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ICANN Grants Temporary Reprieve to Spamhaus 271

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the yet-i'm-still-getting-spamalanched dept.
daringone writes "ICANN released a statement that says they "...cannot comply with any order requiring it to suspend or place a client hold on Spamhaus.org or any specific domain name" They do, however leave the door open for the registrar that registered the domain name to then be forced to turn the lights off for Spamhaus."
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ICANN Grants Temporary Reprieve to Spamhaus

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  • Can somebody explain that in English please?
    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jfengel (409917) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @10:13AM (#16393419) Homepage Journal
      Basically, ICANN is saying, "It's not our job to suspend domain registrations; it's the registrar's job. We just coordinate registrars."
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ben there... (946946)

        Basically, ICANN is saying, "It's not our job to suspend domain registrations; it's the registrar's job. We just coordinate registrars."

        Okay, I think I sort of get it now.

        FTFA:

        E360 electronically submitted a proposed order to the court for its review which, if signed, would call for Tucows (Spamhaus' Registrar) and/or ICANN to suspend or place a client hold on www.spamhaus.org.

        Even if ICANN were properly brought before the court in this matter, which ICANN has not been, ICANN cannot comply with any order re

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by daringone (710585)
      In English, ICAAN can't do anything even if they're ordered to. They don't have the power. However, Tucows (Spamhaus' registrar) may be ordered to take them down.
      • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Funny)

        by AcidLacedPenguiN (835552) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @10:47AM (#16393969)
        So in layman's english ICAAN is simply saying ICAAN'T.
      • by Kadin2048 (468275) <`ten.yxox' `ta' `nidak.todhsals'> on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @10:51AM (#16394045) Homepage Journal
        I think the likely choices are either Tucows (as the registrar) or the Public Interest Registry [pir.org], who is the actual maintainance organization for the .org TLD.

        I'm not sure how PIR is structured and how responsive they would be to a U.S. court order -- a lot of their board of directors seem to be European, although their mailing address is in Reston, VA, and I'm not sure where they're officially incorporated -- but Tucows is probably in a position where they have a lot to lose if they ignored it.

        Still, can a registrar really "pull" a domain? It's the PIR that maintains the root DNS servers for the TLD, so if they decide to just not delete spamhaus's DNS entry, then the domain stays active. Tucows basically sends requests to the PIR to add new DNS records when someone registers a new domain, but they don't (at least, I don't think they do) actually operate the servers themselves. What is Tucows supposed to actually do?

        It would be interesting if PIR just said "no" to the order, once it goes to them from Tucows, and refused to do it. There could be some very interesting precedent as a result of this: should a U.S. court have the authority to pull a domain belonging to a non-U.S. corporation or citizen? Should a German court be able to order a domain for a U.S. corporation or citizen pulled? How about a Saudi Arabian court?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Elm Tree (17570)
        Wait... I'm fairly sure Tucows is Canadian, I wonder if they can get a Canadian company to enforce an american court order against a british company.
        • by drinkypoo (153816)
          If the Canadian company wants to do business in the US, yes, yes they can.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by ahodgson (74077)
            I'll bet Spamhaus.org is being transferred to a UK registrar right now. I wouldn't risk anything with Tucows, they have too much going on in the US.

    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Informative)

      by masklinn (823351) <slashdot.org @ m a s k l i nn.net> on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @10:13AM (#16393437)

      Basically, ICANN says that they've not been ordered to act and suspend the spamhaus.org [spamhaus.org] domain, and even if they had they couldn't do it "because ICANN does not have either the ability or the authority to do so".

      They also state that ICANN is not party in the lawsuit and is not involved in it.

      They end their posting by stating that only spamhaus.org's registrar or the Internet Registry have the ability and authority to suspend an individual domain name.

      They close their posting by stating that this comment was made in response of the community's interest (in the ICANN's position on the matter).

      • by Billosaur (927319) *

        They end their posting by stating that only spamhaus.org's registrar or the Internet Registry have the ability and authority to suspend an individual domain name.

        And in that regard, it would do no good, as Spamhaus could simply register another domain with a registrar in a different country using a TLD outside the normal .org structure (I believe they already have .co.uk) and that would be that. Given the number of potential TLDs, e360 could be in litigation forever even attempting to shut down every po

        • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by gclef (96311) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @10:47AM (#16393987)
          Spamhaus has already said that they do not want to go this route [spamhaus.org]. Their reason:

          The reality is that if Spamhaus gets around the court order by switching domain to maintain the blocking, the judge would very likely then rule us in criminal contempt. We don't want a criminal record for the sake of fighting spam. We normally help fit the spammers with criminal records, not the other way round.

