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Censorship Your Rights Online

MAPS RBL Is Now Censorware (Updated) 656

HumpBackB wrote us about the lawsuit that ISP Media3 has filed against MAPS and its Realtime Blackhole List. The RBL, despite blocking only 2% of spam, is widely seen as an effective tool against mail abuse. I'm going to risk life and limb, and say that it has become, instead, just another censorware tool. Here's why.

Media3 has had six of its ClassCs added to the RBL: one in June, and five in November. These 1500 IP numbers are now cut off entirely from the rest of the Internet for any Internet provider who subscribes to the RBL (more on this later).

But making these 1500 IP numbers vanish from the net -- which is exactly what happens for any provider who subscribes to the RBL -- does not stop any spam from getting through. They are not blocked because those servers are sending unsolicited email, or any kind of e-mail for that matter.

Media3's service agreement is more-or-less the same as all responsible, anti-spam providers:

"M3 does not permit the transmission of unsolicited e-mail... Subsequent violations will result in suspension and/or termination of the account without refund of service fees..."

And MAPS does not even allege that a single piece of spam has been sent from any of these 1500 IP numbers. As their press release says:

"Media3 refused to require their Web-hosting customers to stop advertising their Web sites by using unsolicited commercial email..."

Even this fact is in dispute. I spoke with Joe Hayes at Media3, and he told me that the company does not tolerate Web sites which promote themselves through spam.

You can check the RBL evidence file yourself. When a MAPS representative spoke with Joe back in June, he told him that he needed to, not tighten up his sendmail rules, but "terminate the Samco [Web] sites and rewrite his AUP to prohibit the hosting of spamware."

Spamware? Yes. Media3 does host Web sites which sell software that sends bulk e-mail and harvests e-mail addresses. Take a look at Their IP number is, which is in the Media3 ClassC which was blocked in June. You can look them up on the RBL at lookup?

Again, the blocking of that IP number, their Web site, does not stop a single piece of spam from being sent or received. What it does do is punish the folks at MarketingMasters, whose Web site can't be seen by RBL subscribers.

The problem is that MAPS has put every 209.211.253.x IP number on their list. For example, if you look up, you'll see exactly the same message and same rationale.

And is not a spam Web site. It's otherwise known as, a group of young people who are advocates of free speech rights for teenagers, and -- irony alert -- longtime opponents of censorware.

In fact, if you visit their Web site you'll see many reports about how censorware blocks the good as well as the bad. Their latest, "Amnesty Intercepted," shows that sites like Amnesty International Israel and the American Kurdish Information Network are blacklisted as pornographic by overzealous censorware.

Kind of like Peacefire -- and over a thousand other sites -- are blacklisted by MAPS.

Let's be clear about what censorware does. It does not by itself block content. It "only" rates that content as unacceptable for viewing, and it is up to someone -- your parents? your teacher? your ISP? -- to apply its rules to prevent you from seeing that content.

I don't like spam any more than the next person. But I also don't like censorship, and I take a content-neutral view of these things. If someone delivers a product to be used by Alice to block Bob from seeing website because she doesn't like its content, that product is censorware.

And if that product capriciously, unfairly, and deliberately blocks innocent Web sites, then it's not very good censorware.

In this case, the "bad" Web site sells software which could be used to spam. Frankly, compared to Nazi propaganda or bomb-making instructions, it's pretty tame. But that's not important. Standing up for speech I agree with is easy, everybody does it. If you want freedom, you have to stand up for speech you disagree with.

At least with programs like CyberPatrol, SurfWatch, and Net Nanny, when overblocking mistakes are pointed out, they are corrected. But as MAPS admits in its press release and evidence files, the intent here is not to block the actual Web sites (after all, people who want to buy the software will find a way to buy it).

No, the intent is to get the ISP in question to play ball. The fact that a thousand innocent Web sites are censored is, as far as I can tell, irrelevant.

I don't see much difference between this and any other censorware. One difference is that few other censorware packages are actually free. Another is that fewer are so obviously wielding their power as a retaliatory weapon.

And, there's also the fact that the RBL is used by a backbone provider, AboveNet, whose CTO also happens to be a co-founder of MAPS. Peacefire had no idea that it was being censored until it heard from confused would-be readers. At least with traditional censorware, if your connection to a website is blocked, you have some idea of why. Peacefire's readers naturally had no idea whether their packets were traveling over AboveNet's network, and only knew that their connections were being rejected.

(I contacted Paul Vixie to ask about AboveNet and how it uses the RBL, but he refused comment, sending me to AboveNet PR, who didn't get back to me by deadline time.)

Vixie claimed in 1998 that "MAPS volunteers always contact the owner of a site before it's blacklisted." I'm guessing none of the 1,500 blocked Web sites were contacted.

But then, MAPS also advises Web providers:

"If you host Web sites, we suggest that you use one IP per domain so that if spam occurs for one Web site, we don't have to blackhole you or your other customers to block access to the spamming site."

That's exactly what Media3 does -- and exactly what MAPS did.

Oh, and one more difference. The RBL is more successful than any other censorware package. According to Upside, 20,000 companies that control 40% of all e-mail accounts (and, quite possibly, Web sites); that's up from what ZDNet said in 1998, 2000 ISPs that control 30% of Internet destinations.

I can't find much to argue with in Joe Hayes's summary:

"They [MAPS] are blocking very good educational sites, nonprofit organizations, in their attempts to get us to adopt their definitions in their entirety. They've made no bones about hurting people and while Media3 maintains a policy of not allowing unsolicited e-mails, we do not see completely eye-to-eye on MAPS's definitions because they become very encompassing and very broad. While they have a good tool, and I commend them for their efforts to contain e-mail abuse, they're a good thing gone bad and they have basically become the abuser."

And here's a heavily abridged list of the sites that cannot be accessed via AboveNet, or any of the other providers who use the RBL -- just a few of the sites on just one blacklisted ClassC:

  •, "the place for women and girls," about spirituality and relationships.
  •, Windows themes, screensavers, wallpaper.
  •, the official website for the town of Cary, North Carolina.
  •, yet another Web site-designer.
  •, a music site which points out (in German) that it's a victim of an anti-spam initiative, and thus has moved to
  •, bowling tips and schedules.
  • "The total balance of wholeness and wellness within the areas of Mind, Body, Family, Society, and Finances in our lives is our goal," OK, whatever.
  • and -- both are authors of romance novels.
    And finally,
  • "If you are looking for a fun and easy recipe to do with the kids, try these deliciously simple Winter Cookie Pops."

Update, something like an hour later: If you're planning to e-mail me or post a comment saying I don't know what I'm talking about because the RBL only blocks mail traffic, please take a moment to read this 1997 interview. Excerpt:

SunWorld: How do you defend your policy of Blackholing Web services that host spammers' Web sites -- even if the spam itself isn't going through their service?

Vixie: This is the most controversial thing we do because it's censorship of something that isn't spam. It's me saying to some Web provider, because you are renting space to this person [a spammer] who is doing something completely legal, I am going to Blackhole your butt.

For more on the Border Gateway Protocol implementation of the RBL, see this page (thanks to jeffg for the link); for a description of how it drops all packets to blackholed sites, see this message.

Also, Bennett Haselton of Peacefire reports, at 10:58 PM EST:

I just telnetted in to and was able to do "ping" and "ping" and "ping" despite the fact that that traceroute on all of these sites shows that they are hooked up via

Peacefire's IP address is still on the RBL, so it looks like AboveNet has, for the time being, temporarily stopped blocking their users from accessing sites on the RBL.

This means that either:
(1) AboveNet has realized the errors of their ways, and is trying to correct them.
(2) AboveNet is trying to cover up the fact that they ever censored their users' Internet access, and they are temporarily opening up the gateway so that people on AboveNet will be able to access Peacefire and will think it is all a hoax.

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Media3 Sues MAPS Over RBL Listings

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward
    If you don't like MAPS, don't use it.

    The problem with this is that you can't keep someone who subscribes to MAPS from sending mail to you! It's a one-way blackhole. Someone on a MAPS-enabled ISP can send mail to someone who is blackholed by MAPS, but that person can never reply. The MAPS using ISP's customers don't know they will never get a response.

    Arguing about this with MAPS people will just get you listed in MAPS.

    Spam sucks, but there really needs a better way of dealing with it. Leaving it to an autonomous private group who isn't responsible to anyone is just asking for more trouble.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Censorship is something that can only be conducted by the government

    Censorship can be done by anyone (I censor my own speech on a regular basis so as not to offend).

    You have censorship confused with the first amendment -- freedom of speech can only be violated by the government (because only the government is limited by the constitution) but private individuals and corporations can and do censor every day...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Yes: ISPs have the right to say what can go on their network and what cannot. However, if an ISP sells me internet access, that is generally on the implicit assumption that it will be _complete_ internet access. So if my ISP uses RBL without my agreement, they are breaking their contract with me and I can sue them. If a backbone uses an RBL without informing its customers (ISPs, etc.) it can be sued for a lot of money.
  • How many years do you have to live? 50?

    10 secs * 356 days * 50 years = 178000 seconds
    178000 secs = 2966 minutes = 49 hours = 2 days

    Are you willing to let spammers take 2 days from your life? And in doing so, you are doing nothing to help others. I make more of an effort- I file reports with I spend about six times the seconds you do, per day.

    What right do you have to say that I should have almost two weeks taken out of my life by spammers? I won't get those two weeks again. You won't get those two days again- and do you think it's going to _stay_ at 10 seconds a day? Soon you'll be spending 45 seconds digging through the spam (nine days out of your life) and I might be spending fifteen minutes a day spamcopping (I have a domain...) and that's SIX MONTHS off my life, just dealing with spammers! Already it seems like I spend many minutes a day on the spam, over and over and over in unending repetition. I wish my ISP used the RBL. They are considering some such action. If they go with the RBL I will fully support it even at its most extreme application.

