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MAPS RBL Is Now Censorware (Updated)

jamie posted more than 13 years ago | from the seeing-pink dept.

Censorship 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 MarketingMasters.com. Their IP number is 209.211.253.74, which is in the Media3 ClassC which was blocked in June. You can look them up on the RBL at http://mail-abuse.org/cgi-bin/ lookup?209.211.253.74.

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 209.211.253.169, you'll see exactly the same message and same rationale.

And 209.211.253.169 is not a spam Web site. It's otherwise known as Peacefire.org, 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:

  • FulfilledLives.com, "the place for women and girls," about spirituality and relationships.
  • DesktopHeaven.com, Windows themes, screensavers, wallpaper.
  • TownOfCary.org, the official website for the town of Cary, North Carolina.
  • StudioZito.com, yet another Web site-designer.
  • Crossalizer.de, a music site which points out (in German) that it's a victim of an anti-spam initiative, and thus has moved to Crossalizer.com.
  • StrikeMore.com, bowling tips and schedules.
  • NewTechWellness.com: "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.
  • ElaineCoffman.com and DianaPalmer.com -- both are authors of romance novels.
    And finally,
  • CraftersCommunity.com. "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 www.peacefire.org and was able to do "ping www.above.net" and "ping home.cnet.com" and "ping www.infoworld.com" despite the fact that that traceroute on all of these sites shows that they are hooked up via above.net.

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.

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Idiot (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#560438)

Why can't you morons actually do some RESEARCH? MAPS RBL does not block ANYONE from accessing ANY web sites.. it blocks incoming mail sourcing from MAIL SERVERS listed in the RBL, get your facts right before you post crap like this..

Re:A compelling argument... (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#560443)

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.

This really has gotten out of hand.. (1)

defile (1059) | more than 13 years ago | (#560458)

I'm totally pro-blacklisting mail servers that are pro-spammer, but don't you think this is going a bit too far?

I certainly didn't think I'd be signing up for something of this magnitude by subscribing to these blacklists.

I'm sure Paul Vixie is a nice guy and all, but in my professional life as a sys admin, whenever I come across his name I know I'm in for trouble. cron and named holes? Vixie anyone? This just adds to his legacy, if you ask me.

This is just a little vigilante group that has become obsessed with the power they have. Maybe you've gone too far, guys? Spammers suck and deserve to die, but censorship really does more harm than good.

More power to em! (1)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 13 years ago | (#560463)

Ok, a few innocent hosting customers are getting their MAIL blocked to MAPS subscribers. If they don't like it they should either pressure their hosting company to get get the spammers off their IP block or move their account to a more reputable hosting outfit. Moving would probably be the more effective option.

Hiding spammers among innocents is about as ethical as hiding military targets in civilian areas and whining when civilians take collateral dammage. Don't blame the fighter pilots whose bombs miss, blame the cowards using their own civilians as a shield.

Personally I think that blocking ALL access to spam related address is the only way to stop the problem. After all, AOL/MSN accounts are an inexaustable resource to originate the crap from, but it has to be able to point to a reasonably stable address if they are to profit from their wickedness. Blocking access to sites that are promoted by spam or sell spam related products and services is required for any campaign against it to succeed.

Spammers, and nobody else for that matter, has a RIGHT to send traffic across or into another's network without their consent. If those of us who detest spam wish to exercise our right of free association to choose NOT to associate with someone, let nobody speak against it.

Re:Huh??? (1)

Sabalon (1684) | more than 13 years ago | (#560466)

Let me explain it:

- peacefire is blocked by MAPS.
- anyone who subscribes to MAPS or whose ISP subscribes to MAPS will not be able to get e-mail from peacefire. Sure - an individual may choose not to use MAPS, but if you get your mail via your ISP and they use MAPS - you're screwed.
- peacefire has not spammed anyone...they just happen to have an IP in the same class C as some other domain that MAPS doesn't like.

As for the Website thing - I believe on that sentence where it says it block innocent websites, it should have said innocent domains, or they were just comparing what MAPS is doing to other censorware junk.

Is the RBL really being used for HTTP? (2)

copito (1846) | more than 13 years ago | (#560468)

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

It seems much more likely that Above.net 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.
--

The problem is the innocent victims (3)

David Jao (2759) | more than 13 years ago | (#560477)

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 peacefire.org in the RBL.

This isn't right (1)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 13 years ago | (#560479)

Perens.com goes through Above.net to get to most of the net. I can get to the RBL-ed sites just fine. The only thing those sites can't do is deliver me mail.

Thanks

Bruce

Re:That was the old system (1)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 13 years ago | (#560480)

No. I clicked on that list of links and viewed the pages. I ran traceroute and saw that I was getting to them through above.net .

Thanks

Bruce

Re:Look again (1)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 13 years ago | (#560481)

Look at the traceroute output I published above.

Re:That doesn't prove anything (1)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 13 years ago | (#560482)

OK, publish the traceroute output so we can figure out where things stop.

I don't believe so much in my own fame that I think Above.net has special rules in its routers for me. What a laugh!

Thanks

Bruce

Moderate down, I'm wrong. (1)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 13 years ago | (#560483)

Darn. I'm wrong. I typed in the wrong host. I'm human. Moderate down please.

Thanks

Bruce

Re:services like this (2)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 13 years ago | (#560489)

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

Thanks

Bruce

Re:A compelling argument... (2)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 13 years ago | (#560490)

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 Above.net today. I can click on those links and see them. Traceroute tells me I'm going through above.net .

Bruce

Re:Exactly (2)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 13 years ago | (#560491)

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!