          While it's technically true that they could get around it, legally, it's not a great idea.
        • by nuzak (959558)
          > (I believe they already have .co.uk)

          No, they have spamhaus.org.uk. Simply visiting spamhaus.co.uk would make it very obvious that they're not related.

          Yeah, I advocated switching to spamhaus.org.uk, but their RBL DNS zones still don't use .org.uk, and even so they would still have to get millions of consumers of the list to switch over. Yes, spamhaus could eventually continue operating with technical workarounds. And then e360 would get criminal contempt slapped on Linford, who would never be able t
    • by mordors9 (665662)
      ICANN says that #1. They haven't been properly brought before the court, therefor the court should not be issuing any orders that effect them. #2. They can not suspend Spamhaus, if ordered to do so, as they do not have the ability to do so. The only party that can do so would be Tucows, who registered Spamhaus.
      • The only party that can do so would be Tucows, who registered Spamhaus.

        Actually I think the party that could actually do so would be the Public Interest Registry, who maintain the .org TLD. If Tucows wanted to pull the spamhaus.org domain, they'd basically just be submitting a request to PIR anyway, so it would seem like the most direct route if you wanted to go after the domain, would be to order the registry to do it.

        That's where things really get dangerous in my mind. If the TLD organizations (there are
        • by Tony Hoyle (11698)
          Which is why they won't do it - they'll push the responsibility onto tucows.

          Even the perception that the root DNS is controlled by the US court system is bad news.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Heem (448667)
      e360: wah wah wah
      Spamhaus:
      e360: wah wah wah wah wah
      Spamhaus:
      Judge: OK, I guess you win, e360.
      Spamhaus:
      e360: Judge, please suspend their domain name until they pay us!
      Spamhaus:
      ICANN: Not my problem, man, go talk to the registrar.
      • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Ryan Amos (16972) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @10:46AM (#16393953)
        It's a bit different than that.

        Spamhaus is not based in the USA, and has no offices in the USA, so therefore the court has no jurisdiction to sieze anything from them. It's even dubious that the judge has the right to sieze the domain name, as it's registered with another non-US company. ICANN is just saying "Don't bother slapping us with a subpoena because we can't do it anyway."

        This has much further reaching implications than it may seem at first. First Spamhaus, then online gambling sites that are perfectly legal in other countries. After that will come torrent sites, crack sites or anyone who does anything that might be illegal in the USA but legal elsewhere.

        It's a slippery slope.
        • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Informative)

          by Stone Pony (665064) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @11:23AM (#16394553)
          According to a very interesting analysis of the case [securiteam.com] which was originally linked from another /. story on this case a couple of days ago, Spamhaus's problem is that they tacitly accepted the court's jurisdiction at the start, which makes it very difficult to claim otherwise now:

          "Spamhaus may have waived personal jurisdiction as a defense early on in the case when they not only appeared, but then asked for the case to be removed from state court (where it was originally filed) and moved to federal district court (where it is today). Arguably, and this makes sense intuitively even if you don't understand the finer points of U.S. civil procedure, doing so inherently acknowledged the jurisdiction of the federal court."

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Tim C (15259)
          The court has the authority to order whatever it likes. If the person/representative of the company so ordered fails to comply, then a warrant can be issued for their arrest. That applies no matter what country the subject of the order is in.

          However, that said, if the subject of the order is in a different country, they can choose to ignore the order on the assumption that their home country will not prosecute or extradite them. For something this trivial, there's almost no chance that they would do so.

          Firs
        • by cptgrudge (177113)

          It's a slippery slope.

          And the result of that slippery slope, if there are enough successful lawsuits, is that hosting companies will start IP filtering for the web sites and services they host. Another service offering! Don't want to raise the ire of some US-based (or other litigious country-based) company? Just block incoming access attempts from that country's IPs. If you get sued and could counter-sue for damages (and win), go there and win and then take a vacation.

          "My server's traffic doesn't

    • by Barny (103770)
      IANAL but it reads like they will not shut down the domain entry unless the owner asks (is forced by a court) to have it shut down, pretty much forceing anyone who wants to shut down the site to sue spamhaus IN THEIR OWN DAMN COUNTRY, not wherever the most usefull set of laws for their litigation may be.