  • What if you're a business- or, hell, just _want_ to be a business?

    I'm trying to get a recording studio [] off the ground (obMusicLink []), and putting a lot of effort into it. I _have_ to keep out there publically and I get all its email, every dictionary-attack spam on the domain- and I need a solid memorable unsurprising email address to give people if they want one-

    It's like some of the mp3-fan reactions to the threat of the format being suppressed- I don't care if you can hide mp3s in zips, or hide email addresses in geeky obfuscation or ever-changing 'stale address discard' rules. I don't have that luxury and never will have it- I'm stuck operating on the outside with my domain and my fledgling business (for which I keep all records of income and expense- not gonna hide from IRS either). I have no option but to use email and web resources straightforwardly and unobfuscatedly- and I won't be able to keep up with the load of spam forever unless the spammers are cracked down on. The spamload could easily just keep accelerating exponentially if nothing is done to stop it- as it seems more mainstream, more will do it, and so on.

    (random side note- remember how changed its agreement and made it evil? Well, a new music site called [] recently changed their agreement- and, get this, changed it to be MORE favorable to the artists! Color me flabbergasted. I'm still happy with besonic, myself, but who knew? Kudos to ampcast, just found out about this today :) )

  • No good- this is trivially hackable. Haven't you seen the spams with either alphanumeric gibberish starting them off- or _language_ gibberish in a subparagraph at the bottom? Spam is already avoiding this trap- the whole purpose of randomly generated areas in spam is to bypass any such spamtrapping code. I've seen this over and over.
  • This is just pure punishment, not even on the same track as trying to cut down on spam.

    And that is why many of us dislike MAPS, because that is exactly what they suggest. In fact that is the original method by which they operated - the DNS method you mentioned was added later, and they still advocate the complete BLACKHOLING of all traffic to the sites on their blacklist.
  • And then, you can turn the RBL off. Victims of Censorware can't turn it off because they aren't allowed to do so.

    I don't see how you can make that distinction. The only way for a user to turn the RBL off is to switch ISPs to one that does not use it. If you consider this a legitimate solution then censorware is perfectly fine too, since you can always move to an internet connection which doesn't use censorware (using one at home instead of the library, for instance).
  • It's not censorship if it's voluntary. If I decide not to read the /. posts of anyone whose nick starts with 'd' and encourage others to do the same, am I censoring you? No! Only if I start threatening people that if I see them reading your posts I'll throw them in jail is censorship occurring. Until that point, they make their own decision not to read your posts.

    To quote from Webster's:

    Censor \Cen"sor\, n. [L. censor, fr. censere to value, tax.]

    2. One who is empowered to examine manuscripts before they
    are committed to the press, and to forbid their
    publication if they contain anything obnoxious; -- an
    official in some European countries.

    None of the other definitions given apply -- the first is the actual Roman officials after whom the word is named, the third to a general fault-finder and the fourth to a critic. This one, too, clearly misses the mark. MAPS is not given any special empowerment to read content, and (more critically) cannot forbid publication. All they do is publish a list, with no enforcement to back it up; thus, they do not forbid anything.

    If a user is being censored by anyone, it is not MAPS but rather the ISP who chooses to use the service without their users' consultation. However, even that doesn't hold water, as the user is not forced to use any given ISP. With no forceful coercion involved anywhere down the line, any claim of censorship is certainly far wrong.

  • The reason: the users are voluntarily paying the admins for their service. If they don't like the service, they have easy recourse -- they can withhold pay if their ISP violates the terms of its agreement, and can easily switch providers. If there are no providers that don't censor, then there's a pretty strong incentive to start one.

    I'm pretty damn unhappy with my government; indeed, it's violated its own Terms Of Service (Constitution) -- but if I stop paying taxes in protest, I'll find myself in jail. And if I try starting a competing government here in town, I'll find myself in pretty bad shape.

    My ISP can censor me all they want -- there's an econmic mechanism to keep it from being abusive; I'll just switch. If my government tries to consor me, there's no such recourse -- then I get pissed.
  • by pb ( 1020 )
    Well, I agree that any site that sends spam should be blocked. Or, rather, destroyed in a pilliar of fire whenever possible. But if it just sells spamming software, and doesn't actually spam, I don't see a problem with that.

    But then I went to their website.

    My GOD, have you ever seen anything so awful?

    So then I turned Java off.

    There were still broken images, blinking links, I couldn't read the text...

    Could we have a web proxy that blocks UGLY web pages? Becuase I'd blackhole these guys in a heartbeat!

    Are they actually trying to run a business? If I saw a "business" site that looked like that, I'd run the other way!

    Ugh. Unclean. Please block that site, whatever your reasoning.
    pb Reply or e-mail; don't vaguely moderate [].
  • The innocent victims are real victims, but not of MAPS but *their own ISP*. We had a similar case in Denmark, where a ISP refused to throw out a web hotel customer for spamming through other channels, and got a netblock blacklisted by MAPS. This was problematic, because one of the major Danish ISP's blocks all trafic to hosts listed by MAPS.

    However the ISP in question they *did* move their other customers away from the netblock, while reconcidering the case. Thus, only the spammer was affected.

    In general, users of ISP's who are both incompetent and refuse to cooperate in the fight against spam *will* get hurt. However, they will be in a position to do something about it, by using a competent ISP.
  • by chrisd ( 1457 ) <> on Wednesday December 13, 2000 @08:44PM (#560462) Homepage
    I am probably not the only person who found it interesting that maps, by banning an IP because of a company selling software to spam, is the moral equivalent to the MPAA suing and taking down sites that host DeCSS. Do we go after the tools to do "bad things" or do we go after those who do the "bad things".

    Now, spamming software is sick messed up crap, but if we subscribe to maps, then are we as bad as Jack Valenti and his pals in the entertainment industry?

    Chris DiBona
    VA Linux Systems

    Grant Chair, Linux Int.
    Pres, SVLUG

  • The author implies that is using the RBL to block HTTP access to websites. This is quite troubling if true.

    It seems much more likely that and various other ISPs and users are using the RBL to block email from the IPs in question (which would be likely to be used by the website, but might not be). This is also troubling if innocent machines are implicated but much less so and hardly rises to the level of censorware since websites do not typically use email for only a tiny fraction of their content.
  • by Acheron ( 2182 ) on Wednesday December 13, 2000 @09:39PM (#560469)

    There are three ways that RBL may be used, listed at this address: []

    ONLY ONE OF THE USAGE METHODS results in blackholing all ip traffic, that is the Subscription via BGP. This option is only available to larger networks with routers which have an ASN (see [] if you don't know what an ASN is.)

    I know of very very few networks which use RBL in this manner. There must be a few, but it seems like a pain in the ass, and there are negative effects of doing it, as indicated on the RBL description of the service.

    Anyone choosing to implement such an esoteric blackholing system for all ip traffic from RBL-listed hosts is likely FULLY AWARE that they will be dropping some hosts, and must consider that an acceptable risk. If you are a client of such an organization, and don't buy into that, then leave. My guess would be that most that have successful implementations of BGP RBL subscription had buy-in from their clients before they set it up.

    My guess is that 95% or more of RBL subscribers use the "Direct usage via DNS lookup by mailserver" method of applying RBL blocking. This method has ZERO IMPACT on http, ftp, dns, ICMP, or any other type of traffic other than SMTP.

    This Slashdot article was written by someone who does not understand the nature of the Internet and the RBL on a detailed level, and who is obviously dipping into conspiracy theories a bit... his little diatribe on sounds like the manifesto of a lunatic. To the author: Get over it, sir. You don't understand the technology, and you don't understand the decisions made by ISPs who implement the RBL. I wish you well in your career, but this isn't going to be the ground-breaking story you thought it was. Feel free to write me if you'd like to speak to me further.


  • Unfortunately, I am behind which I believe does subscribe to the BGP RBL-- not something my ISP (Capu.NET) can change... During 1999-2000 MAPS RBL blocked Steve Forbes' campaign website so I couldn't get to it from home, something I found highly dubious. I've known that MAPS RBL has been Censorware for a long time now.

    Whatever good MAPS RBL could have acheived has been lost with its Ivory Tower administrators who slash and burn netblocks with no accountability. "It's to fight spam" sounds more and more like "What about the children!?" to me from the MAPS people. They have made it an excuse to fuck with people's livelihoods. Pardon mon Français. That's how I feel.
    computers://use.urls. People use Networds.

  • If a government library refuses to cary 'Hucklberry fin' because of it's content then that's censorship. However private organizations should not be forced to carry or not carry a given item. You cannot compel me to carry a slashdot bumper sticker on the back of my car claiming that if I refuse I am 'censoring' your right to free speech.
    No... If a government refuses you the right, with your own resources, to purchase and read Huckleberry Finn, that's censorship.

    Where on earth has everyone got the idea that, for the government to fail to actively support something is equivalent to the government prohibiting it?


  • By your logic, the United Nations should start killing Iraqi men, women, and children until Sadam Hussein steps down. Hey, it would work. Once all the citizens are dead, Sadam will have no one to rule over, and will thus no longer have power.
    Why Not? It worked to end World War II. Isn't peace worth a few cracked eggs?

    (NOTE: this is called sarcasm. I am actually a philosophical pacifist, violently *ahem* opposed to violence.)


  • IPv4 addresses are not so plentifully available that one can simply block all questionable netblocks and expect there to be any unblocked addresses left for the good guys to reside in.

    Also, with the current pace of mergers in the telecom sector, it is becoming increasingly the case that many people simply don't have the luxury of choosing their internet provider. Punishing innocent sites by mere association in this case is a cure worse than the disease.