Bruce

Re:services like this (2)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 13 years ago | (#560492)

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.

Thanks

Bruce

Re:RBL - What a hosed concept (2)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 13 years ago | (#560493)

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

Thanks

Bruce

Oops. Big oops. (2)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 13 years ago | (#560494)

It's marketingmasters.com, not mediamasters. I've led you astray. Sorry.

Re:Exactly (3)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 13 years ago | (#560498)

And then, you can turn the RBL off. Victims of Censorware can't turn it off because they aren't allowed to do so.

Bruce

Re:This isn't right (3)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 13 years ago | (#560499)

traceroute to MediaMasters.com (204.101.215.149), 30 hops max, 38 byte packets
1 dnai-com.perens.com (216.15.108.185) 21.416 ms 0.832 ms 0.703 ms
2 dnai-216-15-96-1.cust.dnai.com (216.15.96.1) 22.975 ms 12.134 ms 16.915 ms
3 fe3-0-br-1.sjc.dnai.com (207.181.193.1) 22.722 ms 7.364 ms 7.759 ms
4 main2-249-152.sjc.above.net (209.249.152.3) 20.723 ms 9.060 ms 7.091 ms
5 core5-main2-oc3.sjc.above.net (216.200.0.205) 23.190 ms 7.470 ms 7.776 ms 6 core1-core5-oc48.sjc2.above.net (216.200.0.178) 23.403 ms 7.579 ms 7.755 ms
7 ord-sjc-oc12.ord.above.net (207.126.96.117) 67.590 ms 67.780 ms 68.573 ms 8 POS12-0-0.GW2.CHI6.ALTER.NET (157.130.111.89) 70.829 ms 69.470 ms 69.189 ms
9 112.ATM3-0.XR1.CHI6.ALTER.NET (146.188.208.186) 69.099 ms 67.905 ms 69.813 ms
10 291.ATM2-0.TR1.CHI4.ALTER.NET (146.188.208.250) 94.485 ms 95.112 ms 93.882 ms
11 106.ATM7-0.TR1.TOR2.ALTER.NET (146.188.142.74) 95.481 ms 102.600 ms 99.372 ms
12 299.ATM7-0.XR1.TOR3.ALTER.NET (152.63.129.149) 103.557 ms 98.535 ms 98.082 ms
13 190.ATM7-0.GW1.TOR3.ALTER.NET (152.63.129.233) 98.190 ms 100.049 ms 98.933 ms
14 205.150.221.230 (205.150.221.230) 114.641 ms 100.628 ms 103.484 ms
15 mediamasters (204.101.215.149) 102.729 ms 101.457 ms 101.752 ms

So, it's not happening here.

OK, I'm a dunce. (3)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 13 years ago | (#560500)

Bruce perens is human. I typed mediamasters instead of marketingmasters. I am getting to the marketingmasters class C through alter.net rather than above.net .

Bruce

services like this (1)

Al Wold (5038) | more than 13 years ago | (#560509)

I think services like this are really annoying. They are constantly incorrectly filled with "good" hosts and they hardly help prevent any spam, anyway. I especially hate ORBS, as I've had to deal with their crap on a consistent basis. Since any mail that goes through your host that has been through a bad relay causes you to get blocked, it really really sucks.

Exactly (1)

enterfornone (7400) | more than 13 years ago | (#560521)

Anyone who complains about censorware yet trusts MAPS to block spam is a hypocrite. Any time you give someone else the power to control what you can read you are allowing them to take away your freedom.

Remember, if you let them censor the stuff you don't like, soon they will censor the stuff you do. Simple as that.

You don't have the choice. (3)

enterfornone (7400) | more than 13 years ago | (#560523)

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.

Re:"Press time"? (2)

waldoj (8229) | more than 13 years ago | (#560527)

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?

-Waldo

Re:Huh??? (2)

waldoj (8229) | more than 13 years ago | (#560528)

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?

Huh??? (1)

PD (9577) | more than 13 years ago | (#560539)

So what if MAPS lists Peacefire's website?

1) It's just a friggin list. Individuals choose to block the IP's on the list.

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

The article was damn confusing, claiming that the Marketing Master's website cannot be seen by RBL subscribers. I thought the RBL was supposed to block the MAIL, not the WEBSITE.

Chalk it up to "yet another dumass writes an ill-considered story."

Jamie, get a grip (1)

consumer (9588) | more than 13 years ago | (#560540)

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.

There are several ways to use RBL. Using sendmail to implement RBL just blocks e-mail from those sites. So, it's exactly the opposite of what you said - it stops spam from those sites but doesn't block their web pages from being viewed.

Maybe you should take a little more time to understand the story before you try to turn it into a piece of drama.

Security Focus Listservs saw this comming (1)

LWolenczak (10527) | more than 13 years ago | (#560556)

I remember maybe.... 6 or 8 months ago, One of the Security Focus listserves had a decussion about realtime blacklists and weather they should be used, I remember reading several opinions that said stuff like this would happen, it seems they were right..

Re:services like this (1)

um... Lucas (13147) | more than 13 years ago | (#560565)

you can get my number blocked, but if my friend also uses the same LEC as you, you're not entitled to have him unable to receive my phone calls as well. The RBL, as it's implemented, isn't granular enough. That's my issue with it. The choice to use the RBL should be that of the end user (the person who the email account was set up on behalf of), no one else.

Re:Exactly (2)

um... Lucas (13147) | more than 13 years ago | (#560568)

Say my ISP uses RBL, specifically how am i supposed to "turn it off"?

