Lawsuit threat against RBL users

Henry Linneweh linneweh at
Thu Dec 3 19:56:57 UTC 1998

To make a story short Virginia has joined the ranks of NO SPAM and the
government DOJ and Whitehouse have made statements to the effect, that
we govern ourselves and clean up our messes.

That is precisely what is happening on an operational level globally.
wonderful threats are great but the users of the internet support
this action as a starting point against SPAMMERS.

Henry R. Linneweh

Szechuan Death wrote:

> Warnings:
> 1)  IANAL.
> 2)  This is quote, interspersed with rebuttal.
> 3)  Although it involves no directly technical issues, it is an operational issue
> none the less.  If you doubt it, ask yourself this question:  would you rather
> spend your time fixing network problems, or monitoring content and appearing in
> court?
> 4)  This post is somewhat lengthy.
> David Stoddard wrote:
> <snip>
> >         Based on these statements, I can only conlude you have a huge
> >         problem with the capitalistic system, and that you favor the
> >         elimination of private property in order to foster your "freedom".
> >         That is the same argument Fidel Casto uses on the people he
> >         suppresses, and was the common theme among communist countries
> >         before the fall of the Berlin wall.  Joseph Stalin shared your
> >         views on private property.  I don't.  As a capitalist, I find
> >         your ideas offensive and misguided.
> As a capitalist, here's something you should find even more offensive and
> misguided:  Since you've volunteered to monitor content, the government is likely
> to require that you do.  Read further.
> >
> >         Paul Vixie and his team of "RBL finks" are to be commended on the
> >         excellent job they have done in stopping the poisonous assult of
> >         pornographic filth, fraud, and manipulation that spam brings to
> >         people everyday.  And for people that want to take the RBL even
> >         further, we provide a list via autoresponder at spamlist at
> >         that blocks even more of this crud.  And here is the best part --
> >         its up to the FREEDOM of the individuals that use these resources
> >         to determine if and how they want to use them.
> >
> >         There are no "inalienable rights and freedoms" that give spammers
> >         unrestricted access to the Internet.  Even the courts have upheld
> >         the right of ISPs to block and filter spam -- see the URL
> >
> Of course they did.  Think about it.  You just volunteered to monitor content for
> an industry which the government is busy wringing its hands over.  The intrinsic
> difficulty in analyzing packet-switched traffic for violations of the law has
> stymied law enforcement agencies ever since the Internet became an issue.  That
> doesn't play well on the nightly news, when the blubbering-mother-of-the- week
> pisses and moans on TV about how her precious little Johnny got kidnapped,
> buggered, and slaughtered by some cretin "on the Internet" who knows how to use
> IRC and was able to give her kid a plane ticket while she was busy watching
> "Jerry Springer" reruns instead of asking what the hell her kid was doing on the
> computer.  "Sorry, it just isn't possible to do anything about it, we don't have
> the capability to monitor it" isn't what the general public wants to hear, and
> the LEAs and politicians have been tying themselves up in knots over it.
> About this time, along comes a Crusade, one which is worthy of legend. On the one
> side is Spamford Wallace and his crew of misbegotten miscreants, and on the
> other, Paul Vixie and his band of righteous merry men.  (I have chosen Spamford
> and Paul as the figureheads for their respective movements, actual history
> notwithstanding...)
> So Paul decides that, to battle the forces of Spam, he shall create a list of
> those who sin against the Internet at large, and propagate it to others.  Both
> these points are important.  If Paul wants to play God with his little corner of
> the Internet, no problem.  Unfortunately, he's not going to be able to step down
> from that position on a whim.  (Ain't that a bitch - Crusaders can't stop
> Crusading because their feet get tired or because they're getting shot at.  Aww.)
> What does this mean?  The next time something originating from or coming into
> Paul's network is deemed offensive, a waste of money/bandwidth/time/etc,
> unethical, or any other negative adjective, it will not be the U.S. Government
> who is put in the position of regulating it - it will be Paul.  You see, Paul has
> assumed the position of "Being On Top Of It".  Even if Paul doesn't feel that
> way, even if he feels that regulating that particular content will be detrimental
> to the Internet at large, even if he strenuously objects and says that "it's not
> his job", he will be put in that position, because _he volunteered for the job_.
> Precedent will have been set, and although IANAL, I know enough about the law to
> know that precedent is a bitch to break with.  The government and regulatory
> agencies will simply allow and "encourage", through the promise of jail time,
> copious fines, and multimillion dollar civil lawsuits, "self-policing" of the
> Internet by the administrators, all the while wiping the sweat from their brow
> and congratulating each other on having dodged another bullet.
> In addition, when the system fails - and as I and all other sysadmins know, all
> systems fail - it won't be the U.S. Government on the hook for screwing it up.
> It'll be you, because _you volunteered for the job_.
> Oh yeah.  The other important thing - pick up "Paul" and put down your first
> name, because everyone who subscribes to the RBL will be doing exactly the same
> thing.  There's a reason that the phone companies are common carriers - it's
> because it relieves them of a massive amount of liability.  The telcos do some
> things right on occasion, ya know.
> This is not to say that I believe that spam is a Good Thing, or that the RBL is a
> Bad Thing.  I hate Spamford for what he has wrought, and I believe that the RBL
> is a natural and necessary response to it.  I do, however, suspect that the
> trouble that Spamford and his ilk have caused, which has long since been dealt
> with, is nothing compared to the trouble which has now been assumed by the
> sysadmins and network operators.
> Congratulations.  The Chinese have a saying about being careful what you wished
> for...
> >         If you want to use your time and resources to foster and promote
> >         the activites of people that prey upon society at large, go right
> >         ahead -- that's "freedom", and it is your "right" to do so.  I have
> >         always found it interesting that the people the scream the loudest
> >         about their rights do it in the context of denying others their
> >         rights.  As an ISP, I have the right to choose.  And I choose not
> >         to do business with spammers.
> I wonder if you'll be so cavalier when the blubbering-mother-of-the-week is busy
> suing your arse off for not protection her little kid from:
> a)  pedophiles
> b)  bomb-making instructions
> c)  satanic song lyrics
> d)  pork (the other white meat)
> e)  Chevrolet
> f)  anything else deemed offensive.
> Tell me, what would you "choose" to do should one of your customers send back,
> stapled to their usage contract, a list of content they find objectionable and
> ask you to filter it?  Suppose you can't, don't, or won't?  How about if you
> screw it up and some gets through?
> Power comes with responsibility.  Responsibility carries with it liability.  Are
> you prepared to assume the liability that comes with "choosing" to selectively
> block content?
> --
> Szechuan Death, AKA Theron Bair, sysadmin, net tech, student, etc.
> sdeath at


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