  • by David Jao ( 2759 ) <> on Wednesday December 13, 2000 @06:59PM (#560477) Homepage
    Did you read the article by any chance? The problem being pointed out is that organizations such as Peacefire, who do not spam or harbor spammers or support spammers, are being blocked by the RBL, not for anything they did, but merely for being on the same netblock as the spammer websites.

    Such a gaffe might be understandable if the IP addresses in question were dynamic, but they're not. They're static. There is no need for MAPS to list in the RBL.

  • by jeffg ( 2966 ) on Wednesday December 13, 2000 @07:50PM (#560478)

    There are many forms of the MAPS RBL subscription.

    One form that appeals to some network providers is the MAPS RBL Subscription via Multihop eBGP4 [] . This subscription option involves configuration within border routers of a subscribing network provider. Any traffic that passes through a router configured to peer with the MAPS RBL feed will null-route packets destined for any host or network listed in the MAPS RBL. This includes ALL internet protocol traffic -- not just mail.

    If a network or host is listed in the MAPS RBL, and a router between you and that host or network is configured to use the MAPS RBL BGP feed, you will be unable to browse a website located there, you will be unable to ftp to them, and yes, you will be unable to send them mail. And they will be unable to send you mail, or browse your web site. Again, any traffic passing through a router configured in this way that is destined for an IP in the MAPS RBL will be null-routed -- for all intents and purposes, dropped on the floor.

    Asymmetric routing and inadequate coverage on the border can be a noted hole, but in cases such as these, the MAPS RBL BGP feed isn't really working anyways.

  • How else do you get the people with bad relays to fix them?



  • If you pay that much, you can put an SMTP MX agent somewhere that doesn't blackhole routes.

    Again, I am not getting routes blackholed through today. I can click on those links and see them. Traceroute tells me I'm going through .


  • Well, if nothing else you can get an email address somewhere else that circumvents the RBL. If you run your own MDA, you can get an MX somewhere else that circumvents the RBL. Go into business today providing spam-unfiltered email!


  • That would be a good analogy if the problem was only within your house. A closer analogy here would be that your burglar alarm is going off at night and waking me up. Can I compel you to fix it? Yes.



  • You don't have your name and email all over the web. Take pity on those who do and allow them some filters.



  • It's, not mediamasters. I've led you astray. Sorry.
  • Not in the town where I live, and not in the one where you live either. The principle is simple: your right to swing your fist ends at my nose. Where I live, I would call the police who would cite you under the noise ordinance, they would fine you and require you to fix the violation, and if you did not do so they would eventually get a court order. Then, if you violate the court order you are in contempt and can be jailed. That's the way the law works most places in the U.S.



  • It's more likely that Grandma will stop using her email because of all those junk messages. Try this experiment. Register a 4-character name at some of the free mail services. Don't ever use it. See if it gets mail. It will! They are scanning aaaa to zzzz and farther.



  • Mill's not an absolute. Not every annoyance is harm because there is a level of annoyance that people tolerate in order to live in community. It's when you exceed that level that harm occurrs. If you bloody my nose, that's harm. If you wake me up at night once, you might be cursed out but not hauled to jail. Do it 10 times, and it's a different matter.



  • by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) <> on Wednesday December 13, 2000 @06:29PM (#560498) Homepage Journal
    And then, you can turn the RBL off. Victims of Censorware can't turn it off because they aren't allowed to do so.


  • by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) <> on Wednesday December 13, 2000 @06:43PM (#560499) Homepage Journal
    traceroute to (, 30 hops max, 38 byte packets
    1 ( 21.416 ms 0.832 ms 0.703 ms
    2 ( 22.975 ms 12.134 ms 16.915 ms
    3 ( 22.722 ms 7.364 ms 7.759 ms
    4 ( 20.723 ms 9.060 ms 7.091 ms
    5 ( 23.190 ms 7.470 ms 7.776 ms 6 ( 23.403 ms 7.579 ms 7.755 ms
    7 ( 67.590 ms 67.780 ms 68.573 ms 8 POS12-0-0.GW2.CHI6.ALTER.NET ( 70.829 ms 69.470 ms 69.189 ms
    9 112.ATM3-0.XR1.CHI6.ALTER.NET ( 69.099 ms 67.905 ms 69.813 ms
    10 291.ATM2-0.TR1.CHI4.ALTER.NET ( 94.485 ms 95.112 ms 93.882 ms
    11 106.ATM7-0.TR1.TOR2.ALTER.NET ( 95.481 ms 102.600 ms 99.372 ms
    12 299.ATM7-0.XR1.TOR3.ALTER.NET ( 103.557 ms 98.535 ms 98.082 ms
    13 190.ATM7-0.GW1.TOR3.ALTER.NET ( 98.190 ms 100.049 ms 98.933 ms
    14 ( 114.641 ms 100.628 ms 103.484 ms
    15 mediamasters ( 102.729 ms 101.457 ms 101.752 ms

    So, it's not happening here.

  • by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) <> on Wednesday December 13, 2000 @07:06PM (#560500) Homepage Journal
    Bruce perens is human. I typed mediamasters instead of marketingmasters. I am getting to the marketingmasters class C through rather than .


  • by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) <> on Wednesday December 13, 2000 @08:21PM (#560501) Homepage Journal
    Slashdot is so funny. I get moderated to +4 for admitting I'm a dunce :-)



  • by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) <> on Wednesday December 13, 2000 @08:06PM (#560502) Homepage Journal
    Signal-to-noise is a precious commodity. Of course, spam degrades it. If spammers ran rampant (more than they do today), I'd not be able to have this [], an address that anybody in the world can use to reach me, even when I've never heard of you.

    It happens that if you write me and I'm not at home, I get your mail via Palm VII wirelessly. Whoever you are. Even if I've never heard of you. And sometimes, that matters to people.

    Spam really is a problem on the Palm, because it takes time to download it, there's only 2MB RAM so there's no space for it, and so on.

    So, I want to filter spam, and I want to deter spammers because deterrence is more effective than a filter. The RBL has been a positive force for me, it's kept the S/N to the point that I can read your mail.



  • I've only got experience of this stuff with QMail, but for that MTA, there are patches to add X-RBL-Hit headers or similar, as well as the more common don't-accept-RBL-listed-connections type of thing.

    I don't know if this is a specific qmail issue, but the way the server works is to accept the mail if it for a local domain, queue it and then figure out what to do with it in terms of the user to deliver to, since there may be aliases and so on involved, which it doesn't want to spend time resolving when accepting the mail. In the case where the spammer is just guessing usernames en masse with a domain name on the end, all the 'misses' become bounces. If spammers were at least halfway decent and mailed address known to exist, the load on mail servers from spam would probably be considerably reduced.

    So the difference is that the ISPs mail server will then spend a large chunk of time generating bounce messages (which will typically also bounce back, as the return address of spam is often faked), rather than refusing to accept the single connection in the first place (a single connection can spawn hundreds or thousands of queued items - a large BCC list effectively).

    Obviously, the time spent by the mail server clearing queues of bounce messages and double-bounces is time spent not delivering customers incoming and outgoing mail.

    Personally, I agree with the RBL in it's DNS form, but not the BGP version - blocking routing to IPs and especially IP ranges completely is extreme and harms much more than the intended target.

    Of course, if you like the idea but not the politics, you could reasonably easily set up a competing service - it's just DNS data. Maybe make it group-moderated in some way - slashdot for spam-prevention. *shudder*. I believe there are at least a couple of similar things for usenet spam (can't remember the names though).
  • by jamiemccarthy ( 4847 ) on Thursday December 14, 2000 @04:35AM (#560508) Homepage Journal
    "Just a correction, according to spamhaus media3 is hosting not 1 but 21 spam sites, the largest on the list, and considering media3 is a grand total of a few class C networks, thats a pretty high percentage of their customers being spammers."

    Just some corrections of your correction. :)

    1. The Spamhaus list is here [].

    2. Not a single one of the IP numbers listed there sends spam. Let me repeat that: you could drop every one of those IP numbers off your network and it would not stop a single piece of spam from reaching you. Those are websites. Spamhaus and MAPS don't like ths products those websites are selling and that is why they (and over a thousand other websites) are blocked.

    3. Media3 has 42 Class C blocks, which means that 0.2% of their IP numbers house websites which sell spam-friendly software (but, again, those IP numbers are not sending spam). I would not say 0.2% is a "high percentage."

    The situation is analogous to a censorware company blackmailing a service provider into removing Holocaust-denial material, by blocking thousands of innocent websites. Now, I don't like Holocaust denial [], but standing up for free speech means standing up for speech I don't believe in.

    This situation is no different (except that, on my scale of evil, spammers aren't even close to those who want to rehabilitate Hitler).

    Jamie McCarthy

  • I looked at the C source of the filter, and it looked like a potential security hole. I saw a strcat(), strcpy(), system(), and insecure use of files in /tmp.

    Also, while the neural network source is available, the java source code isn't, so this is not an open-source application.

    I think this kind of technology has a lot of potential, and I hope to see this implemented in a manner that can be used in a secure manner in the real world.

    - Sam

  • Sorry, but this hackneyed line about "only the government can censor" is utter bullshit.

    Censorship is the deliberate attempt to block a flow of information. If you don't let your 8-year old watch hardcore porn at home, you're censoring his or her viewing. (Note that this is appropriate censorship, IMO)

    Look up "censor" in a dictionary. Look up its origin -- show me where it means "an act committed by a government". I, as a consumer, by buying a connection from someone who uses the blacklist, am authorizing them to act as censor. Yes, it's voluntary, but it's still censorship.

    If a public library doesn't carry a book, that's censorship because the library is supposed to carry everything, not because the library is a government entity. A private library operates under a different charter than a public library does. They're different entities with different purposes.