Switch ISPs? Not likely, because there's only a few DSL providers around here and they all string lines from Verizon. And there's only two possibilities (AFAIK) for cable access.

If they use MAPS and people in my address books' addresses get added to list, then effectively i have no recourse. I can switch ISPs, but how will i even know what's occuring until a couple days go by and i get a phonecall saying "hey, why haven't you responded to my email?"

ISPs, sendmail developers, RBLer's, someone's got to make a system where users opt in and opt out individually. For instance, when signing up for an account of any sort with an ISP, their web page or CSR could plainly ask "would you like your mailbox to be protected from spam using the RBL?", provide an explanation if they don't know what it is and let each customer choose for themself.

Re:services like this (2)

um... Lucas (13147) | more than 13 years ago | (#560569)

Using a non-computer analogy: you don't. You can come over to my house and say "Hey, you know your doors unlocked?" but you can't come in and change the locks on me just to insure that you know that my house is now "safe".

Re:Exactly (2)

um... Lucas (13147) | more than 13 years ago | (#560570)

Great advice to give my mother or grandmother one day...

"Yeah, I know you like using Netscape as your intenet application. And yeah, i know, i took you a few months to learn that you could click an address and it would be added into your address book, let alone how long it took you to learn to create rules to filter your messages between your "personal", "business", and "possible spam" folders, non of that matters now. You need to use Hotmail from now on. Or yahoo mail. You can't bring your address book or sent mail or received mail folders with you either. Oh no, don't worry you didn't do anything wrong. It's just that someone else that happens to use the same internet provider as you did, which is why none of your friends can get your emails...."

Can you see my point from a less elitist mind set, now? And maybe help come up with an idea that doesn't punish innocent people at the same time as punishing "guily" people? Not everyone in the world knows works at an ISP, or owns their own domain, or even edits their own DNS records. A solution to SPAM take that into account.

Re:Huh? (1)

boots@work (17305) | more than 13 years ago | (#560606)

Most subscribers use the RBL from their mail server as a way of deciding whether to accept connections or forward mail.

However, it can also be fed directly into routers through eBGP4 [mail-abuse.org] . I think larger networks might be more likely to use it that way. In this case, the blacklisted addresses simply become unroutable, and not even web access to the domain will work.

This only happens if your network, or your upstream, voluntarily and consciously decides they want to follow MAPS's advice about abusive networks.
--
Martin

Armchair QBing makes me sick. (1)

augustz (18082) | more than 13 years ago | (#560617)

I for one like that a few people with a vision are sticking to their guns. They don't like spam and are working to stop it. If you don't like spam, use the FREE product they offer, if you do like spam signup at hotmail.com and disable the RBL on you account and you will be flooded.

Frankly, unless you've got a better solution, and are actually spending the time to do it, shut up. I'm tired of hearing armchair quarterbacking by people who are probably sitting in their armchairs. Especially if it is attacking one of the few effective tools to combat spam.

So right on to Vixie and the rest of the crew at MAPS. You've got an opinion which you share on a list, and we can all choose to follow it or not.

MAPS has the right spirit. (1)

augustz (18082) | more than 13 years ago | (#560618)

Voluntary opinions, no thugs at your door or lawyers involved. It appears that the authors solution to Spam is to get rid of organizations like MAPS and bring in something better. Either it'll be a group like OFTEL in the UK which caves in to everyone, or it will be legislation and lawyers and all the rest (and fat chance of those laws passing).

Thank goodness MAPS is sticking to their guns in the face of the legal crap they are forced to deal with, and now the half-though out (MAPS does NOT block packets, web access, etc, it blocks mail) ravings of this lunatic. Go over their and donate some money to them and work to create a better internet.

Wannabe Actavisits and Bad Facts (1)

augustz (18082) | more than 13 years ago | (#560619)

How I wish facts where checked (or at least read) before this stuff gets posted to slashdot. Can we get an UPDATE on this?

"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 Class C:" MAPS does not block web sites. If your looking for something to be an activist over, pick something worthwhile and get your facts straight.

To Contribute to MAPS Legal Defense Fund (1)

augustz (18082) | more than 13 years ago | (#560620)

If you're like most of us, and want to allow MAPS to continue publishing its opinions, head on over to

PayPal [x.com]

and donate some money to their LDF. I have, and so should you. With MAPS you get a clear benefit as well as knowing your doing the right thing.

censorware. (4)

matth (22742) | more than 13 years ago | (#560639)

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!

Email, now page viewing (1)

searcher (24154) | more than 13 years ago | (#560641)

Using MAPS blocks email from that particular
domain. While it may block email from other domains
on the same box, if used properly, it doesn't
block viewing of the page. Which is what this
article seems to imply.

Re:MAPS is in the right (1)

searcher (24154) | more than 13 years ago | (#560642)

Once you have seen spam from an ISP's angle you
realize how beligerant something like MAPS
must be in order to be at all effective.


Agreed.
Spam is horribly abused. Harsh methods are sometimes necessary.

If MAPS claims to contact providers before adding
them to the blacklist, that is wrong and can be abused as well.
From my perspective, MAPS has done
more help than harm.

