Great Circle Associates List-Managers
(May 2002)

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Subject: Re: large ISPs blocking mailing lists
From: kim brooks wei <kimi @ kimbwei . com>
Date: Sun, 19 May 2002 19:33:41 -0400
To: list-managers @ greatcircle . com
In-reply-to: <p05111900b90c3d1abe42@[]>
References: <><p05111900b90c3d1abe42@[]>

This is obviously a heated and emotional issue as well as one which
addresses a plethora of legalities and societal issues. On the
fringes of these matters, I suppose that we are to define exactly
where email fits into the communication spectrum.

What bothers me about spam email is that there is no way to identify
who is bothering me with disgusting porn and offers for viagra, which
is definitely not for me, as I'm a woman who just happens to be
celibate at the moment.

I don't know who fills up my mail box with this stuff. I suppose with
a little effort I could find out how they get my email address in the
first place. The spammers are just empty addresses as far as I know.

The other thing that troubles me, is that I don't know of any legal
recourse I can invoke to get off spam mailing lists.

I know that it's possible to register with the government to restrict
one's name from being sold to bulk snail mailing lists. I don't get
much junk postal mail so I've never bothered to register for this
free service.

I practically eliminated the incoming sales calls I used to get after
I found out that simply instructing callers to take one's name off of
their call list will provoke an immediate and cooperative response,
as the penalties to sales callers for violating these clear
instructions are fairly heavy.

These matters are serious ones for me and they are handled in a
serious manner. It is possible to discover the identity of callers
and of course, of postal mail sender. The agencies which handle phone
and mail are involved in the process for eliminating unwanted
solicitation and take appropriate action, when they are not able to
prevent violations, a person has full access to the police and the
court system which will subsequently handle escalated complaints as
criminal matters.

Well, spam isn't handled in this serious fashion. The legal steps for
eliminating spam don't seem to be firmly established. The magic
formula for getting my address of of spam lists doesn't appear to
have been written yet.

We could explore ad nauseum the flip side of this coin, which is that
if the products weren't purchased, the salesman wouldn't have a
market and the whole issue would be moot as there wouldn't be any
purpose to promoting items that noone buys. Just like would happen in
the illegal drug market if people refused to buy drugs. But this
isn't an argument I feel equal to undertaking. Although, let me tell
you something, at any time that I become aware that an acquaintance,
colleague, or even friend of mine, is supporting or simply viewing
underage pornography, G-d help the poor slob. I would personally camp
out on the person's doorstep until the police arrived and do
everything in my power to  ensure that that person was prosecuted to
the full extent of the law.

Ultimately, I think that PEOPLE NEED TO WAKE UP and collectively take
serious action into their own hands. Such, as say, agree en masse to
boycott sites which attract their sales through email spamming.  The
product being sold doesn't even have to be an issue in cases of
spamming abuse. This a free enterprise world. Products will be sold
through many outlets. Individual consumers need to agree on certain
quality of life issues and actively move together to show abusers
that we're willing to buy certain products, but we're not going to
buy them from outlets which use our own money to create more ways of
harrassing us. Economic boycotts have their place in the world and
are often effective and in this case, could be used to cut down on
the amount of spam circulated.


>At 8:26 -0400 5/16/02, Sean Brunnock wrote:
>>I think it's odd that newspapers love to run stories about mailmen
>>who toss mail in the trash rather than deliver it, but you never hear
>>about ISPs that play games with email.
>That may be because good old-fashioned mail throughout history has
>carried with it a reputation of being sacred. The postal service has
>an obvious obligation to make sure that mail travels along the
>appointed route and is delivered at the recipient's address. Also,
>there is the physical envelope, and when someone opens it and reads
>a letter addressed to someone else, you know you have crossed the
>line, and not just because it may be difficult to reseal it, so you
>can't tell what happened. Email is often not viewed this way, but
>rather as a harmless little note of no significant importance. It
>subsequently matters less, if the mail occasionally falls into the
>wrong hands, and if it doesn't reach the recipient, then resending
>it is just a click away, or you can just write a regular letter or
>make a phone call instead. The built-in monitoring tools, if you
>will, in electronic systems add to this perception, tools that are
>readily available to sys admins who are less encouraged to uphold
>the old ethics of not crossing the line.
>I think it's interesting that when we talk of large ISPs that block
>mail, it's "them", and when we talk of mail servers filtering spam
>and viruses from user accounts, it's "us". The latter is somehow
>okay, although such blocking implies scanning, and it strikes me as
>odd that only one among us has mentioned privacy, a backbone
>commitment of the postal service. And no matter how many unsolicited
>phone calls I get at dinner time, I don't anticipate the phone
>company scanning my calls in order to track down the spammers for my
>At 4:38 -0400 5/17/02, Sharon Tucci wrote:
>>Can you say there is no conflict of interest when possibly the
>>largest ISP worldwide is under the same ownership as a major news
>>network AND this ISP is restricting mail delivery that its subscribers
>>have ASKED to receive?
>At 20:06 -0400 5/17/02, John R Levine wrote:
>>That would require a level of sophistication and coordination that far
>>exceeds anything I've seen at AOL, even though their postmaster staff is
>>quite sophisticated.
>>They're up to their eyeballs trying to keep the porn, viagra, and
>>obvious financial fraud out of their users mailboxes.
>You may likely respond yes if I asked you if it's fair to say that
>things have gotten out of hand. But would you also respond likewise
>if I asked you if it's problematic to toss basic user privacy out
>the window in trying to deal with it? In other words, what is it
>that sets the self-proclaimed good guys apart from the bad guys? And
>why is it that we are so eager to play the hero fishing the little
>people out of the pond? Is it perhaps because we receive no medals
>from helping to make sure that it doesn't happen in the first place?
>At 17:46 -0400 5/18/02, Nick Simicich wrote:
>>I guess I do not think that technical means have failed.  What has
>>happened is that the stomach of ISPs to enforce spam blocks has
>>Spam blocks are not to stop spam - I agree that those are doomed to
>>failure.  Spam blocks are to shun spammers, to cause their
>>legitimate customers to abandon them, and to force compliance.
>It's not like we have spammer ISPs clearly defined over there and
>the rest of us over here. Spammers are everywhere among us, and
>"legitimate" here may mean something else somewhere else.
>At 8:26 -0400 5/16/02, Sean Brunnock wrote:
>>As far as I can surmise, there were no complaints
>>and the ISPs did not notify their customers or us. The ISPs simply
>>decided that our mail was not worthy and blocked it. We're currently
>>negotiating with the ISPs to lift the blocks.
>Hope it works out. In our desperate 24/7 overload society, it isn't
>always easy to see who is who. People become nervous and overreact.
>It happens to the best of us. There is of course also plenty of
>genuine fraud out there, but just when and by whom is the line
>Mikael (who has a moment ago been encouraged to "Order Viagra,
>Phentermine, and Other Drugs with a FREE Online Consultation!")

Please be well.

Kim Brooks Wei        P O Box 626  Fair Lawn  NJ  07410       V

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