    Likewise with an ISP. The blacklist is perfectly legal, and I do have the choice of going to an ISP that doesn't use it, but the question is about what the ISP is chartered to do, and what we believe an ISP should do. Does the ISP provide information or access? If it provides information, censorship is appropriate. If it provides access to information, then censorship is inappropriate.

    The real issue is consumer education. When I buy a connection, and I'm told that it's spam-proof, I might like that. Unfortunately, there will be information I will be denied access to and I might never know that I'm being denied. I thought I was paying for a data pipe, and protection against unsolicited email, but how will I know that I'm paying for protection against entire sections of the net that hold no threat?

  • (I fear you're just trolling, but I have enough free time, so here goes...)

    Actually, you got it backwards. It's your thesis that it closer to the socialist ideal.

    Private companies choose to use the RBL to filter their incoming mail. This is analogous to paying someone to throw out junk mail before you get to it. It is a business choice they choose to do in order to lessen the load on their business.

    You as a private individual have the right to choose to do business with that company or not. But nobody has the right to tell that company that they can't block certain traffic from coming into their networks.

    Whether or not you agree with spam is irrelevent. The RBL is totally in line with a free market. If you don't believe the RBL should be allowed to do what they do, you are essentually saying that someone shouldn't be able to kick unruly people out of their place of business.

    - Jeff A. Campbell
    - VxReality (BETA)
  • ---
    People seem to keep saying that RBL is optional, well what about the situation, where someone is using it on a backbone, as was the case in the article? I dont see much choice in the matter then.

    Maybe not, but who are we to tell anyone how they should treat the data flowing through their networks?

    It's a free market - if enough customers of enough ISPs complain, those ISPs will move the issue up the chain and market pressure may change their mind. It's your right as a consumer to choose who you do business with, and your ISP's right to choose who they do business with. It's really quite simple.

    One thing, it does seem that a lot of people are mistakenly thinking that it would block the website as well, but it will only prevent mail, however some companies may rely on this for their ordering system.

    Maybe, but if I control a significant amount of bandwidth, isn't it my right to allow that traffic to flow over it on my terms? Especially if the product of that bandwidth is using CPU and drive space on my servers?

    I'm not necessarily saying that I agree with the somewhat over-zealous ways in which MAPS operates (I'm in a position to utilize the RBL, but choose not to), but I agree that they have a perfectly legal and ethical right to offer their service if they wish. There is nobody forcing anyone to use them.

    - Jeff A. Campbell
    - VxReality (BETA)
  • ---
    not if the ISP has a monopoly on a certain section of your neighbourhood. thats a bullshit argument that M$ was using in their anti trust trial.

    A monopoly in your neighborhood? What are you talking about?

    You can't extend the definition of 'monopoly' to any company you don't like - even if they don't happen to have competition in your area. Microsoft didn't get the smackdown because they're merely a monopoly. They got in trouble because they allegedly used their monopoly in order to illegally squeeze out any potential competition.

    It is not illegal if there is only one provider in your geographic area. It's quite possible that no real competition has even attempted to penetrate your local market, or it's just not worth bothering with for various business reasons.

    And to be honest, in these days of Earthlink, Sprint,, AOL, etc. I kind of doubt very many people are stuck with only one provider. This is a market segment that very clearly does not have a single monopoly controlling it. The argument is a bit of a joke.

    Face it: If you don't like the policies of your provider, you can feel free to open up a competing provider or search for another. Under our current (decidedly non-Communistic) system, you don't have a right to force the existing players to do something with their own resources.

    Of course, you can always vote with your wallet. If enough people agree with you, it's quite likely you'll find success. Unfortunately more people seem to think avoiding spam is more marketable.


    Either way, my original point was that the guy saying that supporting the RBL was 'Commie' had it all wrong and was talking out of his ass. Communism would be more likely to support right control over the ability of people to make things like blacklists.

    Regardless of whether you are for or against strong 'market regulation', you have to know that stopping MAPS from publishing their list is just like banning Consumer Reports. This is definitely not in the spirit of our free market system.

    - Jeff A. Campbell
    - VxReality (BETA)
  • Anyone choosing to implement such an esoteric blackholing system for all ip traffic from RBL-listed hosts is likely FULLY AWARE that they will be dropping some hosts, and must consider that an acceptable risk. If you are a client of such an organization, and don't buy into that, then leave. My guess would be that most that have successful implementations of BGP RBL subscription had buy-in from their clients before they set it up.

    I do agree with what you're saying... for a end-user ISP. But, if you are a backbone provider (as is) and you are dropping packets that are passing across your backbone -- not from your direct customers, not to your direct customers you are WRONG.

  • Most ISPs will not tell you they are using MAPS. Even if they did, there are still enough ISPs using MAPS to cause problems if MAPS decide to block someone unfairly.
  • So, you decided to post the article anyway rather than wait for a response from the individuals who you are attacking? That doesn't seem like very good journalism to me.

    This is standard practice. For all that you know, Jamie contacted AboveNet 3 months ago, and still hasn't heard back. It's reasonable for him to contact them, say that there's X days until he's running a story, and do so if he hasn't heard from them. Surely you don't think that media outlets should fail to run stories if the subjects won't talk to them?

  • PD wrote:
    2) Listing the website IP and blocking mail from that IP doesn't prevent anyone from seeing the Peacefire webpage, does it? No.

    Jamie wrote:
    Again, the blocking of that IP number, their website, does not stop a single piece of spam from being sent or received. What it does do is punish the folks at MarketingMasters, whose website can't be seen by RBL subscribers.

    Any questions?
  • > I wonder if anyone's considered sort of a democratic RBL?

    UseNet has something called NoCeM (pronounced No See 'Em), which is essentially "advisory cancel messages". Instead of cancel messages being sent to control by usenet admins, it has advisories sent to the newsgroup itself in periodic postings, with the message id's of messages that get killed by a compliant newsreader (such as gnus). These messages are PGP-signed to authenticate the issuer.

    It still requires a provider that doesn't itself honor NoCeM messages on the spool, as some do, but the nature of usenet makes this somewhat more feasable than it is with mail. The mail server I use (CommuniGate Pro), has support for RBL, but sends all such mail to blacklist-admin, which I can connect to a script that simply tacks on a "X-RBL-Listed" header and sends it on to its recipient. It's a new site right now, so it hasn't received any mail yet, much less spam.

    And if I find my ISP, the phone company, is using the BGP RBL, I'll have the PUC on their asses ASAP :)

  • b[If you don't want Cyberpatrol filtering your connection at the public library, stay off the internet!]b

    In reply to:
    i[If you use an ISP that has MAPS, it is your choice. Only ISP in the area? Then stay off the net if it offends you. They are running a private business and feel that the reduction in spam outweighs the complaints of some users who don't like MAPS]i

  • Right, and I don't know of any tier 1 ISP that would be actually implement this. There is just too many ways that this could hurt the ISP.

    Maybe, but a backbone provider does. ABOVE.NET Read the article.

  • OMFG. MAPS can be fed into router tables, which is what was doing. Read the other 20 comments that have pointed this out.
  • Why don't you open the commitee of unMAPS activities now?
  • The difference between DeCSS and spam software is that it's easy to find geniunely good uses for DeCSS, whereas you'll struggle to find good uses for the spam software.

    It's okay to go after tools which can ONLY do "bad things", particularly if that's all they're designed to do. But if there's significant "good things" which can also be done with the tool, such as with DeCSS, then it's wrong to stop those good uses, and so instead you go after those who choose to use the tool to do "bad things".

    Then, as always, you just have to worry about your definition of "good things" and "bad things". :/
  • by /dev/kev ( 9760 ) on Wednesday December 13, 2000 @09:21PM (#560546) Homepage
    So, what do you do to get Media3 to close down the spammer?

    You don't need to. Just block the spammer's website. This still cuts off the money - the spammer will get less, since they've been RBL'd, and if the spammer goes elsewhere, then the ISP loses their money - but not at the (unnecessary) expense of other customers. Repeat the process with wherever the spammer goes next.

    That's how MAPS should work, by blocking the bad stuff so that RBL users just don't see it. There isn't any need to punish innocent sites who happen to be on the same class C. MAPS should concentrate on blocking spammers and their sites, not trying to twist ISPs arms.

    If MAPS successfully got Media3 to shut down the spammer's site, then MAPS WOULD be dealing in censorship, wouldn't they? They'd no longer be this optional advisory guide you could use, rather, they'd be going around getting websites they don't like shut down. If that's not censorship, I don't know what is.

    MAPS seems to want to have it both ways - to the public: "Oh, we're not censoring anyone", but to M3: "Shut this site down now, or we'll punish you by blocking lots of your sites". I'm sorry, but to me, that's just terrible.
  • Arguments about whether or not RBL is a censor because it doesn't wield the power of a government are sort of missing the point. The point is if it provides a useful list. Censorware is censorware because it provides a very unuseful list. The fact that schools and libraries use it is almost irelevant to its name.

    From what jamie has said, it sounds like RBL isn't so much trying to block spam as trying to apply political pressure to get an ISP to do what it wants.

    Essentially, they're using the fact that hundreds of ISPs suscribe to them and trust them to help them block spam as a club to beat other ISPs into doing what they want. That doesn't seem like a terribly wholesome thing to do to me. I don't want my subscription to be used that way. I simply want them to tell me what sites send spam.

  • by Sloppy ( 14984 ) on Wednesday December 13, 2000 @09:53PM (#560575) Homepage Journal

    This is the difference between locking up the kiddy pornographer and locking up the people that made the high quality photographic paper and the ink used to create the images!

    No. There's one little flaw in your analogy, but it's important.

    It's not like locking up the people who made the photographic paper. It's like choosing to not do business with the people who made the photographic paper, and telling them that you will remove your boycott if they stop selling photographic paper to the kiddy pornographer.

