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MonsterHut Jammed for Spam 286 286

DeAshcroft writes "Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Lottie E. Wilkins has ordered MonsterHut, its CEO Todd Pelow and CTO Gary Hartl to stop behaving badly. The New York Post has a story on the ruling. The suit, brought by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer in May 2002, alleges that MonsterHut sent over 500 million messages, fraudulently claiming that they were opt-in, and ignored at least 750,000 requests by consumers to be taken off their lists. Newsday also has coverage. The AG has an official release on the case. Penalty hearing is scheduled for Feb 11, 2003."
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MonsterHut Jammed for Spam

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  • Heh (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 23, 2003 @10:24AM (#5142757)
    Officials were quoted as saying the CEO would be punished by being force fed thousands of cans of Spam a day.
  • How long (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tmark (230091) on Thursday January 23, 2003 @10:24AM (#5142758)
    Before all these spam companies just move off-shore to avoid litigation ?
    • Re:How long (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Like that'll stop US courts deciding they have power over everything out of their borders.
    • That's what KaZaA was all about and yet the RIAA (or who ever) was able to sue them.
    • Re:How long (Score:4, Interesting)

      by PhxBlue (562201) on Thursday January 23, 2003 @10:39AM (#5142844) Homepage Journal

      A better question is, would it do them any good to move offshore? Skylarov (sp?) lived in Russia, and the American government still managed to yank him into their "justice" system.

      • They yanked him into our "justice" system for doing something that's legal in Russia.

        I can't wait to get speeding tickets when I'm on the autobahn. "Well sir, the limit in the US is 70, and you were doing 90. Here's your ticket".

        Man, the US has voted for insane governments.
    • is it possible (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ChuckMaster (595275)
      but if all spammers move offshore, could we black list providers at routers where they come into the country? If a provider refuses to remove a spammer, can they be added to a black list, so that any packet with an ip from those routers get tossed? Or packets without received ips in their email headers? I know its kind of an extreme solution, but it would defintely attact the providers attention if their users can no longer send email to usa or canada
    • Re:How long (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bill_mcgonigle (4333)
      You can make that argument for any law.

      If the person still owns/runs/profits from/operates the business in the US, they're still in the reach of US law enforcement. If the person actually moves out of the country, there's not much that can be done.

      However, I suspect there are many spammers who do it because it's easy, profitable, and has very low risk. Once it becomes criminal, they're going to find something else to do.
    • Correct me if I'm wrong (probably no need to ask for that), but hasn't Alan [slashdot.org] Ralsky [freep.com] already done this to a large extent? He claims he has servers in India, Canada, China, and Russia, and most of his mail is now sent from overseas countries. (This is taken from the second link provided.)
      • Correct me if I'm wrong (probably no need to ask for that), but hasn't Alan Ralsky already done this to a large extent? He claims he has servers in India, Canada, China, and Russia, and most of his mail is now sent from overseas countries. (This is taken from the second link provided.)

        Would it even matter? It's the person who commits the crime, not the server; I'm sure if an American were storing, say, child porn or national secrets on a Russian server, the FBI would still be able to bust him - why would illegal spam stop being illegal just by going via a foreign relay? (UK law certainly makes it a crime for anyone under UK jurisdiction to crack ANY computer, wherever it is, so I think a US spam law could do the same...)

    • Before all these spam companies just move off-shore to avoid litigation ?
      Just as somebody who gets a contract on someone else is liable for murder, US companies who spam through abroad spammers will be liable for spamming.
    • Re:How long (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Zeinfeld (263942) on Thursday January 23, 2003 @11:08AM (#5143035) Homepage
      Before all these spam companies just move off-shore to avoid litigation ?

      Have you been to Grand Cayman? Would you want to actually live there?

      Moving the data center operations of a spamhaus offshore does not prevent prosecutors charging owners living in the US. If the criminal activity takes place in the US they can prosecute in the US.

      It is quite likely that the offshore havens can and will prosecute also. Hosting SPAM senders does not bring anywhere near the amount of revenue that the traditional offshore industries of banking and shipping do. Any country that is in the offshore game is anxious to ensure that it does not draw unwanted attention to its current scams by allowing high profile criminal activity. You don't get much more high profile than businesses that anoy millions of people an hour.

      Offshore havens are not by and large lawless, in fact the cayman islands sells itself on the fact that as a result of its British administration it has a government and banking system that have very high integrity. Cayman is not going to do anything to threaten that reputation and its existing business. So that leaves the spam senders with places like Congo, Nigeria and Afghanistan where the civil government has collapsed (though few 'libertarians' seem to want to live inthose countries).

      Moving data centers offshore is in any case a high cost and would be a significant barrier to entry for new spam senders. If you have to move to a jurisdiction where the civil government is corrupt costs are going to rapidly spiral out of control.