Re:That doesn't prove anything (2)

BlueLines (24753) | more than 13 years ago | (#560643)

Not true. My company has several racks worth of machines at above.net, and i can see these ip's fine:

traceroute to mediamasters.com (204.101.215.149), 30 hops max, 38 byte packets
1 main4-216-200-18.sjc.above.net (216.200.18.3) 0.460 ms 0.548 ms 22.097 ms 2 core5-main4-oc3.sjc.above.net (216.200.0.213) 0.438 ms 0.707 ms 0.329 ms
3 core1-core5-oc48.sjc2.above.net (216.200.0.178) 0.748 ms 0.435 ms 0.476 ms
4 ord-sjc-oc12.ord.above.net (207.126.96.117) 60.749 ms 60.551 ms 60.689 ms 5 POS12-0-0.GW2.CHI6.ALTER.NET (157.130.111.89) 62.042 ms 62.046 ms 62.066 ms
6 112.ATM3-0.XR2.CHI6.ALTER.NET (146.188.208.182) 61.435 ms 62.329 ms 61.414 ms
7 190.at-2-0-0.TR2.CHI2.ALTER.NET (152.63.65.102) 63.525 ms 63.280 ms 62.999 ms
8 126.ATM6-0.TR2.TOR2.ALTER.NET (152.63.7.102) 75.048 ms 74.651 ms 74.853 ms
9 198.ATM6-0.XR2.TOR3.ALTER.NET (152.63.129.201) 75.971 ms 75.700 ms 75.437 ms
10 191.ATM6-0.GW1.TOR3.ALTER.NET (152.63.129.237) 75.506 ms 75.527 ms 76.023 ms
11 205.150.221.230 (205.150.221.230) 89.191 ms 89.263 ms 88.758 ms
12 mediamasters.com (204.101.215.149) 88.596 ms 88.603 ms 89.945 ms

Re:This is journalism? (2)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 13 years ago | (#560653)

In traditional journalism, this is more akin to analysis or editorialising.

In modern journalism, this is serious, hard-hitting investigative reporting.

Re:This is exactly what we want them to do. (4)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 13 years ago | (#560654)

>Nazis vs. Jews

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

Re:Exactly (1)

gimpboy (34912) | more than 13 years ago | (#560675)

And then, you can turn the RBL off. Victims of Censorware can't turn it off because they aren't allowed to do so.

perhaps you work at your isp but most people don't. most people wouldn't even know who to complain to, what to complain about, or even when to complain. they would hit the message listed above cock their head to the side and move on.

use LaTeX? want an online reference manager that

Re:Exactly (2)

tbo (35008) | more than 13 years ago | (#560676)

And then, you can turn the RBL off. Victims of Censorware can't turn it off because they aren't allowed to do so.

Only if you happen to be the head sys-admin for your ISP... If my ISP subscribes to MAPS, I might never even know that my content was being filtered, let alone have any control over it.

What I don't understand is why anybody is using MAPS for anything other than their mail server. I used to do IS at a software company, and we set up our mail server to reject mail from IPs on the RBL. Other than that, we didn't use RBL. The purpose of RBL is blocking spam, so why should we use it to block anything other than SMTP?

Re:This isn't right (1)

Craig Davison (37723) | more than 13 years ago | (#560684)

Are you thinking of the ORBS RBL? SecurityFocus.com is hosted at above.net and poorly-configured ORBS users can't subscribe to BugTraq because of it.

Re:services like this (2)

Greg@RageNet (39860) | more than 13 years ago | (#560687)

but you can't come in and change the locks on me

If people come into your house constantly and make obscene phone calls to me in the middle of the night do I have the right to have your phone number blocked? I think so.

-- Greg

MAPS != censorship. (3)

Greg@RageNet (39860) | more than 13 years ago | (#560691)

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

Re:The problem is the innocent victims (1)

alecto (42429) | more than 13 years ago | (#560697)

And what better deterrent to the owner of the IP block than to have them lose customers to someone with an IP block that isn't hosting spammers' websites? This is not censorship; it's providing negative feedback to people that don't play well with others on our network.

This is exactly what we want them to do. (3)

alecto (42429) | more than 13 years ago | (#560699)

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.

No, this isn't censorship (1)

dubl-u (51156) | more than 13 years ago | (#560718)


This isn't censorship, any more than banning spam is. Censorship is the banning of ideas, not of actaions.

They are blocking sites that sell spammer tools, which is providing support services to spammers. They don't ban sites that talk about open relays or holes in the e-mail system. They do not ban any of the organizations that use reasonably safe versions of opt-in email. They also don't ban organzations like the DMA, who advocate making spam legal. And as far as I know, they don't ban any of the many frothing sites devoted to hating them.

The freedom to speak freely is vitally important to a democratic society, but I don't see that being infringed.

Evidence? (1)

dubl-u (51156) | more than 13 years ago | (#560719)

This claim has often been made, but I've never seen anybody come up with decent proof for it.

The only remotely real thing I've seen is that above.net was, for a time, blocking all traffic from ORBS, because they objected to the ORBS scanning methods and didn't want their machines bugged. Unfortunately, ORBS gets some of their connectivity from an ISP that uses above.net. This may not be very neighborly, but I don't know how evil it is, either.

And either way, if you want to prove your claim that above.net is dropping all RBL traffic, you have some work to do.

It's about who plays nice (2)

dubl-u (51156) | more than 13 years ago | (#560753)

As an RBL subscriber myself, I support this action, even to the extent of blocking other web sites.

When I started using the internet more than a decade ago, it was a neighborly place. When the green card lawyers [eff.org] did their massive spamming and followed it up with a big "fuck you", it was a shock to all of us.

To me, the RBL is about sorting out who has that old-school community spirit from those who don't. The jerks and idiots are welcome to talk to one another (and anybody else who cares to listen to them), but I want to keep them out of my inbox. If an ISP isn't playing by the same anti-spam rules, I cast my ostrakon [britannica.com] for them. And if people want to support that ISP by doing business with them, that's swell too, but I don't much care to hear from them either.

