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Re: Relays, Blacklists, and Laws

  • From: Anders Andersson < >
  • Date: Mon, 18 Jun 2001 23:05:25 +0200 (MET DST)

Paul Wouters paul@localhost wrote:
>You don't need to worry about this. MAPS will always be legally allowed
>to publish all their legal documents. So it is trivial to publish a list
>of people who are sueing or sued MAPS.

Wasn't ORBS legally allowed to publish legal documents pertaining
to their case in New Zealand?  If they were, why was ORBS still
essentially sued out of existance?

My point being, blacklisting those who are happy to sue MAPS or
any other blacklisting service in order to obtain an injunction
or a restraining order is useful only as a preventive measure,
not as corrective action to be implemented the very day MAPS
says "sorry guys, but for reasons beyond our control we can no
longer provide any of our blacklisting services".  Even with a
separate blacklist for YesMail and others who have threatened
MAPS in the past, we need MAPS to stay online to tell us about
all the other petty spammers who simply haven't dared to take
legal action.

And, if it's indeed trivial to publish such a list, why isn't it
being done already (yes, in the DNS)?  I have seen Usenet News
articles listing various IP address ranges of the offending ISP
right after a TRO has been issued against MAPS, but is anybody
there to collect them and keep track of any offenders past and
present?  For such a list to be an effective deterrant, it must
be implemented by most MAPS users in their own mail gateways
well before the need becomes imminent.  When your house catches
fire, it's a little too late to hurry down to the store to buy
fire-proof insulation and a new fire alarm, especially if all
your neighbours' houses have caught fire at the same time and
the store is out of stock on those items...

Also, I don't consider the eventual withdrawal of a lawsuit a
sufficient reason to unlist the offending ISP.  The issue is
not whether their case had any "merit" in the court or how the
case was eventually resolved, but what tactical measures the
ISP is capable of.  If their problem is that they can't send
e-mail to me, they have no business suing MAPS for that in the
first place, and they should not trick themselves to believe
that they can bring a lawsuit and then retract it in case they
are unsuccessful, without any risk to their own reputation.

Now, I do expect MAPS to withstand a lot more legal pressure
than ORBS could, because MAPS has a strong organization with
several people involved (I don't know whether Alan Brown had
any direct help from others with ORBS).  Still, since MAPS has
evolved into an essential operative service to those trying to
stem the flood of spam, it's a good idea to take extra care to
reduce the risk of disaster due to a legal mishap.  If a U.S.
court suddenly declares all of MAPS illegal, are there back-up
services on stand-by in other countries to resume operation
within a few hours, _under the same domain name_?

Anders Andersson, Dept. of Computer Systems, Uppsala University
Paper Mail: Box 325, S-751 05 UPPSALA, Sweden
Phone: +46 18 4713170   EMail: andersa@localhost

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