      The 'regulatory arbitrage' stuff is all about ideological commitment rather than analysis.

    • Then the courts restrict business that can occur in the US. France put restrictions on Yahoo! when Yahoo! was selling stuff in France they didn't like.

      The same can occur here. It's illegal to sell, trade, or barter any product or service which uses SPAM as a marketing/advertising mechanism.

      Perfect? No. But it will stop a LOT of the issues and MOST IMPORTANTLY, increase the cost of SPAM. The only reason SPAM works is that it is so cheap, 1 hit per million is profitable. If you increase the cost, the economics are against SPAMers...

    • Re:How long (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sakeneko (447402) on Thursday January 23, 2003 @03:29PM (#5145091) Homepage Journal
      Before all these spam companies just move off-shore to avoid litigation?

      Good point, but there's also a good answer. The answer is that all spammers are not alike.

      Some spammers undoubtedly will move offshore, if they haven't already. Spammers of illegal or otherwise questionable products -- stuff like travel scams, herbal "Viagra", Make*Money*Fast pyramid schemes, 419 Advance Fee Frauds, stock manipulation stuff, and the like -- are the 21st century equivalents of the 20th century boiler room telemarketers. The laws never could do much about them.

      But many spammers have established businesses and customers in this country. Businesses like Verisign/Network Solutions, Encyclopedia Britannica, Citibank, Barnes & Noble, and Real Networks (makers of the RealPlayer) have all spammed repeatedly. Some of these have done their own spamming; others have paid "legitimate" marketing companies to spam on their behalf. In either case, they are legally responsible, at least in the United States, because in the U.S. companies are responsible for what their agents do. And, just like laws against abusive telemarketing practices have stopped legitimate companies from doing abusive stuff, laws against spamming would stop legitimate companies.

      The moral is that laws won't stop an outright crook, or a crooked company that appears one day and disappears the next. However, they DEFINITELY affect the behavior of companies that have established products, established places of business, an established customer base, and a reputation to loose.

      So I'm all for using the laws against spammers. Just don't abandon blacklists, filtering, and other tools. :)

  • Ironic (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jyuter (48936) <jyuter&yu,edu> on Thursday January 23, 2003 @10:26AM (#5142774) Homepage Journal
    That Monsterhut.com [monsterhut.com] lists links to spam filters.
  • pattern? (Score:2, Funny)

    by mschoolbus (627182)
    I don't think the "*huts" are doing to well... I mean, Fingerhut, Monsterhut, etc... But i wonder about Pizza hut? =P
    • Re:pattern? (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Last I heard, Jabba the Hut wasn't doing so well either.
  • by FortKnox (169099) on Thursday January 23, 2003 @10:27AM (#5142781) Homepage Journal
    Many states are implementing no-call(/spam) lists, spammers are getting nailed for not following the law 'to the T', and more spammers are just getting prosecuted for various charges. Looks like the law finally is on the side of the spamee's. Looks like we may be in for some good times in the near future...
    • Oh my.

      it's quite too bad that we can't have engineers design and develop a communication method that doesn't allow this type of "abuse". these people are merely taking advantage of a flawed system and we want prosecution?

      our freaking law makers are busy trying to figure out how we'll implement the "no child left behind act" from mr. gwb to spend their time making and implementing spam laws.

      here's a wacky idea. educate the population. educate them A LOT. let them design a system which is secure, easy to use and easy to maintain. let them learn from our mistakes with telephone, email , cable tv and all the other failed communication mechanisms.

      radio and over the air tv are about the only decent delivery mechanisms i can see. their major flaw is that they are only one sided in that you send a message and hope someone tunes it in. they're also highly regulated in that not everyone can get their messages out via those channels.
      • Why should we have to adopt a new system because antisocial thieves have rendered the original concept unsafe?

        The system is not inherently unsafe, it's just that thieves are taking advantage of the inherent levels of trust in the system. surely we should punish the thieves, not develop some overly paranoid system in its place?

        dave
        • first off, i don't like getting uninvited emails, phone calls or USPS messages any more than the next guy (UPS packages are most welcome). I'm not a spammer nor a telemarketer nor a mass emailer. i'm a java developer.

          first off, i can't quite see how the "antisocial" person had committed thievery? they haven't taken anything concrete. only given something that wasn't asked for. it's up to you to accept or reject the offer, correct? you pick up the phone or you don't. it could be a student loan consolidator who just wants to talk to you for a minute, or it could be mom calling to talk about nothing (either way it might be better not to answer :) ). in order to steal something to be a thief, you need to take something of value. the only thing taken is the recipeients time to decide weather or not to accept or delete the message. there's also your internet bill, but you elected to sign up for your email service from whatever provider plan you like. if you're provider is charging you per message and it's not working out for you, find a new provider.