As a practical matter, spam-friendly ISPs are often willing to move spammers around in a netblock to avoid a ban, so it could well be that MAPS has given up on anything less than netblock bans. Of course, we don't know the MAPS side of the story, because you didn't take the time to talk to them.

Re:A compelling argument... (1)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 13 years ago | (#560765)

The problem is that you are forced to use it --- with abovenet using it and broadcasting null routes, there is no way in hell you can avoid it.

Huh? (1)

ddmckay (56023) | more than 13 years ago | (#560766)

Maybe I'm confused, but I thought the RBL is used to block e-mail, not web access. I use it and I can view all of the sites listed.

Sorry, Jamie, you are way off base (5)

wowbagger (69688) | more than 13 years ago | (#560785)

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 cyberpromotions.com 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!"

I will continue to use MAPS RBL (3)

Keefesis (70341) | more than 13 years ago | (#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 Above.net and Paulie Vix. I think Paul Vix is an incredible horrible person and his methods are evil (Above.net routers were advertising routes for ORBS, then dropping any packets they attracted according to the orbs site.)ORBS [orbs.org] 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. sprintmail.com) 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.

Re:services like this (1)

ahodgson (74077) | more than 13 years ago | (#560792)

Well, if by leaving your house open, you effectively make it easy for a crook to get into my house without a key, then your analogy would make sense. And you can be sure people would be running up and down the street checking locks to make sure they work.

Why can't you just switch ISPs? (2)

fhwang (90412) | more than 13 years ago | (#560814)

If I understand it correctly, you should be able to simply find another provider who is not on the RBL, switch over, and change the DNS settings for the domain name. A hassle, sure, but not the permanent clusterfuck you portray it as. (And I'm quite confused as to why crossalizer.de moved to crossalizer.com, too.)

I work at a web shop, and when we make hosting decisions, we've had to make the decision to switch away from an ISP that's on the RBL. Sure, it's a little extra work, but I guess I'm happier that I know that the ISP is harboring spammers, and that they're losing our company's business as a result.

MAPS is in the right (1)

bowood (91384) | more than 13 years ago | (#560816)

Once you have seen spam from an ISP's angle you realize how beligerant something like MAPS must be in order to be at all effective.

Re:Fuck off, Commie Pinko (1)

bowood (91384) | more than 13 years ago | (#560817)

Not only did I read the article but I've been using MAPS for years on every sendmail server that I admin. In fact the most recent versions of sendmail have MAPS turned on by default. Currently we have customers who get 10-20times more spam then they get valid email. Without MAPS that figure would be even higher. MAPS kills off the most egregious offenders. This is not censorship of ideas or speech, it is a collective effort of ISPs to defend against: 1. trespass 2. theft of telecomunication services 3. harassment 4. denial of service attacks "The war won't be over until the last spammer's head is stuck onto a spear at the city limits." [Paul Vixie, NANOG mailing list, Sept.1997]

So you check up on it.. (1)

Sc00ter (99550) | more than 13 years ago | (#560832)

This is why you should check your logs.. Don't just let the RBL do it's thing blindly, check you logs to make sure it's just blocking spam and not legit traffic.

I just checked my logs and the only things rejected from the rbl was stuff that was real spam. (all from a computer company I wouldn't do business with).

As long as people check their logs and make sure they point out possible mistakes then it should be fine. It has to go both ways.
--

Re:This is great news! (1)

4/3PI*R^3 (102276) | more than 13 years ago | (#560840)

Wow, Cary, North Carolina has 16777216 shit-holes!!!! BTW, how did you go about counting them?

A compelling argument... (2)

Tom7 (102298) | more than 13 years ago | (#560841)

A compelling argument, but the same reply still applies:

If you don't like MAPS, don't use it.

This is a good reason not to like MAPS, though. If what you say is true, I wouldn't use it if I ran an ISP (though previously I thought it did a good job). This kind of political pressure, however, is a much better way of policing the internet than through legislation.

Re:This isn't right (1)

The Madpostal Worker (122489) | more than 13 years ago | (#560881)

Well, not if they use the BGP subscription.(With BGP you drop _all_ traffic). I think thats what jamie was talking about by using RBL, the BGP session.

/*
*Not a Sermon, Just a Thought
*/

RBL - What a hosed concept (1)

gengee (124713) | more than 13 years ago | (#560885)

First let me say that this article made me feel h appy all over. It was great.

I've never used the RBL...Simply because it's an inherently stupid concept. I'll block spammers on my own, thank you very much. This is what procmail is for.

I needn't have huge lists of black-holed domains. I'll simply block it as it comes.

This article points out a whole new facet to my distaste for the RBL.

signature smigmature

vanish? (1)

dkh (125857) | more than 13 years ago | (#560887)

"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"

Isn't that a bit extreme? This may be true if you rely on them for backbone service but, I can only assume, most people use RBL to block mail, not all traffic.

"If you don't like don't use" How short sighted. (1)

rikrebel (132912) | more than 13 years ago | (#560907)

Comments similar to "If you don't like MAPS, don't use it" are VERY short sighted.

Many ISP's subscribe to MAPS/RBL/ORBs etc. and thus then block mail to all of their subscribers.

This means that if MY ISP's decides to subscribe, I don't get the option to 'opt out'. This is FORCED censorship.

I was a large supporter of these organizations while administering an e-mail system which had over 2 million maildrops. Roughly 1.5 years ago I began to see the 'change' and decided that It was unethical to continue to use them. Simply put, it was too hard to double-check and ensure that politics and the over-zealous did not keep my customers from communicating.