      Nice wording, honest outcome :)
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by masklinn (823351)

        IANAL but it reads like they will not shut down the domain entry unless the owner asks (is forced by a court) to have it shut down

        No, what they say is:

        • The ICANN was not ordered anything (yet)
        • Even if they were ordered to shutdown a domain, they couldn't, it's the domain's registrar or the Internet Register's job to do this, and only them have the ability and authority to terminate a domain name.
    • Summary (Score:3, Informative)

      by Fnord666 (889225)
      10 Second History
      Spamhaus listed E360 as spammers
      E360 sued Spamhaus in an Illinois court, saying that they weren't spammers.
      Spamhaus said that an Illinois court has no jurisdiction and didn't show up.
      E360 won a default judgement because Spamhaus didn't show up.
      Spamhaus still said the court had no authority and ignored the judgement.
      E360 filed for an injunction, asking the court to order either ICANN or the domain registrar to block the Spamhaus domain because Spamhaus ignored the judgement.

      This Stor
      • You missed a step... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by CrayDrygu (56003) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @10:55AM (#16394099)
        12 Second History
        Spamhaus listed E360 as spammers
        E360 sued Spamhaus in an Illinois court, saying that they weren't spammers.
        Spamhaus said Illinois court has no jurisdiction, take it to Federal courts.
        E360 sued Spamhaus in a Federal court, saying that they weren't spammers.
        Spamhaus doesn't show up to Federal court, despite having accepted their jurisdiction.
        E360 won a default judgement because Spamhaus didn't show up.
        Spamhaus still said the court had no authority and ignored the judgement.
        E360 filed for an injunction, asking the court to order either ICANN or the domain registrar to block the Spamhaus domain because Spamhaus ignored the judgement.

        Check out this Illinois lawyer's take on the matter for the full(er) explanation:
        http://blogs.securiteam.com/index.php/archives/664 [securiteam.com]
    • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Funny)

      by Jugalator (259273) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @10:31AM (#16393693) Journal
      OK, in "modern english" from my amateur interpretation of the article (feel free to correct me)

      e360 has joined the chat
      spamhaus has joined the chat
      e360: omg we aren't spammers so we sue u becos u think we are!
      spamhaus: ...
      court has joined the chat
      court: spamhaus won't reply, so default judgement of $12 million in litigation costs for them
      court: oh, and u must remove e360 from ur spammer list now!!
      court: and btw, tell u did wrong on ur website...
      icann has joined the chat
      icann: wtf! whats e360 claims based on anyway??
      e360: omg take down every spamhaus domain until they comply with court's order! FFS
      tucows has joined the chat (= Spamhaus.org domain registrar)
      tucows: ??? wtf is all the ruckus about!
      e360: just sign the papers to bring down the assholes u idiot
      ** start of these news **
      icann: i dunno... but WE cant do shit.. we lack teh authority..
      icann: spamhaus never wrote a contarct with us... its up to tucows i guess
      icann: hell we werent even brought to court properly by 360

      Will be interesting to see how it unfolds... If I understand things right, TUCOWS has not responded.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by masklinn (823351)

        If I understand things right, TUCOWS has not responded.

        And Tucows being a canadian company, I'm not sure of the leverage an Illinois court could have over them to take down the domain of an english spamfighting organization.

        Me guess none, but who knows.

  • Just remember... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Volante3192 (953645) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @10:10AM (#16393371)
    Judges aren't required to know how technology works, they just make rulings that affect it.
  • A Little Background (Score:3, Informative)

    by olyar (591892) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @10:13AM (#16393429) Homepage Journal
    From Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]
    The Spamhaus Project is a largely volunteer effort founded by Steve Linford in 1998 that aims to track e-mail spammers and spam-related activity. It is named for the anti-spam jargon term coined by Linford, spamhaus, a pseudo-German expression for an ISP or other firm which spams or willingly provides service to spammers.
    Spamhaus is responsible for the two most widely-used DNS-based Blackhole List (DNSBLs, also known as Real-time Blackhole List or RBL) in the anti-spam arena -- the Spamhaus Block List (SBL) and the Exploits Block List (XBL). Many internet service providers and other Internet sites use these free services to reduce the amount of spam they take on. The SBL and XBL collectively protect almost 500 million e-mail users, according to Spamhaus' web page (April 2006).
  • TUCOWS (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dynamoo (527749) * on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @10:17AM (#16393493) Homepage
    spamhaus.org is registered by TUCOWS who are a Canadian company and thus not subject to Illinois law.