    Nobody's rights are being infringed. Nobody is having force used against them. There's a huge difference between locking someone up and boycotting them.

  • by seebs ( 15766 ) on Wednesday December 13, 2000 @09:18PM (#560588) Homepage
    The problems with censorware are: 1. Inaccurate or undocumented listings. 2. Listings for things other than those said. The RBL has neither of these problems. Media3 is actively and knowingly supporting the people who flood your mailbox with all the crap we call "spam". Does blocking Media3's sites, in many cases at the IP level, result in you getting less spam? Today? No. Today, it just means those sites don't get as much traffic. Tomorrow? Sooner or later, Media3 will have to decide whether it wants to be on the network where spammers do business, or on the network where RBL subscribers do business. If they pick the spammer network, they will eventually be totally removed from the network, as they find their way into more and more blacklists. If they decide they want the other network, they will stop supporting spammers and people who sell spamware. With no way to sell their products, the spamware vendors will stop sending you ads for them. People will stop *buying* the products, because there will be no way to buy them. You will get less spam. It's an educational tool. Media3 has the option of being on the network where you host spammer pages, or on the network that RBL subscribers see. They have made their choice. Your list of sites "also affected" misses the point entirely. Those people are paying Media3, and as long as Media3 makes money, Media3 has no real reason to care whether or not hosting spammer sites is damaging to the rest of the network. If your hosting company is supporting spammers, you will be fucked. Don't buy hosting from companies that are unwilling to terminate spammer websites. The RBL isn't about stopping spam *today*. It's about encouraging the policies that we *absolutely need* if we are to have less spam *tomorrow*. Thanks to the RBL, a number of very large networks have put in strong, effective, anti-spam policies. Every day, you don't get dozens of spams that would once have been sent via netcom. Every day, hundreds of spams that would have advertised sites hosted by companies with a policy just like the Media3 policy *aren't* sent, because those sites got taken down, because the policies got fixed. Media3 is wrong. MAPS is right. Media3 is trying to support the theory that, as long as the actual spam is relay-raped or sent via throwaway dialup accounts, it's not their problem where the page is hosted. MAPS is educating them. As soon as Media3 fixes its policy to unequivocally prohibit the hosting of spamware sites, address list sites, and sites advertised in spam, and starts enforcing that policy, everyone is happy.
  • by Skapare ( 16644 ) on Thursday December 14, 2000 @02:01AM (#560594) Homepage

    You can use RBL w/o an ASN. You just have to run BGP4 and peer with the RBL eBGP4 server and let it route to your black hole address. You then default route everything else out your single backbone connection. No other BGP peering is needed. Since you're not announcing routes (and RBL certainly isn't taking them) you can use a reserved ASN to configure your router.

  • by Lumpish Scholar ( 17107 ) on Wednesday December 13, 2000 @10:24PM (#560605) Homepage Journal
    Can an ISP, instead of filtering mail from "bad" sites, add identifying header lines to messages from such hosts? That way, users could add fiters to block such messages, but have filters with a higher precedence to allow mail from friends and family. (I know this requires a fair level of expertise. Also not clear how you could set it up so users wouldn't even have to download spam.)
  • by adolf ( 21054 ) <> on Wednesday December 13, 2000 @10:29PM (#560637) Journal
    Spam is bad, to some people. To some others, it is ok. And still others appreciate it.

    Pornography is bad, to some people. To some others, it is ok. And still others appreciate it.

    DeCSS is bad, to some people. To some others, it is ok. And still others appreciate it.

    We here at slashdot tend to view a given subject only from the perspective which best serves our own interests. We are as selfish, prejudice, maliciously reactionary, and sublimely manipulative as any of the MPAA, the spamware folks, or the extremist portion of the Christian Right.

    Rather than attempt to remain reasonable and retain even a hint of impartiality, we react viciously to anything deemed to be infringing upon on our rights, with absolute disregard to the rights of any others who might be in the way.

    We do this as we sit high upon our assumed intellectual high horse/flimsy house of cards, shouting banters about freedom, goodness, and The Right Thing To Do; cries which typically fall upon deaf ears.

    Witness our views on DeCSS, Censorware, Spamware, MP3 encoders, MP3s themselves, the iOpener, or TiVo's 'exploitation' of the Linux kernel, and try to visualize the other parties' justification (which, in these cases, is -always- legitimate) for whatever it is that they have done to offend the horrid, arrogant, nonsensical beast that is slashdot. In other words, put yourself in their shoes.

    Those who are unwilling to do so are simply afraid of finding that said shoe fits their own foot perfectly, and that they'd hence not be able to remove it from their mouth. This is an obviously unacceptable outcome, given the clear superiority of the average slashdot user (let alone the top 5 percent).

    With such bigotry abounding en masse, it's no wonder they can't hear us.

    Choose your enemies carefully, because that is who you will become. --Lao Tzu
  • by matth ( 22742 ) on Wednesday December 13, 2000 @06:30PM (#560639) Homepage
    I personally feel that MAPS, ORBs are more trouble then they are worth. I used to work for an isp which used orbs and it was really truely nothing more then a headache for the Tech people. People woudl call in wondering why they were not able to get e-mail from someone, or why someone could not get e-mail from them. And most of the time it was ORBS. Another example is that open mail relays are blocked. My own mail server was blocked by ORBS one day. it was fine.. the next day blocked. Never (except for perhaps a few minutes here and there) had it been an open relay, yet orbs had blocked it. When I requested they take it off, they promptly did, but again, there was no reason for it to be put up there!

  • >Nazis vs. Jews

    And, in fine Usenet fashion, the discussion is now over!

  • by Vryl ( 31994 ) on Wednesday December 13, 2000 @09:47PM (#560661) Journal
    How, then, do we apply this strategic analysis concept to our enemy du jour: the Spammer?

    First, we must translate the Five Spheres (or Rings) of the enemy system into modern Net.War counterparts:

    • Sphere 5: Fielded forces-- throwaway AOL accounts, hired consultants, dedicated spam domains
    • Sphere 4: Population-- Spam-related customers, support employees (secretaries, etc.)
    • Sphere 3: Infrastructure-- Primary non-rogue ISPs, Websites, ftp sites, cgi scripts, mail relays, reputation
    • Sphere 2: System Essentials-- Money, bandwidth, telco access, computers
    • Sphere 1: Leadership-- the SpamBoy himself, his partners and business associates
    By alliances, we mean those reciprocal relationships the spammer has formed with: news media (Cyber-Clueless First Amendment activist newbie journalists, for example)
    • other spammers
    • ISPs, whether rogue or non-rogue
    • hacker consultants
    • fringe associates (Meowers, Kook Cabal)
    • banks, business organizations, and other sources of economic power
    • politicians
    We must then examine our assumptions. If our Spammer runs his own ISP, then attacking an AOL account he controls (by complaining to will be of negative value-- a waste of our time and resources. If his ancillary server is somehow "taken down", but his primary SpamServers keep pumping out ECP spam via open NNTP ports worldwide, what will we have gained? If he is (like Gr*bor or our own deeply psychologically troubled Doktor Funway) only marginally rational, abuse and punishment that would persuade a reasonable Yeti to leave the field of battle may only enrage the Bull(shitter) like the pricking of a picador. Finally, if we do not have the necessary intelligence to pinpoint our enemy and her crucial Strategic systems exactly, our efforts will either be wasted entirely, or increased by orders of magnitude over what they could have been with accurate and timely information. In our final strategic translation matrix, we shall endeavor to identify what we mean by a Spammer's Political, Economic and Military powers; as well as the proper role of the semi-tautological Net.War attribute of Information.
    • Political power: news media (online and traditional), lawmakers, friends and acquaintances, usenet Kooks
    • Economic power: cold hard cash earned both legitimately and by Spam; frivolous lawsuits (to tie up opponents' assets/time)
    • Military power: Net.war capabilities of spammer's own systems (mail bombs, Usenet binary bombs); hired gun hackers; open NNTP and mail servers ripe for exploitation
    • Information: Positive and Negative--> Positive: Spammer's ability to gather intel on foes; ability to adapt to changing laws, standards, and software affecting/enabling internet communication; ability to slander and defame enemies and thus provoke them to rash deeds;
    • Negative: the ability to cloak himself in anonymity, pseudonymity, and false faux-open identities, thus denying his enemies that first prerequisite of strategic analysis: identification.
    Freely stolen from: []
  • by crazy_clyde ( 32777 ) on Wednesday December 13, 2000 @11:09PM (#560664)
    The idea that a tool can ONLY do "bad things" is absurd. A tool is a means to an end. AN END. Not a specific intentioned "good" or "bad" end, just AN END. This means the tool has no say in what it actually does, nor the moral consequences of such an act. The tool can only influence how well it performs at that act.

    It's NOT ok to "go after" tools, because it doesn't solve anything. If someone wants to do something, they're going to do it. You can make it difficult by trying to remove a tool that makes that end easy, but two things happen:
    1) A new tool takes it's place.
    2) The general populace stays ignorant of why the end is "bad". All they learn is that the tool that does it is bad, which we've already pointed out to be wrong.
  • by itachi ( 33131 ) <[] [ta] [rengewm]> on Wednesday December 13, 2000 @07:40PM (#560668)
    Censorship is something that can only be conducted by the government. Private organizations such as ISP's or MAPS can choose to carry or not carry whatever they like.

    It's not quite that simple, though. Common carriers, although private organizations, don't have the choice to carry or not carry based on content. Now a local dialup provider is hardly a common carrier, but I would say that a tier one provider really should be a common carrier. After all, a local dialup in Peoria can't reach Bangladesh without crossing some backbone provider's network.

  • by Greg@RageNet ( 39860 ) on Wednesday December 13, 2000 @06:46PM (#560691) Homepage
    Censorship is something that can only be conducted by the government. Private organizations such as ISP's or MAPS can choose to carry or not carry whatever they like. The difference is of course that everyone 'owns' and funds the government which therefore has no right to moral or policical content it makes available. However private individuals have full discression over their own property and how they choose to utilize it.