          secondly, yes, i do believe that the system should be designed as robust as possible and as flexable as possible. trust should also be inherant in any system. pagers for instance have a level of trust. the pager company doesn't generally publish your number so it's a pretty trusted environment for communication. you give people a pager number and they can page you. you know when you get a page that it's needed to be returned.

          it's not the gov'ts job to play playground moderator telling people how to play nice together. their job is to protect the borders and uphold the constitution. your constitutional rights are not being infringed on by email spam or phone spam. your right to "privacy" is not infringed since you elected service from that particular company, and probably in the small small print was disclosed how the system works and weather they'll give your number/address to others, or weather it's just a guessing game. in a true monopolistic market there needs to be governement rules (they created the monoply after all) otherwise the rules will be created by the market and consumers. if someone doesn't give the consumers what they want, someone else will come along and do it.
          • No they have taken something *very* concrete. They have used up bandwidth that I have paid for, they have taken up space on my HD, they have taken my time which is most certainly both of value and concrete. In addition to this they have used processor cycles and other precious resources on machines that do not belong to them to send out their stuff.

            Then lets get into the other damages. If I where to send you half the stuff via snail mail that these people send out I would be arrested, as well I should be in that case. So in short yes they are theives and criminals and should be treated as such. So yes there should be laws against this stuff because it does cost me money and denies me use of resources I would otherwise have. It may be small in some ways. OTOH in the not having to look at their filth area it is big.

            Having said that you are right we need a tech solution also. I think http://www.tmda.net/ have the right idea. Read about it install it and use it. I'm looking at a way to make it reject anything that is not signed (Think GNU Privacy Guard) with a similar message. This would be a good thing but we also need the law to be on our side and it should be.
          • by odaiwai (31983) on Thursday January 23, 2003 @12:43PM (#5143698) Homepage
            Spam is theft.

            They are stealing bandwidth. You may pay a fixed rate per month, but your ISP has to pay for extra load on their lines by having more powerful servers, more diskspace. These costs get passed to you.

            They steal your time. If you don't care about stopping these thieves, you can just hit delete. How much time does that take? What if you never had to receive the crap in the first place? If you want to track them down (as you *know* that they're stealing from you), that takes even more time.

            I can remember when getting an email meant that one of my friends or family wanted to communicate. Spammers have stolen that feeling from me. Now, when I get an email, I have to worry about whether I can open that email in the office, whether I'm going to be pissed off about someone intruding on my work with their marketing crap.

            Spammers are thieves. Lowlife, scum-sucking thieves. They are taking advantage of a system built on everyone behaving responsibly and polluting it for everyone. They are greedy, self-centred and short-sighted. They are destroying a means of communication which had so much promise. Email is rapidly becoming worthless thanks to spammers. Thay have taken that from us. It didn't belong to them, it belonged to all of us, but they took it anyway and abused it until it was useless. It is the Tragedy of the Commons writ large.

            dave
        • You keep running your computer with all ports open. Keep your relays open on you e-mail server. never use secure anything, keep your car door unlocked no matter where, and leave the keys in it.
          Thieves will always be there and now they can have computers and other peoples computers do the work for them. The thing is now the internet is beyond critical mass so doing crimes is now profitable because you can now get 0.01% of the stupidest people to give you money.
          If you can deal with spam then it works fine for you if you dont then we neeed a new system.
          • This is not a good analogy.

            If someone steals my car becuase I didn't have enough security on it, is it my fault? You can't say that the person who took it isn't a thief.

            We had a world where you could trust people not to steal your car. In fact, you could leave your car unlocked (your relays open) and people who need it would use it, but not abuse it, and you wouldn't notice (it would be returned to you full of gas).

            I had a friend lving in a village where the neighbours might come in (because the door was never locked) and help themselves to something from the fridge. But that was ok, because they'd always replace it or you could always just go round to their place for something. I remember being there when a neighbour dropped by and deposited a few cases of beer in the fridge ("we had a party and we've got beer left over 'cause we needed some of yours last night.") It was a tremendous environment. You *trusted* your neighbours.

            That's what the 'net was like: "Hey, I need a news feed for alt.fan.pratchett." "Sure, leech some of mine, one of my users needs an account on your VAX." "No worries, point them here."

            Now its: "Do I know you? No? Fuck off!"

            That's what the spammers have stolen.

            dave
            • I once called 911 on a kid stealing stuff from my unlocked car stored in my unlocked garage, and the cops caught him (more precisely the german shepard they brought to the scene caught him).

              The fact that my car and garage was unlocked did not matter. Kid was charged with thievin' and burglin' (a "II" and "III" low-level charge in each case since he'd only managed to run off with a book). Served a month and three years pro.

              Now ... the fact that the garage was unlocked meant he wasn't charged with "breaking and entering" (or perhaps in my state's legal code a burglin' charge with a lower number, i.e. higher on the felony food chain).

