Spam Control Considered Harmful

Don Stacy dstacy at visi.com
Tue Oct 28 15:00:53 UTC 1997


> Combatting spam is considered a Good Thing(TM) by almost everybody here,
> including myself.  However the same technology could just as easily be
> used to do Bad Things(TM).  Even worse: if it works it demonstrates that
> *centralised control* of the content of Internet services like e-mail is
> *feasible*.  This will give some people ideas we may not like, and
> sometime in the future we may ask ourselves why we have done this.  The
> end does not always justify the means.  I hope that methods like the
> anti-spam feed will not be taken up widely.  Please consider the
> consequences before you use them. 

  Every technology can be used for evil.. it's a matter of someone
taking the step to use it that way. Never let fear of technology
stop the development of said technology. 

   Or to put it in broader terms: If technology is outlawed, then
only outlaws will have technology :)
 
   Personally I feel I have the right to know about every tool I
possibly can, to evaluate it's use and consider it's ramifications <sp?>
to me. I think information should be free, and that we all must know
what is going on in order to make proper informed decisions.

   I agree with blocking spam on selected ISP mailservers as a user
choice. But I also agree that there are certain entities who have
proven themselves to be a detriment, and I believe that in those cases
it would be my right as an op to block them at my router, because they
are *hurting* my network or machines. Because they put such a horrid 
load on my systems, or because they have violated my systems <mail
relaying off a server, etc>, they are, IMO, ending their right to 
transit across my network. I don't *CARE* what their content is. I'm
not blocking content, I'm blocking misuse of my network.
 


> I stress that I do not question the morality or good intentions of those
> involved.  I am just concerned about the almost ubiquitous and
> apparently unreflected zeal that spam seems to evoke and the danger of
> it making us accept methods we would otherwise despise.  I would prefer
> to see more work in technology that is less centralised and gives the
> users a choice of the content they wish to see.  Yes this may be harder
> to do, but the consequences of deploying the easier methods may be just
> too severe. 

   No offense, but none of the presently used tactics are exactly
new :) Sure, vixie only recently started the RBL <is it RBL?>, but
the ability to block networks at the router has existed as far back
as I can recall :) And I've surely used it in the past to protect
my network from time to time. 

   I only think that we should remember not to fear the new ways we
develop to help ourselves. What we are doing now is what we have to do.
And we will come up with other ways to do it once things shape up. But
the one thing ppl seem to forget is that the spammers are sending a
lot of this mail without being asked to. And they refuse to stop when
asked politely. Will they follow standards when those standards are
established? If yes, then this can all go away. If not, then efforts
like this will continue.

   The internet seems to change somewhat every year. What I remember
of it is that ppl stick together on some things. When most of the
netops in the world want spammers to follow rules and not send ppl
mail they did not ask for, I feel the spammers should do just that.
If they refuse, and decide they have an unlimited license granted
upon themselves to send whatever to whomever, then I feel that they
have crossed the line of what should be allowed. And at that very
point, they are violating the policies of my network. And at that
very point, I will stop them if I can.

   These are my opinions, and yours may vary. 


 
                                          lateron....
dstacy at visi.com



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