    If a government library refuses to cary 'Hucklberry fin' because of it's content then that's censorship. However private organizations should not be forced to carry or not carry a given item. You cannot compel me to carry a slashdot bumper sticker on the back of my car claiming that if I refuse I am 'censoring' your right to free speech.

    By the same token you should not be able to force a private entity such as an ISP to carry traffic they choose not to carry, i.e. traffic identified by the MAPS RBL. If you don't like MAPS then don't use their service or use the services of ISP's who do.

    This also carries over to 'censorware'. Government institutions should not censor internet content through manditory filtering. However it's morally acceptable to me for a parent to by some software (that arguably does a poor job) to filter the content on their privately owned computers.

    -- Greg
  • by Greg@RageNet ( 39860 ) on Wednesday December 13, 2000 @09:48PM (#560692) Homepage
    Just a correction, according to spamhaus [] media3 is hosting not 1 but 21 spam sites, the largest on the list, and considering media3 is a grand total of a few class C networks, thats a pretty high percentage of their customers being spammers. My understanding is that it's a similar situation to the AGIS thing awhile ago. media3 won't cancel sites who spam using other accounts to advertise a site on media3. Because media3 won't wipe out these sites it's become quite a spammer's haven.

    -- Greg
  • by alecto ( 42429 ) on Wednesday December 13, 2000 @06:41PM (#560699) Homepage
    They're put on the RBL to punish them for willingly harboring spammers who advertise their sites with stolen services from other providers and clog millions of mailboxes with crap.

    Those who host websites for spammers even after its brought to their attention that they're spamming deserve to be blackholed--I praise the RBL for their continued action in this regard.

    Should they wish to rejoin the RBL using net, they may terminate their spammers and tighten their policies. For those who cry about "free association," remember that subscribing to the RBL is voluntary, and using an ISP that subscribes to them is voluntary. If individuals want their subscription fees to support spam and their packets to be dumped, they're free to subscribed to an RBL'd provider.

  • by radja ( 58949 ) on Thursday December 14, 2000 @12:38AM (#560769) Homepage
    so now there is an effort to pressure on known spammers to stop. Not by rules, regulations and law but by consumer pressure. Everyone here always shouts about how bad regulation and law is.. This is what you get from it.. lawsuits, lawsuits and more lawsuits. make some bloody laws that mandate opt-in for spam, and the whole thing becomes a moot point. But we want self-regulation (well.. not me..). This is the internet self-regulating, and once again people whine about it.

  • by Pseudonym ( 62607 ) on Wednesday December 13, 2000 @08:43PM (#560773)
    Whether or not you think it's right, it's still censorship. Someone is taking it into their own hands to block us from seeing something they don't think we should.

    That couldn't be further from the truth. What's happening is that I decide that someone else has sufficiently similar opinions to mine about what I don't want to see, and ask them to do it for me. That's not censorship, it's outsourcing. Well, I guess you could always call it "self-censorship by proxy" or something equally convoluted.

    Now if the RBL isn't what it advertises to be, that's a different question. But that wouldn't be censorship either, it'd be false advertising.

  • by Convergence ( 64135 ) on Thursday December 14, 2000 @10:22AM (#560777) Homepage Journal
    There are many evils in the world, but we let them continue because to not let them continue would violate privacy, or freedom.

    Incest happens, one way around it is to require that everyplace that allows children is tape recorded to catch the bastards. A simpler and cheaper alternative is to kill all children.

    This is my solution.

    Sometimes, when the only way to stop an evil is to do an even greater evil, the only sane thing to do is nothing.
  • by dunster ( 66386 ) on Wednesday December 13, 2000 @07:18PM (#560778) Homepage
    You are quick off the starting line to point out that the RBL is a voluntary thing. We've heard that before, and it is even true.

    But, this article is about the fact that MAPS uses a very broad brush to paint its spammers. In its zeal to stop spam, it is hurting people and organizations that have never done anything wrong. MAPS has been accused before of being arbitrary with its power, and this is some pretty compelling backup to those accusations.

    Frankly, I wish that a more moderate group than MAPS had taken the lead in writing a blackhole list. I find their definition of spam to be to far-ranging. I find their tactics to be abominable. I find their superior-that-thou attitude to be offensive.

    I hope that press like this will lead an alternative list-group to form, and more press will steer people to it.

    MAPS can hide behind "free association" for a while. But if they continue with practices and policies like this, I suspect that they will find few willing to associate with them.
  • by z4ce ( 67861 ) on Wednesday December 13, 2000 @09:14PM (#560779)
    I was rather shocked as I read RBL only blocks %2 of spam. I had heard it blocked more around %90 of spam. As I clicked the article I learned the "independent" study was sponsored by at&t's brightmail. Mindcraft anyone, please?
  • by wowbagger ( 69688 ) on Wednesday December 13, 2000 @07:08PM (#560784) Homepage Journal
    Here's some other interesting data on Media3:'s ranking of spam supporters []

    Media3's list of active spamhausen []

    OK, on three, let's have a great big "Awww" for poor widdle Media3.

    1....2....3.... BPPPPPPT!
  • by wowbagger ( 69688 ) on Wednesday December 13, 2000 @06:59PM (#560785) Homepage Journal
    Let's review:
    1. Media3 sells connectivity to a spammer
    2. Spammer sets up web site on that connection
    3. Spammer sends spam (by relay raping other peoples gear), advertising products that are sold on the Web site

    Now, what can we do to end the spam?
    • Play whack-a-mole on open relays? Nope
    • Ignore it? Nope

    No, you follow the money: the spammer makes his money when morons go to the web site and by the spamware. Kill the web site, kill the cash flow, kill the spammer's business.

    Now, places like Media3 will say "But we aren't spamming!" No, but they are giving aid and comfort to the enemy. So, what do you do to get Media3 to close down the spammer?

    Follow the money

    You make it unprofitable for Media3 to host the spammer. You do this by driving business away from Media3. You do that by blackholing enough of their customers that Media3 says "We are losing money doing this. Let's not do this anymore!"

    Rememer Spamford Wallace, the uberspammer? Ageis communications was providing with bandwidth, and by God they weren't going to stop. Then they got blackholed, and many of their customers left. Faced with losing money, they dropped Spamford like a hot rock.

    Remember: follow the money. It's always about the money. If somebody says it's not about the money, it's about the money.

    I say, "GO MAPS GO!"
  • by Keefesis ( 70341 ) <> on Wednesday December 13, 2000 @06:48PM (#560786)
    I run a mail server and employ the MAPS's RBL and ORBS's DULs to save me the headache of some spam. A while ago I was informed of ORBS's encounters with and Paulie Vix. I think Paul Vix is an incredible horrible person and his methods are evil ( routers were advertising routes for ORBS, then dropping any packets they attracted according to the orbs site.)ORBS [] seems to have stopped proclaiming the evilness of MAPS openly, but you can still see many statements on the site leading to that assumption. So, this will not stop me from using RBL, it works for me, as my web traffic is not in any way related to my mail traffic or MAPS. I don't endorse Paul Vix or MAPS, but the level of spam I recieve is disgusting, anything I can do to cut down on it I will. As a matter of fact, I personally block any spamming servers (i.e. that the RBL's and DUL's refuse to block, yet it seems I get more and more SPAM every day. Perhaps we need more of those exocution-style killings of spammers like we had in MA a few years back.
  • by kevin805 ( 84623 ) on Thursday December 14, 2000 @01:21AM (#560806) Homepage
    If someone took out an ad in the newspaper and said, "Bennet Haselton" is a spammer, that would be libel. How is it different to say, "Here's a list of sites run by spammers ... ..."? Well, is, Bennet Haselton runs, so they're saying he's a spammer, which he isn't.

    It's not about whether it's reasonable to twist the arms of the hosting companies, it's about misrepresenting what it is you're providing. If a censorware package included a category that said "anti-filtering sites or redirect services", and said you better leave it turned on, that wouldn't be a problem. But when they list all the anti-filtering sites, babelfish, anonymizer and so-on in every category, that's misrepresenting what you're doing.

    I read some of MAPS site and it implies that it's pretty hard to get on the list without doing something you shouldn't be. But this isn't the case. "A site being advertised as a target on multiple spam messages may be placed on the MAPS RBL. We assume that the site knows that it is being advertised in this manner". That's a pretty big assumption when you go blocking class C's. I can't find any mention of using the RBL for punishing ISPs as they seem to be doing in this case. Do all their subscribers know they are using it to punish ISPs? Would those subscribers continue to use the RBL if they knew it was blocking large numbers of sites that have no connection to spam other than having the same ISP?

    I'm really curious what MAPS contract looks like. They don't have it up on their webpage, and it's the only thing that would exactly address what they claim their service is. Personally, I'd love it if sites would cancel an account if it's at all connected to spamming, even if it isn't where it's sent from. I know geocities does because I've forwarded a few pieces of spam to abuse there. I don't think I'd want the "feature" of being prevented from viewing the sites of anyone hosted on a server that is also used by a spammer.
  • by frankie ( 91710 ) on Thursday December 14, 2000 @07:34AM (#560818) Journal
    They aren't harboring spammers, but they are harboring spam-tool makers.

    The main problem is that this level of blocking goes far beyond the original intent [] of the RBL. The Blackhole was only supposed to block known current sources of spam. Over the years it has experienced mission creep [] and now goes after spam accomplices (e.g. affiliated web pages & email boxes) as well as accessories [] (e.g. email harvesting software). That is too many tasks for a single list!