              The law does not view unlocked doors as being tacit permission to enter someone's home or garage, nor to remove their property.

              Why should an open relay or otherwise unsecure system be treated otherwise? Theft of service is theft of service.

              Not that I'm advocating one relay mail from unknown systems! Obviously in today's world if you do so you'll quickly have your system hijacked by people you can't track down. But the hijackers are still ... hijackers.

      • by walt-sjc (145127) on Thursday January 23, 2003 @11:58AM (#5143315)
        Oh my.

        It's too bad we don't educate our kids to learn how to use the Shift key.

        But back to the topic at hand, if nobody can build a general purpose secure OS, how the fuck do you expect anyone to create a messaging system which the main purpose of is to allow any-to-any communication that is invunerable to spam and still a viable system to be used by businesses and the masses in general? Do you REALLY think that spammers won't find a way around technical limitations?

        Imagine a society with no laws. You can be killed by anyone, have your stuff stolen, your daughter raped and no laws to stop it. Only the strong survive. Warlords control everything. This is essentially the internet as it is today.

        Back in the "good old days" before AOL invaded Usenet, laws were not really needed. The community for the most part policed itself. This is no longer possible.

        We now need laws to enforce proper behavior. Will this stop all spam? No. Do laws against shoplifting stop all theft? No. Do they discurage most people from shoplifting every time they enter a store? Yes, they do. They provide a way for shop owners to protect themselves.

        The bottom line is that we KNOW anti-spam laws will not stop all spam. It will however reduce it significantly.
        • I won't let my five year old have his own mail box because I don't want hot and wet lolitas and horse fuck invitations hitting him. These messages reach children and that is CRIMINAL. The blanket pornography that is spam's staple must cease.
    • Ok, I never thought I'd see the day when a /. reader is hailing Evil Goverment legislation. What next? Start paying royalties on downloaded MP3s?
    • I live in WA [wa.gov], where we've had a spam no send list [waisp.org] for quite awhile (unfortunately, no no call list as of yet). It hasn't done me one bit of good - you have to register individual addresses (I have hundreds of aliases at my domain and they all come to me - I often don't remember specific ones), and even my main address, which has been registered for a couple of years, receives way too much spam.

      Also, we've seen how many "wins" from these laws? a handful at best? There's obviously something not right with the system yet.

      Granted, heavy modifications to courier's bofh file (blocking bad addresses/mx's) has narrowed that down from 50-100 to 5-10 daily. But it's still annoying.

    • I have a hard time understanding this ruling, so can't really tell if its going in the right direction. It says that the spammers must refrain from "further engaging in any of the fraudulent, deceptive and illegal acts and practices". Why does it take a court order to get them to refrain from illegal acts? If they've committed illegal acts then there should be a penalty. Was there a penalty already and enjoining them from ever spamming again is a bonus, kinda like permanent probabtion?

  • Too bad all the spammers aren't in NY ... then maybe we could actually do something about most of them.

    • Too bad all the spammers aren't in NY ... then maybe we could actually do something about most of them.

      Huh? I don't get it.

      Maybe you're going to take the spammer to a game at Yankee Stadium. Or... push them off Niagra Falls. Perhaps some boating on the finger lakes or a tour of the Statue of Liberty? Crack smoking in Canarsie?
  • by PhysicsGenius (565228) <physics_seeker@@@yahoo...com> on Thursday January 23, 2003 @10:29AM (#5142790)
    That's a very good plan. They claimed to be opt-in but weren't, so sue them. Nice. Kind of how they got Al Capone for tax avoision, not racketeering or murder. It's a lot easier to prove the former.

    The best of it is that they can put these guys behind bars while skipping right by the free speech issue. While normally I hold the first amendment to the highest standards, I favor suspending it for spammers.

    • Fraud is not protected speech. There is no free speech issue for such cases.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Fraud is not protected speech.

        Oh, but it will be soon [commondreams.org]

        "...Instead of refuting Kasky's charge by proving in court that they didn't lie, however, Nike instead chose to argue that corporations should enjoy the same "free speech" right to deceive that individual human citizens have in their personal lives...They took this argument all the way to the California Supreme Court, where they lost. The next stop may be the U.S. Supreme Court in early January"

        Neat, ain't it.

        • Nike is not arguing for the "free speech" right to "deceive" - that is a twisted interpretation made by the author you quote. They are arguing for the "free speech" right to make a political argument. In this specific case, the right to assert that their actions in third-world countries do more good than harm.

          Given that today even Michael Moore calls Phil Knight (the founder of Nike - who made the company's first sneakers himself using a waffle iron) one of the "good guys" in terms of corporate responsibility, that isn't an unreasonable position.

          And even if you disagree, it certainly isn't fraud.

