Reporting Little Blue Men

Phil Howard phil at
Wed Jan 21 22:22:11 UTC 1998

Dean Anderson writes...

> If I am paying you to carry packets, you have an obligation to carry them.
> Blocking some of them is illegal. (ala AGIS).  Every packet that goes
> through your network is paid for by one of your customers, one of their
> customers, and so on.

If you are the customer then by all means if you want them you can have
them.  OTOH, it is not always cost beneficial for ISPs to be both in the
business of carrying _all_ packets and in the business of carrying _some_
packets.  Many ISPs are in the latter category.  If you want to buy a
sub sandwich, and are willing to pay for it, you have a right to do so,
but McDonalds doesn't have an obligation to sell you one unless they have
agreed (in their advertising, for example) to do so.

Many ISP are indeed shifting roles from the carrier of all packets and
messages to carriers of only those packets and messages that their paying
customers actually want, to whatever level maximizes their return on

> >If my server checks message headers to determine validity before
> >transferring to a spool file, I am not intercepting, I am determining
> >message routing. As above, if you aren't paying me, I have no obligation
> >to deliver something you handed me for delivery. Or are you suggesting
> >mail servers should deliver mail without determining who it is for?
> Nope. Thats service observing.  Illegal.

Calculating the checksum of an arriving packet, in order to determine if
it is valid or not, would be observing, too.  Every byte will have been
examined.  Looking at the header to see where it is supposed to go is also
observing.  So can you define what kinds of observing you think is illegal?
I consider illegal any kind of observing that is not a specific function of
the obligation to carry out the services agreed to.  And our customers want
the kind of Internet services that give them the most benefit for the least
hassle.  That includes blocking spam.

> >I cannot block mail espousing causes I disagree with, but I have no
> >obligation to deliver them either. Find yourself another path to my
> >client; I won't do anything to permit or prevent it. I am not blocking you.
> >I am also not assisting you. That is neither illegal nor immoral.
> You are obligated to carry the packets you are paid to carry.  You may not
> look at their contents other than for incidental reasons, such as routing
> and delivery. (and correct routing and delivery.)

And you are NOT obligated to carry the packets you are not paid to carry.
How big of a list can you come up with of customers that actually _want_
to pay to carry spam packets?

Phil Howard | eat1this at no5spam6 at no66ads1 at
  phil      | no42ads6 at no7way16 at blow4me9 at
    at      | stop8374 at no0way60 at eat42me4 at
  milepost  | crash141 at no45ads9 at no43ads2 at
    dot     | a9b1c5d8 at a8b5c2d6 at eat12me1 at
  com       | eat28me4 at a0b4c0d3 at a3b0c0d6 at

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