Reporting Little Blue Men

Patrick W. Gilmore patrick at
Thu Jan 22 04:46:58 UTC 1998

At 06:59 PM 1/21/98 -0800, Michael Dillon wrote:
>On Wed, 21 Jan 1998, Patrick W. Gilmore wrote:
>> I agree with almost everything you said, but there is one point I question.
>>  It is my understanding that I have an absolute right to block mail
>> espousing causes I disagree with on my private property (e.g. my mail
>> server).  I am not the government, you have no "First Amendment" rights
>> with me.  Of course, IANAL, so I could be wrong.
>Read the Electronic Communications and Privacy Act also known as the ECPA
>before messing around with email. You do have some obligations to your
>customers by running a mail server and it is important that your NOC staff
>is aware of what they can and cannot do. The ECPA is posted in several
>places on the web and is not that long so it is worth reading it yourself.

I thank you for the warning, but we do not run mail for our clients, just
ourselves.  And I feel perfectly free to filter whatever I want to myself
and my employees. ;)

And, whatever the ECPA states, I would still feel perfectly safe filtering
sites that I thought were sending stuff I did not want to receive on my
mail server - as long as I let my users know about it first.  In addition
almost every ISP I've ever seen has an "Acceptable Use Policy" which
obligates their users to refrain from using the mail server as a launching
point for such mass mailings.

I guess what it comes down to is that people seem to think that the
Constitution, or the First Amendment, or breathing the air, or SOMETHING
gives them the right to send anything they want to my mailbox.  I do not
know why they feel this way.  They are perfectly free to say whatever they
like IN PUBLIC, but not on my servers, in my network, on my time, my
bandwidth, and my mailbox.  You can't call my phone over and over, you
can't yell at me in my house, why is my server and mailbox any different?

Of course, the worst part about it is that these same people usually have
the audacity to filter responses to their SPAM.  And these are personalize,
directed e-mails to a person who has initiated contact, not anonymous
(usually spoofed) mass mailings to people who had less than no interest in
receiving the information.  I wonder how they rationalize that bit of
hypocrisy?  Or do they even try?

>Michael Dillon                   -               Internet & ISP Consulting


P.S.  I would like to reiterate that IANAL nor do I run a public mail
server.  And as with any major business decision, I would consult my
corporate counsel before enacting policy.  Just to be safe. ;)

Patrick W. Gilmore                      voice: +1-650-482-2840
Director of Operations                    fax: +1-650-482-2844
         "The People You Know.  The People You Trust."

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