Policies affecting the Internet as a whole - Hitting where it hurts
David J N Begley
david at avarice.nepean.uws.edu.au
Sat Dec 28 00:30:29 UTC 1996
On Fri, 27 Dec 1996, Paul A Vixie wrote:
> Wow, a network discussion on NANOG that is actually north american in nature.
Basically, but not entirely; issues such as junk email, blocking networks
in routers, silently deleting/dropping email, and/or launching "attacks"
against other sites seem to always start in the U.S., then slowly migrate
across the Internet (which is, of course, global in nature). As you will
recall, this thread started because of someone in the ".ro" domain.
Something a lot of people forget, is that these issues are not as simple
as "contact your local law enforcement office" - the Internet knows no
boundaries, so it becomes quite common for problems to spread across
jurisdictions (which in the "real world", leads to slower response from
multiple law enforcement agencies due to required "due process" - after
all, who was killed, what millions were lost?).
For example, many people in Australia (".au") are hit with junk email from
the U.S. (mostly ".com", it seems); in cases where the subject of the
junk email relates to pornographic material for sale, the matter becomes
one of breaching the laws in Australia relating to censorship/labelling of
such material (and indeed, commercial advertising without the required
company identifying information). What can Australian law enforcement
agencies do? Not much. Do they really expect to achieve anything by
extraditing someone from the U.S. to face charges of breaching numerous
Commonwealth statutes? Not really.
This "reality" (nothing to gain from "small fry", so nothing done)
actually works in the Internet's favour, because it means law-makers and
law enforcement generally stays out of the way, leaving the Internet
"community" to deal with the matters themselves.
Many people in the Internet "community" refuse to do anything (for
whatever reason), be they small-time ISPs, or large national/international
backbone providers. Sure, some people walk the walk and talk the talk -
some even actually follow-through .. but by-and-large, these problems are
growing, and with less and less co-operation within the "community", the
calls for law-makers and law enforcement agencies to get involved grows
louder and stronger.
Is that really what everyone wants? (Serious question.)
The Internet was once a *co-operative* network; whilst the Internet of
today is clearly more commercial in nature compared to its academic and
research origins, is it really all that much *less* co-operative?
Questions were raised about "blacklists" and "cartels", and all manner of
mechanisms whereby individuals and groups could be made to "toe the line"
of co-operation; it was also mentioned that allowing everyone to be their
own judge, jury and executioner can lead to seemingly unjust labelling of
sites as "rogue", without any attempt to verify this with the sites in
I submit that the reason a lot of this is happening is frustration -
frustration that there is not enough co-operation to have stopped the
problems before they got this far (let alone any further).
I know that I've reached the stage whereby I don't care if I add a whole
domain to an email "blacklist" (don't receive any messages from said
domain) due to only a few miscreants - it's become far easier to do that,
than hit my head against the proverbial brick wall, trying to get ISPs in
the U.S. to do something (despite providing all evidence available).
Do you realise that these sorts of lists are now becoming akin to trophy
cabinets? "I have 200 entries in my list." "Oh yeah? Mine has over
500!" "Wow, gimme a copy!" This is *not* a good evolution of the
Internet, surely! :-(
If groups insist on adopting a passive stance in the face all this
rubbish, then it's no wonder that "blacklists" and "cartels" develop,
taking matters into their own hands. If many people blocking traffic from
the same site help to wake that site up to its own lack of co-operation,
then maybe the end justifies the means? (Rhetorical.)
It was suggested that using the populist media can aid in raising
awareness in the "real world", to shake an ISP into action; with the
ever-increasing number of incidents, and their global nature, how many
people here have the time (or indeed, the money) to keep putting into this
sort of activity? I know I sure as hell don't.
Read that some site is not co-operating to deal with troublemakers at the
site? No messing about, straight into the email blacklist. It's not
always possible for an organisation to provider 100% protection, either
for its users or from its users, but at least *co-operating* to do
*something* is a sign of willingness - and that has to be good for
Think about it - we have nothing to lose, and everything to gain by
solving the problem ourselves as members of the one global community.
David J. N. Begley
Network Analyst, UWS Nepean, Australia
[ Suspected "respectable" clearinghouse: http://www.vix.com/spam/ :-) ]
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