[lug] off topic, spam laws

Peter Hutnick peter at fpcc.net
Mon Feb 11 09:38:53 MST 2002

On Monday 11 February 2002 02:23 am, D. Stimits wrote:
> How exactly does RBL work? Since I point directly at the ISP via NS, can
> it still be used? And is it able to bounce messages back, and tell the
> sender they are banned, so they will stop, or does it make the sender
> believe they got through?


Sorry to call you D, I know you gave your first name before, but I can't find 
the message :-(

There seem to be a lot of things about this topic that you don't understand.

1. RBL keeps track of open relays, and allows your mail server to silently 
ignore messages from known open relays.

2. Open relays are SMTP servers that will accept mail from anyone for 
delivery anywhere.  Properly configured SMTP servers will accept mail from 
anyone for local delivery and will accept mail from local users with any 

3. Forging headers is perfectly legitmate.  It may be badly named.  Depending 
on the precise definition you choose your proposed legislation my criminalize 
virtual mail hosting in commercial (i.e. almost all) environments.

4. Spammers often GIVE hotmail (etc.) addresses, but they are rarely real.

5. Spammers virtually NEVER receive bounce messages, since the 
from/reply-to/errors-to headers are bogus.

>>Of course a key factor is that people wouldn't send spam if they didn't make
>>money doing it.  So to some extent it is "our" fault as consumers formaking
>>it profitable.

> I never give a penny to a spammer. I turn them in. I look through the
> headers, and inform everyone. Well, except for the huge batch that
> originates in Korea or China, in a language and character set my machine
> can't even display. About half of them do originate from hotmail or
> yahoo or lycos type accounts, but have html content that refers to other
> domains.

I thought that putting quotes on the word "our" would convey my meaning.  I 
mean our in the larger sense of consumers.  Clearly, someone is trying to 
Make $$$$$$ fast, or even the dumbest of spammers would stop sending the 
damned messages.  I'm not saying it's you.  I'd be shocked if /anyone/ on 
this list /ever/ responded to a spam.  Is that clearer?

So, I submit that we shouldn't criminalize a legitimate activity just because 
bad people do it too.


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