ISPs (MSN, AOL, etc.) common carrier status, we haven't looked at how the statute defined ISP. I don't have a copy in front of me, which is unfortunate, but as I remember the definition of ISP falls along the lines of "any computer or network of computers that is used to send and recieve data over the internet." I am probably overbroadening it, but that's the gist. As a result, it is definately arguable that a whole lot of things we wouldn't normally think of as "ISPs" fit the definition - for example, corporate email servers. What happens when a disgruntled employee uses the company internal server to disseminate false information about another employee? Do we grant the corporation immunity as an ISP? Even if they have a screening process in place, as many corporations do? It will be interesting to see how this plays out. I don't believe that anyone has tried to stretch the definition of ISP to increase the scope of the common carrier immunity. But it'll happen...
  • The Electronic Privacy Communication Act of 1986 already says "private" electronic communications is exactly that -- private. It's nice to see the Supreme Court uphold this law.

    -- PhoneBoy
  • Just apply the same decision to the Napster case and you will see a haunting similarity. "... that ISPs(in this case, Prodigy), are not liable for the content of e-mail messages sent through them." becomes "...that services(in this case, Napster), are not liable for the content of files sent through them." I just hope that this is the outcome.
  • I'm not familiar with the case, but the article cited in the Slashdot headline makes this appear to be a loss in freedom-protection, not a win. The article briefly explains that someone posing as Alexander Lunney sent threatening e-mail from Prodigy, and that Prodigy (and by implication all ISPs) is not liable for the content of that e-mail. That's great, but it seems that Prodigy should have been liable to Lunney for their participation in the imposture.

    The content-liability issue rests firmly on telecommuncations common-carrier law, but aren't the carriers still responsible for the accuracy of the telephone number that your caller-ID box displays? What if I start making threatening phone calls to the White House after convincing Bell Atlantic to give me a phone line that's listed in your name? When the Secret Service breaks down your door, will this ruling still look like a win?

  • Seems like this makes a good defense for Napster and others in hot water for what individuals do with their services (i.e. providers of network services can't be held liable for what is transmitted over their network presuming there is at least some legal use for the network).
  • They look over the Lower Courts ruling, and decide wether or not to hear it. If they see no problem with what the lower court decides, they "Deny Cert" (legal term). I've only read of one case recently where the justices felt compelled to make a comment in denying cert. (Cincy's G&L law that got shot down).

    Oh, and because Slashdot's Gods have tanked my Karma 20 points in the past few weeks for no fucking reason at all, and Rob's such an idiot he won't even _listen_ to a polite question about it....

    America:1 Great Britan: 0

    Should have gotten a bill of rights when you had the chance, guys.
  • They don't CREATE law, but they have the power to strike down and/or interpret any law or legal decision whatsoever.

    But the precedents that they set can have such legal impact that they may as well be law -- hence the term "common law." This was discussed not too long ago in my POLS class; and while you are technically correct here, the term "common law" refers to judge-made "law."


    =================================
  • by Anonymous Coward
    "seeing no problem" with the lower court's decision is not the only reason that SCOTUS will refuse to hear a case.

    they take cases that are (1) really, really important or (2) issues where lower courts have been reaching conflicting conclusions.

  • Quick!

    Someone hack up a procmail version of Napster.
  • Ahhhh...does this mean I can't continue with my lawsuit against AOL for all the spam I get from them? There should be a law against the 100+ messages I get a day from AOL sources! I have heard that AOL contributes to 40% of spam, so I think we at slashdot should make a movement to stop it! Who's with me?

    ...you can stop cheering now - im just kidding.
  • So your six year old daughter runs an ISP? Wow!
  • Indeed, what about the children? What *is* the moral to this story? The moral is that those who create the content are responsible for thier actions. What your suggesting is that your daughter is responsible for the actions of others. As for me, I prefer to be held responsible for my actions only.
  • That's it; it's great that the US have a legal statement that ISPs are not responsible for content of their customers; here in the UK it's still open to debate whether ISPs are responsible for content of other ISPs customers, simply passing through their networks (see the Demon/GL case), or customer-created content (see the PinkPaper/Outcast case)

    We are going to need some support from (who knows where?!!!) if people like Campaign Against Censorship of Internet in Britain are going to be able to reside in their own country, without having to run of the the US for legal protection!.

  • First, everyone should go read this article on Wired [wired.com] about the incident. Done that? Good.