      • Spam is not free speech. Spam is not about content, it's about consent. No one is preventing spammers putting their message on a webpage or in a print advert. What we want to stop is spammers sending advertising to us on *our* *dime*. If you have to pay ten cents for each ad on TV, or pay one dollar each time some telmarketer rang you up, you'd be fscking livid. with spam, *your* bandwidth is paying for *their* advertising.

        It's not free speech - if they wanted that they can make a web page - it's theft.

        dave

      • Honestly people, please look this stuff up. IN the US Constitution, there is a difference between free speech and protected speech.

        Free speech is a more nebulous term, it allows for the rights to freely congregate and express opinions about anything. If you use that to hawk wares with people that is fraudulent, then you may be prosecuted for your behavior. If you are falsely yelling "fire" in a theatre, then you may be prosecuted for injuries in the stampede. However, protected speech is a little different.

        Protected speech in the US is Political Speech. Meaning that you cannot be restricted from standing in a public place and protest an event within reason. All political opinons are considered protected, and part of the democratic process. But even this has limits. You cannot disrupt or cause a public nuisance with this, like say blast a recording of the Communist Mannifesto every day with 1k watt speakers at the White House Lawn. That would disrupt the political process, and infringe on others rights to a working government.

        In a word, we do have free speech, but these are solicitations... not political speech.

        Also, corporations should not have free speech, because they are not citizens, do not vote, cannot be jailed for disruptive behavior, and do not pay any real taxes compared to their earnings.

        Either way, free speech is not a license for fraud.
        • Honestly people, please look this stuff up. IN the US Constitution, there is a difference between free speech and protected speech.

          Actually, that's not correct. The US Constitution has no specific reference to protected speech. Protected speech is a term that is synonymous with free speech, in the sense that all speech which is protected from restriction by the government is free speech. In particular, political speech is not the only form of protected speech.

          Some forms of speech (obscenity or threats) have no right to protection at all. Corporations have the right to free, protected speech, but in a more limited form. In the case of this article and lawsuit, what the spammer puts in his ad might be unprotected speech because of false content, but the case seems to be based on misleading email recipients about the opt-in nature of the email. The following links offer some insight on free speech and protected speech.

          Free Speech the First Amendment and Censorship [umkc.edu]
          FreedomForum.org - The First Amendment [freedomforum.org]
    • That's a very good plan. They claimed to be opt-in but weren't, so sue them. Nice. Kind of how they got Al Capone for tax avoision, not racketeering or murder. It's a lot easier to prove the former.



      Um. "avoision" is only a word if you have a heavy Brooklyn accent and meant to speak of "aversion". Al Capone was the boss of Chicago, and tax aversion itself is not a crime.

    • Pratically all of the spam I've been receiving lately has claimed that I've opted-in to it. I certainly have not. I'd like to see one of these spammers "prove" that I've opted-in.

      Maybe I should take a ride over to the local courthourse and file some lawsuits.
      1. "Avoision" is not a word.
      2. Tax avoidance is legal. I do it every year--deductions, credits, rebates, and so forth. You'd be a fool not to.
      3. Tax evasion is a crime, and is the crime of which Al Capone was convicted.
    • The best of it is that they can put these guys behind bars while skipping right by the free speech issue.

      As mentioned, fraud is not protected by free speech clause... but even more importantly who is being put behind bars? The executives of MonsterHut...? They are being asked not to do this anymore from what I understand... sorta like MS.

    • Spam isn't about first amendment issues. Spam is about consent, not content. I couldn't argue first amendment protection if I ran up to people and screamed my opinions into their ears until they went deaf.

      Spammers deserve to die because they are criminals and thieves, every one, not because they might be committing some fraud advertised in their spam. I hold all spammers to the same level of contempt, regardless of whether they peddle charity or porn.
  • by Amsterdam Vallon (639622) <amsterdamvallon2003@yahoo.com> on Thursday January 23, 2003 @10:29AM (#5142795) Homepage
    The government just ordered all ISPs in China to start monitoring email for subversive phrases and the like, so I started replying to Chinese spam with little replies of the form at the end of this spam. Might be a useful tactic on companies who think that unsolicited email is "just regular advertising."

    "Jack(export manager)" wrote:
    >
    > Dear Sir
    > How are you .
    >
    > We are a lighting factory in China ,It is glad
    > to introduce ourselves to you:
    >
    > I am XUBIN (Jack) , XUBIN is my chinese name , you can just
    > call me Jack !! , I am export manager of [deleted] ,
    > China, our group have four factory
    [snipped]
    >
    > Here is our company profile :
    >

    [Rest of sales talk snipped]

    (And now, the reply)

    Thank you for your coded order. The weapons and ammunition will ship by way of the usual route in ten days, and you already know our secret Swiss bank account number to wire the payment to.