    (If you haven't been following the 360 Insight vs Spamhaus [vnunet.com] thing then you'll have no idea what's going on here!)

    • by Detritus (11846)
      Being incorporated in Canada does not exempt them from Illinois law. That's like saying a Canadian citizen can't be prosecuted for crimes committed in Illinois.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Tsian (70839)
        Where exactly was the supposed crime commited exactly?

        It does exempt them from Illinois law if the act never happened in Illinois.
      • Re:TUCOWS (Score:5, Insightful)

        by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @10:45AM (#16393927)

        Being incorporated in Canada does not exempt them from Illinois law. That's like saying a Canadian citizen can't be prosecuted for crimes committed in Illinois.

        You're oversimplifying. First, this is civil law, not criminal. Second, no crime was committed. Third, This is an Illinois court ordering a canadian company to suspend a service they contract to a UK organization. If the service is provided in the US, then the court might have the authority, but if the service is not, there is some serious question of jurisdiction here. You can't go ordering companies that do business both within and outside the US to take arbitrary actions outside the US in response to civil suits within the US.

        • You can't go ordering companies that do business both within and outside the US to take arbitrary actions outside the US in response to civil suits within the US.

          Oh really? Are you an attorney who practices in the USA? Or just another Slashdotter who thinks that common sense is how the law works?

          Other countries certainly think they can do this very thing. France thinks so. Maybe you don't remember the controversy over Ebay and Nazi items, but a French court ruled that Ebay, a US based business, had
      • Your arguement would work if TUCOWS comitted a crime in Illinois, at which point they could be extradited to the US to face charges. However, in this situation, TUCOWS would be under no obligation to comply with the demands of the US court, since Illinois law and juresdiction doesn't extend into Canada. That would be like allowing, say, Utah judges to demand that bars in Mexico stop serving booze from large containers, just because Utah has a law prohibiting that. Sorry, but it doesn't work that way.
    • And Spamhaus is a company based in the UK - that didn't stop the Illinois court from attempting to bring them in for that hearing! Odds on this judge ordering TUCOWS to take them down? Anyone?
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by 91degrees (207121)
        Tucows will probably be a little more savvy in dealing with the complaint. Something along the lines of "We cannot comply with any order by this court because doing so would breach Canadian Contract law". Rather than Spamhaus's "We want to change the jurisdiction to the district court". "We do not accept the juriosdiction that we have just accepted".
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mapinguari (110030)
      Illinois law has nothing to do with this case. This case is in a U.S. District Court, which pertains to federal, not state law.
    • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

      by gstoddart (321705)

      spamhaus.org is registered by TUCOWS who are a Canadian company and thus not subject to Illinois law.

      Well, they do run business in the US, so who knows how it would unfold; I'm not familiar with how much tucows cares about such things or if they'd just cave.

      But, I can see it now ....

      e360: We need you to shut off this domain
      tucows: why?
      e360: Because they broke US law
      tucows: But the owner of record is in the UK, so we can't do that
      e360: Yeah, but ICANN said they can't stop it
      tucows: So why should we?
      e36

      • Or is tucows one of those registrars which doesn't actually let you move your domain registration out of them?

        From experience I can say they are not being difficult in such things at all, rather the opposite.
  • by tehSpork (1000190) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @10:18AM (#16393521)
    We should add a few letters to ICANN's name, therefore making it "ICANNOT." They literally supervise domain names and the IP space, however that's about it.

    Now if Spamhaus registered the domain with GoDaddy, all 'e360' needs to do is say the site contains some severely questionable content and down the domain will go. GoDaddy has a good history with that...
    • Welcome to the life of a domain sales company. To avoid loosing safe harbor anybody that complains about a domain and includes the required verbage will take the site down and the countermand from the client will get it back up just as fast.
  • Good for ICANN (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gurps_npc (621217) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @10:18AM (#16393529) Homepage
    ICANN demonstrated intelligence and restraint here. They could have attempted to 'grab' power, using the court order as an excuse.

    Instead they demonstrated an admirable restraint and intelligence, in a situation where both the Judge and Spamhaus have failed to do the same.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by squiggleslash (241428)

      Ha!

      Here's a question. If you were ICANN, would you want to get involved in this particular can of worms?

      I mean: they can either obey the court order, and destroy their credibility with much of people responsible for the Internet's infrastructure, or they can disobey it, and risk serious legal sanctions.