I think that unless there is some democratic process (one not driven by high-paying subscribers that is) these sorts of black list organizations are nothing more than base and elitist censors.

rr

Re:Many use RBL to create black-hole routes! (1)

rikrebel (132912) | more than 13 years ago | (#560908)


Many networks/isp's etc. use these black-hole lists to create null/black-hole routes!

This keeps you from being able to reach web sites as well!

SPAM sucks, but censorship is worse.

I haven't talked to Paul Vixie in a few years, but I always thought he had more moxy than to bounce the author to an unresponsive PR dept.

I'd like to see Paul make some comments on this stuff himself.

Anyone think this is a good /. Interview topic?

Re:RBL is for Mail-Abuse you Fools!! (1)

binford2k (142561) | more than 13 years ago | (#560929)

>I don't see how you can complain about a service >which is *FREE* and optional.

Optional for who?? How much control do you have over the ISP that your sister in Phoenix or your mom in Washington state use? How can you say that is optional?

Speaking as someone who has just recently had his class C blackholed for no apparent reason I know how the game is played. Don't even say that this is fair and *optional*. What option did I have when all my customers came to me and said that they were getting mail bounced?

Should it really be my problem if somebody upstream of me has a problem with spam control? How would you feel if you and your entire family were thrown in jail because some guy you don't even know who lives down the street from you was a small-time pot dealer? Now say it's optional.

-b

MAPS is for mail, its not a packet filter (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 13 years ago | (#560939)

MAPS blocking these sites blocks mail from them, it's not some über-conspiracy to make those IP addresses a black hole on the Internet. You can still surf those sites. You just may not be able to get mail from the domains living there.

I hope MAPS gets slashdotted. (1)

danpbrowning (149453) | more than 13 years ago | (#560940)

Maybe the heavy press will fix them. Is there an 800 number to call and report our disgust?

Re:A compelling argument... (1)

danpbrowning (149453) | more than 13 years ago | (#560941)

You don't always get the choice to select what software your upstream provider does and doesn't use. And it's not as easy as "just get another ISP" -- because what if you pay 5 digits each month for your direct cross connected OC3 to that ISP? That makes it a tough change.

What MAPS is... (1)

cmat (152027) | more than 13 years ago | (#560942)

...is a tool. A "FREE" tool, but a tool none the less. And just as with ANY other tool in existance, it can be used properly, and help you, or it can be used badly or immplemented badly and cause harm.

Normally I wouldn't comment about MAPS, but I feel compelled to point out the fact that PEOPLE NEED TO WAKE THE FUCK UP AND THINK BEFORE YOU COMMENT!!! :) If you don't know "what" MAPS is, it happens to be a DNS server which only holds A records (those are the domain thingy-do-dads there that get returned on a DNS lookup) of IP addresses that are either originating spam from their domain, or have improperly configured email relay servers (which by the way, if you think that "open" relay servers are OK, you need to wake up, move ahead 20 years to today, and face the fact that people using the internet today aren't as responsible are they were 20 years ago).

So, where does this bring us? This leaves us with a DNS server full of "bad" sites (spam-wise). It's a database of spam-originating domains. How do you PROPERLY use this tool? Well, first, you should ONLY be using their DNS to check the originating addresses (and IP) on incoming email to see where the email was sent from. If it's in this "black list", then YOU have the choice of dropping the email or not (well, ok, it's actually your incoming mail server, but that's a whole other issue, we'll assume you have control for the moment).

So, there's nothing even REMOTELY the same about censorware and MAPS, in fact, I'd go so far as to say that they both do different things entirely! Censorware censors websites BY CONTENT (supposedly), while MAPS provides a method of looking up domains that are reported as originating spam.

There, that's my rant, and Jamie? Next time you post something like this, PLEASE research your topic even a bit. Cheers, and I hope this clears up the confusion for at least a few people.

Chris

Horay! (4)

kevin42 (161303) | more than 13 years ago | (#560956)

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!

suggestion for the MAPS people (1)

ddent (166525) | more than 13 years ago | (#560960)

I think that the MAPS people are in a very good position to help stop spam on the internet. However, what they have done is detrimental to their ability to continue - for me, while in the past I would have used them (I was about to start using them), I would have to think that again now...

I would propose that perhaps they should switch to having two or more lists, one which is just actual spammers, and the other(s) to allow people to fight against a specific cause - essentially, censorware, when you think about it - but upfront about it. A potential list would be spammers and people who support or are passive in reacting to (when brought to their attention) spam.

So please MAPS folks, you have a great service, but do your lobbying elsewhere! Its just not the right place to promote one's views, and it will tarnish your reputation a lot.

So what do you propose? (2)

Chops (168851) | more than 13 years ago | (#560970)

While I agree that MAPS's actions here seem to be out of line, I support their right to recommend that any IPs they see fit be blackholed -- it's not like any ISPs are being legally required to use the RBL, as some places are censorware. MAPS built their trust with the community by being evenhanded and trustworthy; if they start making bad recommendations, people using the RBL will stop listening to them (just as they did, for the most part, to ORBS.)

Personally, I'm hoping Vixie sees the light. What's Media3 gonna do, terminate the account illegally and risk getting sued? Argue "but spam is wrong" in court when it happens? But hell, that's my opinion, and more people seem to want to listen to Vixie than me ;-). That is, of course, their right, as it is his to recommend that they blackhole any damn IP that comes into his head to mention.