    It is a pleasure doing business with you for so long, and I hope your cause will prevail. I am new to this particular computer, so I hope the encryption is working and the monitoring authorities cannot read what I am sending you.

    Long live the Falun Gong! Free Tibet!

    Best regards, Your arms supplier

    (from http://www.netfunny.com/rhf/jokes/02/Feb/spam.html )
    • by socratic method (15936) on Thursday January 23, 2003 @10:52AM (#5142928)
      While the parent post is quite funny, I would seriously recommend that no one actually take this route to cut down on spam. It is very possible that such a reply could get someone/someone's family killed. In China, it isn't like it is in the West... there may not be an opportunity to refute such charges before an impartial court. Couple a technically illiterate local government agency with the language barrier, and you could make some awful big trouble for a (relatively to the crime) innocent person.

      sm
      • by wytcld (179112) on Thursday January 23, 2003 @12:29PM (#5143600) Homepage
        In China ... there may not be an opportunity to refute such charges before an impartial court

        An understatement. There's no impartial court, so no opportunity. Still, a friend's band is called "The Nail Nippers," with some samples on an mp3 site. They keep getting e-mails from China and elsewhere in Asia offering to supply them with nail nippers. These letters are written in good enough English, apparently by someone using data mining software to find every e-mail address on every Website that mentioned "nail nippers" - since if a human had read my friend's site it's just obvious it's the band's name.

        So, is every factory in China staffed by people who write sophisticated data mining software? Or is there some quiet central government program that is helping facilitate spam in order to build China's export businesses? There's a certain likelihood that really doing this (replying to the spam with dangerous keywords) would really be tripping up the Chinese government, not some innocent little factory spam manager.

        Of course, if you don't share my view that the legitimate government of China sits in Taiwan you may still consider this a bad thing. Those of us who favor armed insurrection on behalf of Tibet, Fulun Gong and freedom generally might even welcome it if the illegitimate government got more involved in chasing its own tail, rather than focusing effectively on suppressing and killing Tibetans and those with unauthorized spiritual faiths.

        Sure, the innocent could suffer the worst fates; but the innocent already do. It's the sort of tough ethical dilemma where a choice may spare two innocent lives, but take another.

      • If you send it, some innocent spammer and everyone they know may be purged.

        IF YOU DON'T SEND IT, THIS INNOCENT PUPPY [americancostume.com] GETS IT.

        The choice is now yours. Which evil bastard will you satisfy?

      • Why not? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Zone5 (179243)
        So let's recap.

        Sending the reply this way is funny.... Check.
        The reply could get someone killed.... Check.
        The person killed is a spammer.... Check.
        So my reply could kil a spammer.... Check.

        What exactly is the problem, from either a moral, ethical, or legal standpoint?

        Spammer dead = less spam = me happy. Hell, I'll even cough up the price of the bullet it it makes Beijing happy!
      • Don't worry. I'll send them two polite requests first to stop spamming me. If I get more spam, then I'll send the "Falun Gong" letter.
    • Results (Score:4, Interesting)

      by tiltowait (306189) on Thursday January 23, 2003 @11:17AM (#5143090) Homepage Journal
      This apparently actually produces results:
      Earlier this month, said Ralsky, somebody told the Chinese government that a Web company from which he leases e-mail servers in Beijing was sending messages critical of Chinese policy.


      Police promptly raided the business and confiscated Ralsky's servers. Although they were returned a few days later, Ralsky now tries to cover his tracks better, so opponents won't know what companies and servers he's using.

      Linford said he heard of the raid. "It wasn't us that caused it," he said. "But there are a lot of anti-spam activists, and apparently some of them on their own started organizing a campaign to get the Chinese government to think that Ralsky was supporting" the Falun Gong, an outlawed spiritual group the Chinese government considers subversive. "We didn't endorse that, but it shows you how deep the anti-Ralsky feelings are."
      - http://www.freep.com/money/tech/mwend22_20021122.h tm [freep.com]
  • MonsterHut Wins (Score:3, Insightful)

    by telstar (236404) on Thursday January 23, 2003 @10:29AM (#5142797)
    Not only did his spam get distributed, his story got coverage by the media, and it's now a front-page story on slashdot which all will result in an increase in traffic to their site.

    I'd argue that spam DOES work.
    • Yeah, that's what I was thinking. Send out a ton of spam, get your message out, and just get told "Bad boy". Gee, what a price to pay...
      • Oh, I do NOT think you can equate a permanent injunction with getting told "Bad boy!".

        You see, if MonsterHut disobeys the injunction they can be held in contempt of court and, in most jurisdictions, fined ... usually something on the order of US$500 PER VIOLATION!

        Let's see ... 500,000 e-mails in one fraudulent run times US$500.00 equals US$250,000,000 ... more like being told "VERY bad boy!" ...