      Saying "Er, you need to talk to someone else. That's someone else's job. I'm just the janitor" isn't really standing on principle, it's copping out.

      Which isn't to suggest it's not the technically cor

    • Where did Spamhaus show a lack of restraint? Correct me if I'm wrong, but Spamhaus has yet to show... well, anything in this case except disregard since they're not subject to US (much less Illinois) law. I know its a little more complicated than that, but I've seen nothing so far that has led me to believe that Spamhaus has done anything worthy of your description.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by gurps_npc (621217)
        They lacked restraint when they showed up and asked it be moved to federal court from a state court. Doing that was an acknowledgement that federal courts had jurisdiction. They should have either not shown up at all, or showed up and said what you did.
  • Good Idea (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jackharrer (972403)
    Main idea IMHO is that in this way ICANN can say, nicely, NO to US court ruling. If they agreed they would actually gave up their independence and would become easy target for more attacks from US jurisdical system.

    In this way they effectively explained themselves from executing court orders.

    Good job for freedom of speech ICANN!
  • This is just a big hoopla for nothing. Basically, what happens is a spammer is just taking his wet-dreams for reality, nothing else, and he's been able to do so by misrepresenting facts to a judge that can only act on the facts. You know the old adage: "garbage in, garbage out".

    The pity here is the media circus surrounding it which has made this the big mountain it isn't.

  • against people who throw away their junk mail without reading them. This adversely impacts the freedom of expression of the local pizzaria, the local grocery store, those carpet cleaning guys, the 12.99 oil change people, and the used car salesmen.

    Also I want that judge to decalre the "do not call" list created by the US Govt illegal. If someone talks to you, you have to drop everything and listen. If someone sends you a piece of junk mail, you must read it.

    How asinine can any judge get?

  • Good (Score:2, Interesting)

    In many ways, I am very happy about ICANN's decision. They are recognizing that the internet should not be controlled by politics or a single country/government. If ICANN had blocked the domain, politicans would start to think that they controlled the internet (although some do think that way...)
  • by iambarry (134796) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @10:48AM (#16394009) Homepage
    ICANN's contention seems to be that even if ordered to remove the record, its not technically possible for them. Only the registrar (TUCOWS in this case) could remove the registration.

    Is this accurate? Don't the glue records get published through ICANN, and couldn't they remove them?

    Of course I am in favor of Spamhaus and against SPAMers...I'm just curious if this is a legal ploy on ICANN's part to help Spamhaus (which I would applaud), or if its just ICANN telling the truth (which I would also applaud...I'm easy to please).

    Also, if true, couldn't Spamhaus just move their registrar from TUCOWS (Canada?) to a registrar in a less US court friendly country where any order to remove the registration could be ignored?
    • by Pontiac (135778)
      Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't ICANN only responsable for maintaining the Root level servers and TLD's?

      Everything under .whatever is run by the registrars..

      Now I believe the .org tld is managed by Network Solutios under a contract from ICANN (Verisigan whatever they are this week)

      I wonder if the court might pick on NetSol next.

      A prevous post noted that spamhaus.org is registered through Tucows.. a Canadian registrar.
  • by oldave (160729) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @10:55AM (#16394095)
    Tucows will be subject to the Federal court's jurisdiction, because they maintain business offices in the US (Starkville, MS, according to their website). So if Tucows is ordered to suspend/place on hold the domain registration, they'll be forced to comply.
    • If the contract between Spamhuis and Tucows was not done under US contract law (likelly, since Tucows is a Canadian company and Spamhuis is based in the UK), wouldn't Tucows be liable for breach of contract if the unilaterally terminated the contract since only Canadian courts can order a termination of the contract?

      Even if IANAL, it seems logical that a court in a country cannot order the termination of a contract done under another country's law - otherwise it would be a widespread scam to engage in a con
  • by Doctor Memory (6336) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @10:58AM (#16394155)
    For a while now, the EU and other bodies have been grousing about ICANN being under the control of the US (Dept of Commerce, IIRC). I wonder if this stance *against* a US court will somewhat mollify those objections? ICANN's hardly a US puppydog if it distances itself from the US court system...right? Maybe?

    I realize they aren't acting in defiance of a court order (they haven't even been contacted by the court yet, if I understand the press release), but at least they're toeing the "We're independent and neutral" line.
    • by Tony Hoyle (11698)
      The point is they realize it too... if they cave into the US courts once they'll have to do it again.. and again...