Re:"Press time"? (1)

jvj24601 (178471) | more than 13 years ago | (#560976)

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.

So the HumpBackB (the author) is just supposed to sit around and wait until a response comes in? Exactly how long do you expect HumpBackB to wait? What if no response is ever given?

RBL is for Mail-Abuse you Fools!! (1)

fist (178568) | more than 13 years ago | (#560977)

What is the RBL's web address? www.mail-abuse.net!! It is for mail abuse!! Not blocking web-sites!! It is also optional. And yes, it censors emails that come from an ip where spam originates. If you want to continue getting spam from these ip's either don't use the RBL or go with an ISP that doesn't use it. I don't see how you can complain about a service which is *FREE* and optional.

Re:RBL is for Mail-Abuse you Fools!! (1)

downset (188656) | more than 13 years ago | (#560991)

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.
Also just because something is *FREE* doesn't make it good, or (as an example) are you a fan of Microsoft's Indoctrination^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H Education programs too?
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.

Re:This is exactly what we want them to do. (3)

ckedge (192996) | more than 13 years ago | (#561001)


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.

Re:Huh??? (2)

sulli (195030) | more than 13 years ago | (#561003)

I thought the RBL was supposed to block the MAIL, not the WEBSITE.

That's exactly what the RBL does. It doesn't block the website - MAIL servers subscribe to it! Now I might not like the fact that Peacefire.org's web site can't send me mail, but it's really not that big a deal.

"Press time"? (1)

Nostradumbass (205075) | more than 13 years ago | (#561012)

(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 press time.)

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. Isn't this exactly the sort of thing that caused massive confusion in our recent election? Slashdot has an advantage over traditional media in that it is not time-limited with regard to its stories. I would hope that they are not becoming bound by the less idealistic versions of so-called "journalism" we find all too often in the world today.

Non-censoring anti-spam solutions are available (1)

KevinMS (209602) | more than 13 years ago | (#561014)


One is Sneakemail [sneakemail.com] , another is mailexpire, but I think thats defunct now. They work on a level that lets the user be proactive about spam protection and not rely on remote software or local filters that "censor" your inbox. I can tell you that sneakemail is rapidly becoming popular, and in no small part because of this reason.

Laws (1)

TheFlu (213162) | more than 13 years ago | (#561017)

While the above article deals more with censorship than with SPAM, per se, I find it interesting that even though there are already many federal and state laws [spamlaws.com] dealing with unsolicited email you rarely hear of spammers being prosecuted. You would think that either the government or individuals would pursue this. What's the reasoning for this? I've never tried it, but are spammers really that hard to trace down?

We hate spam. The Linux Pimp [thelinuxpimp.com]

Re:A compelling argument... (1)

Cirvam (216911) | more than 13 years ago | (#561022)

If your backbone provider, which is probably 3 or 4 levels removed from you decides to use it you don't have much choice. Even if you ran an isp and you chose not to use it but your backbone provider did without telling anyone you would be screwed as an isp if you wanted to offer uncensored internet access

Re:RBL is for Mail-Abuse you Fools!! (1)

Cirvam (216911) | more than 13 years ago | (#561023)

They have a BGP subscription service where it drops all routes to hosts on thier list. Now this doesn't censor mail but anything coming from that ip. If your local OC-3 backbone provider uses it then you are screwed even if you go with another isp because they probably buy the bandwidth from the same provider. So its not very optional if you are forced to use it.

Re:vanish? (1)

Cirvam (216911) | more than 13 years ago | (#561024)

However the backbone provider uses them to filter all access. So they do vanish. Not only does mail get rejected but all connections do because the routers send the packets to a null host

Re:Jamie, get a grip (1)

Cirvam (216911) | more than 13 years ago | (#561025)

RBL also provides BGP routing updates to routers it turns the blocked hosts into null routes. Therefore no traffic can get to the host weather it is mail or surfing. If you would read the whole editorial you would see that it isn't talking about the filtering of mail but the dropping of routes by a backbone provider. The sites that are being dropped don't even send out spam they just provide software. If someone disagrees with your new program do you want them to censor thousands of users because of it. And the person who also runs their web page company off an ip that is one diffrent from your should suffer too because of you?

Re:Idiot (1)

Cirvam (216911) | more than 13 years ago | (#561026)

no not if you subscribe to the BGP ROUTING updates they DROP the route to the server. that means that nothing can get though, you know like web surfing. If you could read you might of found that out from the editoral

Re:No, this isn't censorship (1)

Cirvam (216911) | more than 13 years ago | (#561027)

They block Peacefire. That site has nothing to do with spam or spam tools. they blocked the whole class C ip address, that's 255 address because 1 was selling spam software

Errors that should be corrected. (1)

DaSyonic (238637) | more than 13 years ago | (#561039)

Ok, the poster states that Anyone who subscribes to the MAPS RBL is unable to goto a persons website because there IP is blocked. This is not the case. I am a subscriber to the MAPS RBL, RSS, and the dialup list as well. It stops spam very effectively. MAPS is integrated into sendmail. This has nothing to do with IP, including http. I can goto any working IP address, if there on the RBL or not. I feel that this article is very biased against MAPS and tries to make it seem bad. The MAPS RBL admins dont like people who are friendly towards spam. They are not 'censoring' them, but just preventing them from sending email to any mail server that uses the RBL. This is a big differance that should definatly be noted. Id like to state, that since I have utilyzed 3 differant MAPS services on my mail servers, I have not had any unsollicated email come through. And that is what MAPS is all about trying to accomplish.