        In addition, the principals in MonsterHut could face a sentence of as much as six months in jail PER VIOLATION.

        Hardly a slap on the wrist at all ... and quite a likely outcome when you consider that judges tend NOT to have a sense of humor when they are called upon to enforce their orders against those who have willfully violated them.
        • The point is that they were basically told to stop. They have already done something, and they are getting off without punishment. That's what I don't get with all of these cases. They always get told "You broke the law. Do it again and we'll punish you." Punish them the first time. That will prevent someone else from coming along and doing what they did.

          I just don't understand why you get one "free pass".
  • It's about time (Score:4, Informative)

    by andyring (100627) on Thursday January 23, 2003 @10:38AM (#5142834) Homepage
    I'm glad judges and juries are finally seeing the light and understanding this whole spam mess. Free speech? Nope. It's just like junk fax laws, junk faxes are actually illegal because the recipient pays for the fax machine, paper, toner, etc. Same reason why telemarketers cannot call your cell phone (if you do get a call from them on it, just tell them it's a cell and they'll hang up quick) because you're paying for those minutes. With spam, I'm the one paying for my 'net connection, and after a certain amount of traffic, I pay by the byte. If only I could force direct mail marketers to stop snail-mailing me crap all the time. Why does a single 24-year-old guy need coupons for feminine hygiene products?
    • Actually Tampons are quite useful for stopping up large puncture wounds and bullet wounds. Do you get shot at often? That might be the reason. :-P

      Of course what I don't get is the people who called me to sell me windows and aluminum siding when I was living in an apartment. Figure that one out for me...
    • Re:It's about time (Score:3, Informative)

      by jdreed1024 (443938)
      If only I could force direct mail marketers to stop snail-mailing me crap all the time. Why does a single 24-year-old guy need coupons for feminine hygiene products?

      Actually, I've found direct-mail marketers are the most amenable to taking you off their lists. Their marketing method actually costs them real money each time they send something (well, so do telemarketers, but they probably have deals with the cheap long distance carriers), so they're not interested in sending things to people that don't want them.

      When I moved into my new apartment, I got the usual barrage of of "Resident" catalogs and coupon books, and credit card offers with the "low, low rate" of 24% interest. They died down a little, but were still a lot. I called the opt-out number for the credit-bureaus. (888) 5OPT-OUT. It's automated, takes two seconds, and then you just need to fill out and sign a form they send you. That gets you off the free credit offers for all 3 credit bureaus.

      The other aggravating thing was that in the Boston Area, if you don't subscribe to the Globe, you still get the advertising circulars by direct mail. (Some people love this). However, I got the return address, looked them up in the phone book, and called them. They have a menu option to be removed from their mailing list - press it, and you get a real human being on the other end (that surprised me). She was very nice, and promised that I'd stop receiving the flyers by the end of the month. And indeed I haven't gotten one since.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 23, 2003 @10:44AM (#5142868)
    is that there are 750,000 idiots out there who tried to have their names taken off a spammer's list.
  • "ignored" - hardly (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AssFace (118098) <stenz77@@@gmail...com> on Thursday January 23, 2003 @10:46AM (#5142889) Homepage Journal
    ignored at least 750,000 requests by consumers to be taken off their lists.

    I'm sure they didn't ignore them - they use those responses to determine that they now have a confirmed live e-mail address which is worth more than a bunch of e-mail addresses that nobody checks.
    so I'm sure they don't just ignore them - they likely instead do just the opposite and have much interest in those 750,000 responses and gave them a little extra attention... like logging them in their database as "live" or something like that.

    All I have to say about this is 1) I wish I had thought of it all in 1995 - could have made a bundle and 2) SpamAssassin [spamassassin.org] rules!
  • by Compulawyer (318018) on Thursday January 23, 2003 @10:47AM (#5142896)
    ...for all the non-lawyers (and non- "Law & Order" watchers) out there. In New York, the "Supreme Court" is the trial court - the lowest level in the system. The next step is the Appellate Division and finally the Court of Appeals. NY's C of A is analogous to other states' Supreme Courts. And no, I have no idea why they did it like that.
  • Go after what ever companies that keep sending me that pasta machine do hicky.
    3 of thoses a day is more then enough. I am almost of the verge of reading one of thoses just to make sure I never purchase one, but then I realize I am smart enough to know that to make good dried pasta just requires:
    water
    salt
    Big pot
    dried pasta
    heat
    collendar
    And since I have thoses why spend some amount of money of a stupid product that would add nothing.
  • Working in the financial services industry, I see Eliot crack down time and time and time again on evil-doers in investment banking. Its good to see he's not so focused on just one area. This guy is really great guy, always focused on the little guy. For he's a jolly good fellow!
  • w00t! What a gift! I didn't think Lottie Wilkins even knew my name...
    • I overslept on a jury duty day and as I was frantically trying to call them I got a page from the court reporter despite never ever giving them that number.