      Leading very shortly to the end of ICANN as an international body as Europe, China, etc. all setup their own root servers.
  • I say that the server location is where courts or governments should have jurisdiction.

    The problem is, most people/courts/governments are of the opinion that the server is somehow projecting out to the clients location.

    Lets reverse that, and look at it as the client visiting the server. Your web client establishes a session on a foreign server, the server doesn't just randomly broadcast out data to the Internet in general. You have to take the initiative and GET the data.

    I'm open to comments here. Is this a
  • by insomniac8400 (590226) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @11:17AM (#16394479)
    Couldn't an independant organization just register the name and direct it to spamhaus's servers? Wouldn't that make it impossible to revoke the domain name?
  • by Dachannien (617929) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @11:23AM (#16394563)
    Here's an idea if Spamhaus ends up deciding to comply with removing e360 from their spammer list.

    Create a "People Who Sued Us" list. Make this list functionally similar to the normal ROSKO list, allowing IT admins to choose to use the PWSU list for e-mail filtering purposes. Chances are that anyone on the PWSU list is a known spammer, since only a known spammer would have to resort to shady legal practices to get removed from ROSKO. However, the PWSU list is based only on the easily provable fact of someone suing Spamhaus, meaning that nobody on that list could complain that they were being treated unjustly.

    • by bigberk (547360)
      Many blocklists do make a point of advertising (probably on usenet - NANAE) the companies that are harassing them legally. Trust me, e360 insight or whoever t.f. is behind this current harassment will be remembered by the other blocklist operators (myself included). They may solve their spamhaus problem, but they will end up with new ones
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by firewood (41230)
      Create a "People Who Sued Us" list.

      If someone small creates this list, they might still be subject to costly legal harrasment. If some big news organization reports on these types of lawsuits by spammers, and just happens to maintain a history list, any legal action against them could probably be handled on the level of swatting flies by their legal department. News organizations have pretty strong precedents of First Amendment protection (and internal IT organizations which just happen to need to filte

  • by augustz (18082) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @11:50AM (#16394977) Homepage
    Just an FYI.

    In these situations things just keep on coming and coming.

    Judges and the judicial system are set up so that court orders can be enforced. Usually against reluctant subjects, so dealing with whiners is not new to them.

    Even in civil cases you can get a cop with a gun to go into a business and help you settle things up if the judge orders it. Unless anti-spam people think tucows is going to arm its US office and start shooting people, they are going to comply with this order.

    Spamhaus had an easy out, make a special appearance and talk about jurisdiction. Or they could have moved it to federal and fought it on the merits, which would have likely established a positive precedent in the US for voluntary opt-in to these types of published opinion blacklists. Instead they try to game the legal system in the US. That's fine, but they are likely to lose their ability to work within the US by doing so.

  • spamhaus.org.uk (Score:3, Informative)

    by ebcdic (39948) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @11:51AM (#16395007)
    Spamhaus appear to have been expecting action against their domain name, as on 14 September they registered the domain spamhaus.org.uk, over which US courts have (one hopes) no jurisdiction at all.
  • Arms race (Score:3, Informative)

    by bigberk (547360) <bigberk@users.pc9.org> on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @12:10PM (#16395345)

    There has been an arms race between spammers and admins, in many senses of the word. Spammers learned long ago that they will have an edge if they operate anonymously, either relaying through insecure relays in the old days, or more recently taking control of insecure PCs and servers and operating a fleet of zombie nodes. Their origin is masked. Or they might purchase services through dirty middlemen who then purchase services through dirty ISPs. Either way, spammers try to hide.

    But the admins who fight spam often do not hide, usually because they are part of a reputable organization and are well respected by the community, and proud of their work. Also, the way blacklist technology is used (RBL, DNSBL) makes it difficult to conceal who you are. Unfortunately this makes organizations like Spamhaus vulnerable to DoS attacks, harassment, and frivolous lawsuits (remember that spammers call themselves 'internet marketers' and pretend they are legit businessmen). Other organizations like SPEWS are somewhat better at hiding their operation.

    There are ideas floating around, however, on ways to harden blacklists agaist attacks of various sorts [sysdesign.ca]. The idea proposed in that 2004 paper would conceal the blacklist publisher, and use distributed resources to serve the list, kind of like how spammers use a fleet of zombies (except spammers steal those resources).

    Spammers are a dirty bunch, they fight dirty. Maybe it's time we look more seriously at protecting the blacklists and their operators from various types of 'attacks'.

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