Re:This isn't right (1)

Higher Authority (245970) | more than 13 years ago | (#561046)

This also prompts me to point out that in saying, effectively, MAPS' RBL does not block a single piece of spam is pure crap.

The RBL applies to e-mail only, AFAIK. Its subscribers use it to block "known spammers" for delivering mail to a certain address, NOT to block users of a subscribed ISP from viewing their websites.

Also, because ISPs volutarily subscribe to the RBL, Media3 has no case; MAPS' does not require anyone to use it's RBL. If Media3 has a problem with the RBL, it should be negotiating with its subscribers, although that would be pointless.

And yes, as I'm sure is well noted, if you don't like the RBL, don't use it. Likewise, if you like the concept behind the RBL, but don't like the direction it is currently taking, you can take that up with MAPS', as well as other subscribers with similar opinions.

This is a much better, in my opinion, way to police the Internet, compared to legislature, as the latter has almost no jurisdiction whatsoever, and the former has many supporters behind it.


Re:This isn't right (1)

Higher Authority (245970) | more than 13 years ago | (#561047)

To put it in more realistic terms, the RBL is simply a list of IP addresses. What subscribers to the list choose to do with that list of addresses is up to the them.

Generally, however, subscribers match the sender and/or relay server of incoming mail against the list, and discards any email which with a sender or relay in the RBL.

Thus, MAPS does not block anything; it is entirely up to the subscriber of the RBL and/or the mail server software he/she/they is/are using.


Re:This is exactly what we want them to do. (1)

Higher Authority (245970) | more than 13 years ago | (#561048)

using an ISP that subscribes to them is voluntary

That's not entirely correct; this is: using an ISP is volutary.

While you may choose to use an ISP, sometimes you may only choose not to use an ISP using the RBL by choosing not to use an ISP at all.

Furthermore, it would be unwise not to note that subscribers to ISPs who use the RBL can protest (or support) their ISPs uses of the RBL if they so desire.

Lastly, from what I gathered from the posting, Media3 does not willingly support spammers in any way. Moreso, their sites are including in the RBL because Media3 choose not to cooperate very well when a third party choose to add 6 entire Class C networks to the RBL, almost regardless of whether sites residing in that network engage or otherwise support spam.

And, just for the hell of it, I'd like to point out that MAPS has effectively become socialist thanks to their discrimation by association [to a given IP network number].

Re:Not Exactly (1)

fmaxwell (249001) | more than 13 years ago | (#561054)

Censorship is when some person or organization is limiting what you see against your will.

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 have no sympathy for the author. His firm is hosting a site that is selling spamming tools. Taking an anti-spam stance and then turning a blind eye to the peddlers of these tools would be absurd and MAPS has done the right thing. Want to get off of MAPS' list? Drop the site and tell the customer that he needs to start selling products for which there is a legitimate use.

MAPS did not block all those WEBSITES! (1)

gururise (263174) | more than 13 years ago | (#561079)

First of all, after reading the news story, it leads one to believe that all those poor websites are blocked from the internet (essentially an Internet Blackhole). This is totally untrue, everyone can still access those websites, just mail originating from those sites will be unavailiable to sites who subscribe to MAPS and choose not to allow such mail.

Quoting the MAPS press release...
"The dispute with Media3 arose when Media3 refused to require their web-hosting customers to stop advertising their websites by using unsolicited commercial email as an advertising medium. The unsolicited email, sent through various unrelated ISPs, advertised websites which were hosted by Media3 on their web servers. "This clearly violates the standards which we advocate, and to which we ourselves adhere," explained Mitchell. "The proprietors of these websites send massive amounts of unsolicted mail from an account with an ISP, then when that account is shut down for violating that ISP's terms of service, they just move on to another ISP. In these cases the only way to get them to stop sending the unwanted email is for the company hosting the advertised site to get involved. If they don't, there is no incentive for the unsolicited email to stop, and then we are forced to protect our own mail servers from the onslaught of that unwanted email."

Being a system administrator myself, I have to deal with SPAM on a daily basis. Spam uses up our resources, our bandwidth, and consumes our employee's time when they have to deal with it. We receive thousands of spam messages each week, and all of them are unsolicited. What other option do system administrators have? I for one totally support what MAPS is doing.
Gururise

It's simpler than all this (1)

erasmusbruge (263667) | more than 13 years ago | (#561082)

Good article, but there's a simpler way of stating the problem: 1. No thinking person should allow anyone else to decide what he is, or is not going to accept as e-mail: not my ISP, not my lawyer, and not even the good folks running the RBL. The problem is with not taking the trouble to make sure that your ISP isn't taking any liberties: this is actually quite easy to do, given the competitive nature of this particular business. So, the decision to use the RBL or not should be jealously guarded, and not ceded to others. Simple. 2. The thing about the RBL that is most annoying is that they cloak themselves in the veil of rightousness, when they're just offering advice. They're basically saying "Hey, here's a list of people who we think contribute to spam in one way or annother, so you may want to reject mail from them on your server". Oh, and by the way, there are some criteria we use to decide ... they're pretty broad, but take a look, and decide for yourself. If you don't agree, don't use the list. It's that simple. Oh, and yes, you DO have a choice. It's not an excuse to say that you rely on your employer's system, or your school's or whoever's server to get your mail. You don't have the right to the free use of someone else's property (this includes their servers, wires, IR ports, or whatever)-- just get yourself a dial-up connection to an ISP that does not use the RBL. Oh, and it would be big news to hear that the backbone routers are rejecting all traffice from RBL'd IPs -- as far as I can tell, this just ain't so.
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