    RBL's original mission is a good idea, and could even be palatable to major backbone providers. For example, imagine if Verizon [] and UUnet [] were subscribers to the more-focused version. Millions of people would be better off instantly. Within months, RBL would put itself out of business -- anyone on the list would scramble like mad to get off or else go out of business from lack of traffic.

    MAPS has already implemented multiple parallel lists -- RBL, RSS, DUL, etc. It's time to break up the RBL into 3 separate components with appropriately narrow targets.

  • by Temporal ( 96070 ) on Wednesday December 13, 2000 @09:38PM (#560823) Journal

    By your logic, the United Nations should start killing Iraqi men, women, and children until Sadam Hussein steps down. Hey, it would work. Once all the citizens are dead, Sadam will have no one to rule over, and will thus no longer have power.

    By your logic, it is perfectly reasonable for the RIAA to shut down Napster. After all, Napster is harboring far more copyright infringers than Media3 is hosting spammers.

    By your logic, if I go on a shooting rampage and kill 14 people in my dorm, not only am *I* to blame, but so is everyone else in the dorm, as well as the dorm supervisor, the University of Minnesota, my parents, my friends, and, hell, Slashdot even.

    I mean, I've seen double-standards, but this is rediculous. And you got score 5, even. Huh.


  • by MattW ( 97290 ) <> on Wednesday December 13, 2000 @09:29PM (#560824) Homepage
    (1) If you're a bulk provider, with hundreds of web sites, it isn't even worth batting an eye to keep hosting a spam software provider. If they wanted to follow the money, they may refuse to remove them, but they certainly wouldn't defend them when MAPS came knocking. MAPS scares providers.

    (2) How much is enough? Should MAPS block every single IP address that the provider has, just to force them to stop hosting the software seller? How many innocent sites have to be taken down in the name of shutting down the spammers? And do you really think people looking for spamming software won't be able to find it because you shut this down? When these software sellers move, should we shut down a thousand more? Will you feel the same when its YOU?

    (3) No one ever stops to think how insidiously powerful MAPS has grown. As their filters have become useful, it has gone far beyond good sysadmins using them to protect their users -- it has gone corporate, with millions of addresses obeying the filters MAPS dishes out. What happens when it is abused?

    Think that won't happen? Wrong, it already has. MAPS blocked 209.211.253/24, because it hurt a lot more than just blocking, or even I shouldn't need to repeat it, Jamie made a great point: Paul Vixie said MAPS contacts all blocked websites before blocking them. Ah, but that must date back to before MAPS was so powerful, such an icon of internet protection, with supporters lining up to buy them lawyers.

    (4) MAPS is tied far too closely with AboveNet. The fact that Vixie was an Abovenet VP (who knows what he is with Metromedia, who bought Abovenet), should absolutely chill people. There's something absolutely creepy about the power to block email to 40% of addresses being thus controlled. I'm sure the small-time sysadmins would remove MAPS configs from sendmail if it were abused -- but would corporations be so quick to follow? With change control procedures, possibly even total apathy?

    At this point, a lot of these points have been intentionally sensationalized to provoke a bit of thought. I think that MAPS has just selected an overbroad block to filter this time -- and I agree with filtering spam software sales. You support spam, down you go. But I also think that the cheerleading, here and elsewhere, and the lack of concern over the fact that MAPS has run roughshod over so many innocent sites, shows that people have a tendency to follow net luminaries far too blindly. If you're going to run MAPS filters, then you're handing that project power. Best keep an eye on that, if you don't want to contribute to the abuse of that power.
  • by Error27 ( 100234 ) <.error27. .at.> on Wednesday December 13, 2000 @10:25PM (#560836) Homepage Journal
    I don't agree with the fact that the people are trying to sell email addresses. But even here I'm not sure that what maps is trying to do is worthwhile. Or the right thing. The internet interprets cencorships as damage and routes around it.

    However I can not fault them for selling spamming software. The right to create and distribute software is a sacred right. I get so frustrated at the people who don't treasure this right.

    I believe that no one has the right to tell someone not to create a piece of software. Patents that stop people writing software are evil. Laws that stop people writing software are wrong. People that stop people from writing software are wrong.

    I get frustrated by reading the comments about software sometimes. A month ago someone created a visual basic clone for Linux and people complained about it. Not that it was poorly written but just that they didn't want a visual basic clone. People complain that Mozilla have been goofing off adding features instead of just working on gecko. Someone today said that Open Source was making software suck more because now 20 year olds were writing software and his post got moderated to a +4 interesting?!?

    The truth is that behind all the laws stopping people from writing software there is a person writing the law. In the end it's always a matter of PEOPLE stopping people from writting software.

    On the other hand, I have to laugh everytime I read somewhere that open source software will never be able to do this thing or that thing. People didn't think Linux would scale. People didn't Mozilla would ever get finished. People don't think that Linux will succeed on the Desktop. I have to laugh because I know that someone is going to go out and do the things that were thought imposible. The fact is it is so much easier for some one to program something than to stop every other person from programming something. This means that when I say Linux can never run on a Ti93 I'm almost certain to be wrong because it's easier for someone to make linux run on a ti93 than it is for me to stop them.

    For a technical problem there is a technical solution. There are more effective ways to block email than MAPS. If you think visual basic is not good then write your own better replacement. If you don't like the features in mozilla then use kmeleon ( If you don't like open source programs because they were written by 20 year olds then write your own. Gnome wouldn't be better off if people stopped writing KDE apps and KDE wouldn't be better if people stopped writing gnome apps.

    The solution is not to try stop software from being written. That's just playing hit the mole. The solution is to write MORE software that fixes the problem. More KDE apps. More Gnome apps. And if you agree with the +4 guy then you want more software written by old people.

    Writing software is sacred right and an excersize in free speech.

  • by Error27 ( 100234 ) <.error27. .at.> on Thursday December 14, 2000 @07:34AM (#560837) Homepage Journal
    It's not a choice to use MAPS because a back bone site uses it so it's forced onto users.

    If they just block people with misconfigured routers or people who spam that's not censorship.

    But when people want to get spamming programs or email addresses and they can't because MAPS is blocking it that's censorship. Email addresses are private information and I don't mind them trying to censor that. I think it's pointless but I don't mind. I mind that they are trying to block people from getting to software though. And I mind that they are hurting inocent web site at the same time.

    Basically censorship is when you block two people who want to communicate from doing so based on the content of what they are talking about. Sometimes that's not a bad thing to try do. But mostly the internet routes around censorship.

  • by scotch ( 102596 ) on Wednesday December 13, 2000 @07:25PM (#560843) Homepage
    Great advice to give my mother or grandmother one day...

    ... snip ... I'm sick and tired of hearing about everyone's grandmothers, how their grandmothers can't use computers, how we should be thinking of grandmothers for every computer problem anyone deals with here. Grandmas can get their own goddamn website - this is slashdot, news for nerds, not news for grandmas. Why don't you go to [] to complain about how your grandma can't do a goddamn thing for herself. I don't give a shit about your grandma, and when I use a computer or develop software as a hobby, your grandma doesn't even enter into the equation

    No offense to your grandmother, of course

  • by Kagato ( 116051 ) on Thursday December 14, 2000 @07:32AM (#560871)
    I just want to hear Paul Vixie say: I've taken down bigger men than you Picard!
  • Check this [] out. Wow, I was thinking MAPS was being a bit strongarmed, but now I know how deep Media3 is in their own shit. I sincerely hope Qwest finds out about this, and puts some pressure on them. Unfortunately, I don't think that's likely.

  • by fmouse ( 130442 ) on Wednesday December 13, 2000 @09:24PM (#560898) Homepage
    If it were only spammers whose websites were in the RBL it would be one thing. Jamie's point is that the escalation of MAPS' actions with the RBL to block entire class C's, coupled with the use of the router BGP to stop all traffic to and from RBL-listed addresses, effectively prevents access to a lot of legitimate sites from within the network space of providers like AboveNet, and this constitutes censorship, albeit more of the nature of killing innocent bystanders than actively going after these sites because of some mis-begotten assumption about their contents. Censorship is still censorship, whether it's accidental or intentionally targeted.

    Apparently AboveNet also failed to inform its customers, or prospective customers via its website, that portions of the Internet would be dark to them because of an action by an intermediate provider (AboveNet) against another intermediate provider (Media3). This ain't the way it's done, folks! As much as I hate spam (and I use the RBL, DUL and RSS to block on port 25) this breaks the Internet.

    IMHO, even though it seems that AboveNet has stopped BGP blocking of RBL-listed sites, at least for the moment, they owe an apology and explanantion to their customers, Media3's non-spamware customers, and to the Internet community at large.

  • by pjrc ( 134994 ) <> on Thursday December 14, 2000 @02:05AM (#560919) Homepage Journal
    So, it isn't like just providing the photo paper and ink to the kiddy porno makers... it is like providing the building, cameras, film, video-feed and streaming servers for kiddy pornographers - knowing full well what they are doing - and then being surprised when people are upset with you.

    Fine, lynch 'em. Tar and feather! The bastards deserve it!

    In fact, bust down the doors of all their neighbors, yank those folks off their couchs and their kids away from their game consoles, and lynch them too.

    They're living in same appartment complex (Class C IP address range), so let's crucify everyone in the surrounding area, so that the apt complex managers who tolerated the porographers will lose money and noone will move back in.

  • by Arrogant-Bastard ( 141720 ) on Thursday December 14, 2000 @02:43AM (#560924)
    One way to censor a viewpoint you don't like is to suppress it.

    An equally effective way is to drown it out with your own message.

    And that is precisely the effect of spam. It overran Usenet years ago, rendering newsgroups which had functioned nicely for years useless. It's now overrunning the mail systems of ISPs, individuals and organizations in the same fashion.

    Moreover, some companies/individuals have chosen to profit from this unethical activity, and in have in fact lent their active support to it. These companies/individuals should not be surprised when the community attempts to defend itself from their actions by barring their traffic.