    Now, note the part that says:

    After investigating, Prodigy canceled the accounts, but was unable to identify the impostor.
    Maybe I'm on drugs here, but this sounds like a pretty serious problem to me, when an ISP cannot figure out who is using their own service! Based on the facts as I know them, I think Prodigy should have been held liable for this, since they obviously didn't have some way to verify the identities of their users.

    Couldn't they have at least provided the credit card number that was used to open the account to investigators or something? Geez...

  • Some grandmothers (such as US Senator Dianne Feinstein) don't even know that much.

    A few years ago, Declan McCullagh wrote an article [time.com] describing her efforts to learn about the internet. Her chief of staff sat her at his desk and said, "This thing controls the arrow on the screen. Now take hold of the mouse...".

    Whereupon Feinstein cried, "Mouse?!", pulled her feet off the floor, hitched up her skirt, and started looking underneath the desk for a stray rodent.

    GeekPress: Today's Technical News, Sifted and Summarized

  • by Misch (158807) on Monday May 01, 2000 @09:17AM (#1099229) Homepage
    True, but their rejection did allow the New York decision to stand. And that's a precedent. (At least for the State of New York). You can bet your bottoms that this is going to be used by ISP's to defend themselves.

    The same thing happens in the executive branch of government. If congress is in session, and the president doesn't sign a bill after a certain period of time, it becomes law. The President didn't approve the law, but the law is. Same as the pocket veto when congress isn't in session. If the president doesn't sign a bill or veto it, it becomes vetoed without action.
  • yes, it's great that you now are given first amendment rights in terms of your email and stuff going through a network. the network is not responsible for what you post. but shouldn't the network be responsible if through their own gross negligence illegal activities are able to happen?

    example 1:
    what if you're a Prodigy member with a name, circle of friends, credit card info, etc in your account. now lets say that someone somehow steals your account, has access to your credit card info, says damaging things to your circle of contacts, makes threatening emails to people, and all in your name. Shouldn't the ISP, in this case Prodigy, be held liable due to gross negligence in protecting the security of their network?

    example 2:
    all that damn spam mail... now I'm getting tons and tons of spam mail from legit servers such as excite.com and yahoo.com and hotmail.com... it's going to a mailbox that I don't often use, but same principle applies. Shouldn't these ISP's and large companies be responsible for the information being sent through their network?

    yes, I agree that they shouldn't be able to read or censor all of the information, but being able to walk away and say that they're not responsible for all of the spam sent through their servers or their lax security it NOT a good thing. If your computer is on a network that is accessable from anywhere in the world, you should be held responsible for your computer. It's just like having a gun... if your gun is taken and used in a homicide, you should be responsible for not taking the necessary precautions and preventing it from being used in a crime.
  • OK, mr. i-have-a-six-year-old-daughter-who-i-want-to-be-a- fascist, since you consider this to be an "anarcho-hippie-communiterrorist" ruling, how about offering us a workable alternative.

    Do you propose that before an ISP can open an account under the name John Smith, John has to physically show up at their offices with two forms of picture id? And even then, what's to prevent John from masquerading as the other John Smith who lives down the street? or in the next town?

    Before you go spouting off nonsense, try coming up with a sensible alternative that you can offer people so that they can at least see some value in your viewpoint. And to top it off, you have the nerve to post this anonymously...

  • Oops, good point.
    Hmm, I could try to back myself up by saying that they are appointed by an elected person, but they're in for life or resignation, so that's pretty feeble.

    I guess I'll stick to the "defend the constitution" part.
    Thanks for pointing that out.

    Instant Crisis

  • Is the postal service not liable for delivering bombs?
  • I completely agree with you. This sounds more like a lame attempted by prodigy to do some budget cutting on expensive things like "Security" in the future through legal justification.

  • it is indeed a sign of relief. an isp probably has several hundred users, or even thousands of them, how can an ISP possibly moniter all those users and what htey are posting up on the internet? it's up to the users to behave here, and the real responsibility should lie within the user. and would it be possible to moniter emails and what goes in and out? putting lack of manpower aside, i believe it would be pretty unethical. it's a total breach of privacy. however, this brings to a very important point. even though isps are not responsible for what the users do, it should be noted that should they, after complaint by the victim, not take appropriate action(s) to prevent this from further happening, i feel that the isp has a respnsibility here, and they should be sued. this applies to all sorts of harrassments, that includes not securing their email server so that junk gets relayed through them to me ...(i get spam in my yahoo mail :((( thank goodness for filters. it must be the greatest invention since sliced bread.)

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