Lawsuit threat against RBL users

Dean Anderson dean at
Mon Dec 7 18:19:26 UTC 1998

Spamford's service was terminated. He won a suit which proved AGIS did not
follow their termination agreement. Then instead of paying 1800/mo for T1
service, his spam partners bought dialup lines for 480/mo.  I'd say AGIS
was the stupid one. Anyway, there was no evidence that he was blocked by
anyone who did not have permission to do so.  There was no evidence that he
was smurfed. There was no evidence that his network was intentionally
damaged. However, that does not mean that these things didn't happen, or
that they would be legal if they did.
As I have explained, if you have permission, you are ok. It's been reported
here that a US Attorney (federal prosecutor) has said if your service
definition includes blocking for customers, then you have their permission.
 If not, you don't.  Thats pretty simple.

Furthermore, the ECPA was amended specifically to make it cover email.
This is in the hearing records on the amendment, which passed. This is the
intent of the US Congress, clearly stated. It is not "my interpretation".
It needs no qualification whatsoever. 

You don't need to take my word for it.  Call your US Attorney, and ask if
blocking without permission from a party to the communication is OK under
the ECPA.  Ask if he thinks that any "unsolicited" communication qualifies
as an abuse under the ECPA.  He is the one that files criminal charges.

A judge decides whether there is sufficient evidence that a law has been
broken.  You are then found guilty or innocent.   I'm not sure whether
anyone has been charged under this law, but there is always the first time.
 The intent of Congress is clear.

But claiming that you can "do anything you please with your equipment" is
complete BS.  There isn't anything more I can say.


At 05:29 PM 12/4/1998 -1000, James D. Wilson wrote:
>Hash: SHA1
>You have made this argument time and time again but have yet to
>provide citations of court cases where this has been decided and
>upheld.  There are multiple cases out there which validate the right
>of a provider to block mail services from whomever they want. 
>Remember Spamford?
>Saying something is so is one thing, providing cases where the legal
>system has made final decisions incl. after appeals is another.
>Prove that your interpretation of the law has been placed before a
>judge/jury and been held up under appeal.  Otherwise qualify your
>statements as your interpretation of the law and your speculation as
>to how it would really hold up in court.
>- -
>James D. Wilson
>- -----Original Message-----
>From: owner-nanog at [mailto:owner-nanog at]On Behalf Of
>Dean Anderson
>Sent: Friday, December 04, 1998 7:26 AM
>To: Scott Lampert; John Leong; sdeath at
>Cc: nanog at
>Subject: Re: Lawsuit threat against RBL users
>At 11:53 PM 12/3/1998 -0500, Scott Lampert wrote:
>>	I don't know about where you live but here in BellSouth land you can
>>call the phone company and block outgoing 900 number calls from your
>Correct: YOU can ask to have things blocked on YOUR line.  The phone
>company (or ISP) can't do that without YOUR permission.  But if (say a
>CLEC) offers phone services without any 900 services, they have your
>permission when you sign up.
>Likewise, YOU can use the RBL to block YOUR mail, and your ISP can use
>RBL if you give them permission. Which you do for example (according
>to US
>Attorney somewhere), if their service definition includes blocking.
>The ethics of the RBL and its ability to coerce people and
>arbitrarily notwithstanding, its existance is probably not illegal.
>However, that does not mean that it can't be used to illegally block
>by people that don't have permission to block.  
>The idea promulgated by some that a network operator can do whatever
>feel like with "their equipment" is plainly wrong.  There are laws
>govern how that equipment can be used by its owners.  The people who
>otherwise seem to be falling into the kook category, so I don't see
>point in arguing further.
>'Szechuan Death' brings up some good ethical and moral points about
>RBL. ORBS is even more arbitrary and unethical. But I'm not sure this
>is of
>any operational importance.
>Hasn't the operational value of this discussion been exhausted?
>		--Dean
>           Plain Aviation, Inc                  dean at
>Version: PGPfreeware 5.5.5 for non-commercial use <>
>Comment: All Spammers Are Thieves - Jail Them Now
           Plain Aviation, Inc                  dean at

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