    So let's be clear on who the enemy are:

    1. Spammers
    2. Those who hire spammers.
    3. Those who write spamware.
    4. Those who provide hosting, connectivity, mail, or other services to 1-3.

    These are the entities responsible for the floods of spam that clog mailboxes and mail servers; it is with them that the problem lies, not with the valiant attempt by MAPS to address it.
  • by dizee ( 143832 ) on Wednesday December 13, 2000 @08:33PM (#560933) Homepage
    So that I can get on the best of both worlds, I've seperated my response by posting attitudes. Those of you interested in only the appropriate attitudes can check the label at the top of each paragraph to determine whether or not to read that particular paragraph. Okay:

    The MAPS RBL is used for blocking spam. There are rulesets you can add to sendmail to make it check a reverse DNS lookup if you'd like to verify reverse entries exist. You can change it just slightly to make it query something like, and, depending on the result, allow or reject the mail. And that's how the MAPS RBL database works. It works via DNS.

    This only blocks SMTP ****MAIL****, not websites. What kind of bullshit is that? "They can't go to their websites" blah blah blah, some more stuff i made up, blah blah blah.

    I suppose it would be possible to alter bind to double-query and check the MAPS RBL for the ip and then return HOST_NOT_FOUND if it's blacklisted by MAPS, but what's the point? This is just pure punishment, not even on the same track as trying to cut down on spam. I seriously doubt many (if any) ISPs are actually resorting to something like this. And if MAPS is actually promoting doing this, then they really need a slap in the face, or a rude awakening or something.

    So I believe this is when you update your article, say enough people convinced you you had absolutely no clue what you're talking about, and you remove the text of the article, and then you put it back up later because people bitched at you for taking it down because they wanted to see what everyone was making fun of you for and maybe get it on the action.


    "I would kill everyone in this room for a drop of sweet beer."
  • by dizee ( 143832 ) on Thursday December 14, 2000 @06:53AM (#560934) Homepage
    Ignorant, eh?

    Look, I use MAPS, and before I even thought of using it, I went to their webpage, and yeah, I researched it. I read a lot of stuff there before deciding to use the MAPS RBL on our mail server.

    I never once saw the multihop eBGP4 while reading the info there. In fact, the whole time I spent there, the ONLY information that was all over the page was about blocking SMTP mail, and nothing else. Never once did they even IMPLY that there was another method of using the RBL. There was absolutely no information that I read that suggested otherwise. It looks like they've changed the site around since I was last there several years ago.

    If that makes me ignorant, fine, whatever.

    In any case, using MAPS in this way is just plain wrong. I support only blackholing via mail, not anything else.


    "I would kill everyone in this room for a drop of sweet beer."
  • by ShakaUVM ( 157947 ) on Wednesday December 13, 2000 @07:39PM (#560955) Homepage Journal
    RBL blocking 2 out of 900 spams is pretty bad.

    A friend and I wrote a neural net spam filter using the UCI Machine Learning Database (on spam), that gets 90-95% accuracy on classifying a message as a spam or not-spam. It's integrated with the mail delivery system via procmail, so you can set it up to deliver all Good mails to one mailbox and Spam mails to another.

    It is available (free + open source) at: gz
    The README is at: ME

    For Solarius/Linux only, Windows users need not apply. The system works pretty darn well for a simple neural net, and can be greatly improved, so if anyone is interested in modifying our code, drop us a line! :)

    William Kerney
  • by kevin42 ( 161303 ) on Wednesday December 13, 2000 @06:25PM (#560956) Homepage
    I'm very happy to see ./ finally post an article that surprised me by it's content. This is a very good example of a well thought out and researched article. Please do more like it!
  • by plastickiwi ( 170800 ) on Thursday December 14, 2000 @10:13AM (#560972)
    Wow. All one has to do is mention the name of a canned meat product and Slashdot turns into a slavering pack of censors. All the high-minded rhetoric about "free speech" and "the marketplace of ideas" goes right out the window the moment someone invokes the dreaded "spammer," cousin to pedophiles, disciple of Hitler.

    Someone should inform Pat Robertson or James Dobson about this phenomenon. They're not having as much luck as they'd like in pushing the use of censorware that covertly blocks sites with political content they don't approve. Imagine how happy they'll be when all they have to do to shut down the ACLU's web site, or the Democratic Party's, is set up a bogus spammer haven on the same subnet and then turn themselves in anonymously.

    Hey,for that matter, why not skip the subterfuge and set up a MAPS-like service openly advocating censorship? All you'd have to do is control one decent-sized ISP by purchasing it or packing its board of directors, block its users' access to everything you don't like, and then threaten all the other ISPs with blackholing if they don't block your list of censored sites too.

    Let's start with everyone's favorite hot button, kiddie porn. I'm sure with enough public relations noise we could convince AOL or some other large ISP to block every IP number in the same subnet as some site with questionable pictures of minors. From there, we could just let the blackmail flow.....

  • My favorite solution was back when I used Eudora 3.0. I had it filter any mail that was not addressed to me into a folder, and invariably it was all spam. Then, I forwarded all those addresses to each other so they would get picked up by the mailing lists and cause a nice storm of autoresponders mailing each other.

    Hooooowwweeeeee! Boy, did they take me off their list, and a few of those sites seemed to be unavailable for a day or so.

    Hopefully that prevented those last few people from hearing about those great money making schemes that are making everyone rich these days. Don't want those fantastic secrets spreading too far!!
  • by CritterNYC ( 190163 ) on Wednesday December 13, 2000 @07:52PM (#560993) Homepage
    They aren't harboring spammers, but they are harboring spam-tool makers. And this isn't software that CAN be used to spam. It is software that is DESIGNED to extract email addresses and then 'stealth' send them... ie, send it illegally using hijacked equipment without getting caught. Your anaolgy would be correct if they were blocking, say, sendmail's web host... since their software CAN be used for spamming.

    So, it isn't like just providing the photo paper and ink to the kiddy porno makers... it is like providing the building, cameras, film, video-feed and streaming servers for kiddy pornographers - knowing full well what they are doing - and then being surprised when people are upset with you.
  • by CritterNYC ( 190163 ) on Wednesday December 13, 2000 @07:59PM (#560994) Homepage
    In this case, the "bad" website sells software which could be used to spam.

    Sendmail could be used to spam. This website sells software that is DESIGNED to extract email addresses and then stealth email them, most likely through hijacked mail servers with forged headers and from addresses.

    What I don't get is why Media3 isn't happy to change their AUP and dump the site. Afterall, the bulk email software is probably being used against Media3's own mail servers by spammers using the software. Kinda like a gun shop selling a gun to a guy who tells them he's going to rob the gun store with it.
  • by ckedge ( 192996 ) on Wednesday December 13, 2000 @07:09PM (#561001) Journal

    They're not harboring spammers!! This is about someone who makes a piece of software that can be used to spam. This is the difference between locking up the kiddy pornographer and locking up the people that made the high quality photographic paper and the ink used to create the images!

    This is not right.

  • by ckedge ( 192996 ) on Thursday December 14, 2000 @01:56AM (#561002) Journal
    > and locking up the people that made the high quality photographic paper and the ink used to create the images!

    WRT the replies: The analogy between paper makers and these guys may not be 100%, and I completely understand you not liking the fact that this software is available, and I agree technically that you have a right to block anyone you choose, and that the RBL is just a list of people who have done a set of things. An 'advisory'.

    Hell if you want to blackhole Yahoo for some screwball reason, there's nothing stopping you. Except your own customers and clients abandoning *you* yourself!

    But I will strongly argue with people who want to make 'certain software' illegal or unobtainable, where 'certain' can be a nice big fuzzy thing on the slippery slope to who the hell knows where. (Do you also RBL people who host databases of actual viruses? Why not? Oh, just the once that you decide have 'evil' intentions at heart, eh? That's nice and clear cut!) After arguing philosophy with you and trying to persuade everyone else listening in, the next thing is to apply the similar pressure to you that you are applying to them.

    At this point I'm dropping RBL, and I won't deal with anyone who is using it. This is no longer "prevention", nor "applying pressure", this is extortion, not simply against the person who owns the building where handguns are made, but also the other 1000 people that live in other buildings owned by the same landlord. After handguns, then what? Hunting rifles? Cars? Baseball bats? Big ugly dogs?

    "That was the line back there, and you stepped over it..."

  • by grammar nazi ( 197303 ) on Wednesday December 13, 2000 @07:14PM (#561005) Journal
    I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations."- James Madison
    Read this once. Next, reread it. I believe this quote to be very pertinent to internet censorship at both a legal level and at a commercial level (as the above article may suggest).
  • by happystink ( 204158 ) on Wednesday December 13, 2000 @10:35PM (#561011)
    I can't believe how many people are just re-iterating what the RBL does, in case we didn't read the article (like them) and don't know. Slashdot discussion is the worst, everyone's an expert, without even having read the story.


  • by Clownburner ( 257523 ) on Wednesday December 13, 2000 @08:50PM (#561073)
    You say that the system achieves 90-95% accuracy, but then your README file says "The accuracy isn't very good because the training set wasn't very amenable to personal emails"

    So what gives? Does it work, or not?

    As for MAPS, the low hit rate is because it's based on DNS, and the number of unsecured mail servers approaches infinity. You just can't catch 'em as fast as they pop up, you really can't. Searching the text of the email (as your program does) is a better solution but one that can only be adequately implemented in a highly distributed way (i.e., at the client or possibly mailserver level). If you're an ISP and deal with 3 million SPAMs a day, processing the text isn't computationally desirable.


"Oh my! An `inflammatory attitude' in alt.flame? Never heard of such a thing..." -- Allen Gwinn, allen@sulaco.Sigma.COM