      Fortunatly the trial was delayed but on the last day I was "randomly" selected to be the extra juror and the court reporter asked for my number to call to let me know what the verdict was.

      Apparently her voodoo only worked on Monday's.

      Ben
  • datacommarketing.com (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Openadvocate (573093) on Thursday January 23, 2003 @10:54AM (#5142943)
    Maybe someone could do something about the infamous datacommarketing.com. It is so annoying to get your mail servers spammed by their name guessing server(65.242.117.50).
    Now I can't see their homepage because I have blocked their entire subnet in my router :), but I seem to remember their homepage saying that they don't spam. Sorry, but I have got the logs to prove it, and so does many others.
    How on earth can a company like that just continue act like they do?
  • declare WAR on spam! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by AwesomeJT (525759)
    No more passive deletions: get active, sue them to the stone age, send them "snail mail" spam, post their address on /., do whatever to get even!

    I hear a case where someone started sending spammers bills for the time used to delete messages and investigate who sent the message, etc. The funny thing is, a large number of spammers actually paid or were forwarded to collections. I'm hoping this was not another urban legend -- I want to start doing the same.

  • by Big Mark (575945) on Thursday January 23, 2003 @11:47AM (#5143252)
    See those wee "click here to be removed" or whatever links in spam? Click there, be removed. That's some spam you won't receive again.

    Yes, it validates your email address. So does the fact that the spam didn't bounce. And with those images that are downloaded off the web if you open a spam they accomplish the same even if you delete the spam.

    Admittedly I don't get all that much spam (well, for now at least, ya bastards! :p ) but when I do get one I just click the remove me link and I never see it again.

    Well, until I use Google Groups that is. I get hideous volumes of spam after I post to netnews using that. I think I'm onto something...

    -Mark
    • by Tim C (15259) on Thursday January 23, 2003 @11:56AM (#5143304)
      Yes, it validates your email address. So does the fact that the spam didn't bounce.

      No, not quite. The mail not bouncing validates the address; it does *not* prove that anyone's actually reading the mail. Clicking the link proves not only that the address is valid, but that someone read the mail, too.
    • Yes, it validates your email address. So does the fact that the spam didn't bounce

      Yeah, because spammers would never use a fake From: or Reply-To: address, right?

      Spammers never see their bounce messages, because they relay-rape someone server in Korea, and/or use fake addresses, so the bounce messages go somewhere else.

    • "Yes, it validates your email address. So does the fact that the spam didn't bounce."

      There are several email programs which can bounce email... KMail, Evolution and The Bat are the ones which spring to mind (I may be wrong)... certainly would be useful as a filtering option in MozillaMail
    • Yes, it validates your email address. So does the fact that the spam didn't bounce.
      Since the overwhelming majority of spams fake the From and Reply-to addresses, they don't see the bounces, either.
    • And with those images that are downloaded off the web if you open a spam they accomplish the same even if you delete the spam.

      Mozilla has an option to disable inline images in HTML e-mail, but still render the HTML itself (so it's readable). In addition to eliminating the problem you mentioned, this also prevents porn pictures from popping up on your screen while other people are around.
  • by pclminion (145572) on Thursday January 23, 2003 @11:51AM (#5143270)
    Assuming that only 1/5 (100,000,000) spams reached human recipients, and assuming each person wasted 15 seconds recognizing it as spam, cursing, and deleting it, we have a total waste of time:

    15*100000000/3600/24/365 = 47 years.

    Maybe he should have 47 years of his time wasted.

    (No, I'm not actually serious. But that's a lot of wasted time.)

    • ... and assuming each person wasted 15 seconds recognizing it as spam

      Now-a-days, a good portion of all users have spam filters. Some are highly effective (spamassassin) but even the lesser filters still remove a large portion of the spam.

      So a lot of modern spam gets automaitcally deleted by filters.

  • I looked at all the news articles and all I saw was that the spammers got an injunction against sending more spam, which they shouldn't have been sending in the first place. I didn't see anything about their having to pay one cent in financial restitution, much less anything like doing jail time.

    That's sort of as if the Beltway sniper was served with an injunction against shooting any more people, but otherwise let go unpunished.

    How is this a win against spam?

  • by Eric Damron (553630) on Thursday January 23, 2003 @04:31PM (#5145587)
    MonsterHut officials claimed that the reason 750,000 people where not removed from their mailing lists was that they had failed to follow the proper removal procedure. The procedure is apparently more involved than just clicking 'NO' and includes bringing a shrubbery to the MonsterHut headquarters.

Algebraic symbols are used when you do not know what you are talking about. -- Philippe Schnoebelen

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