Internet and e-mail policy and practice
including Notes on Internet E-mail


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13 Dec 2007

Defendants respond to Dell suit ICANN
The defendants in Dell's domain tasting suit responded last Friday. It looks like a pretty feeble response to me.

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  posted at: 14:33 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
Stable link is

30 Nov 2007

Well, It's About Time ICANN

A press release from Iron Mountain says that ICANN has now formally chosen them as the escrow agent for the Registrar Data Escrow program. So now, only six and a half short years and one highly public registrar collapse after the mandatory escrow was put into the registrar agreement, ICANN has finally gotten around to setting it up.

The next question is whether the registrars will actually make the escrow deposits, and what if anything will ICANN do when they don't. The big responsible registrars will, of course, but the marginal ones most likely not to escrow are the ones most likely to collapse. Stay tuned for the next exciting chapter.

  posted at: 23:30 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
Stable link is

24 Nov 2007

USA Today: Spam Is Bad Email
A reasonably well informed article in Thursday's USA Today reminds us that in 2004 Bill Gates said the spam problem would be solved in early 2006, but here at the end of 2007 there's more spam than ever.

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  posted at: 19:39 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
Stable link is

19 Nov 2007

It's not spam if it looks sort of personal Email
Bennett Haselton writes
in Slashdot about a case he lost in small claims court in which a poorly briefed small claims judge decided against him. The defendant claimed it was indovidual mail, and although the mail is to us an obvious link exchange spam, the judge concluded otherwise because it started "Dear Webmaster."

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  posted at: 23:44 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
Stable link is

23 Oct 2007

How big is the Storm botnet? Email
The Storm worm has gotten a lot of press this year, with a lot of the coverage tending toward the apocalyptic. There's no question that it's one of the most successful pieces of malware to date, but just how successful is it?

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  posted at: 23:39 :: permanent link to this entry :: 1 comments
Stable link is

20 Oct 2007

Thank heavens for class action lawyers Email

If you had an e-mail address any time in the past six years, you've probably gotten spam for something called VigRX for Men, with fairly specific promises that it will make you, ah, manlier.

I always wondered how many nitwits could fall for this kind of nonsense. Thanks to a recent class action settlement, we now know that there have been quite a lot of them. A class action suit filed in 2001 in Colorado settled recently, with some quite amazing info in the documents available at LEM stands for Leading Edge Marketing, the name used by the defendants for several companies in the US, Canada, and the Bahamas.

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  posted at: 00:02 :: permanent link to this entry :: 2 comments
Stable link is

17 Sep 2007

Catch me on Court TV this week Email
Last year I helped some Canadian film makers do a TV show called Spam, the Documentary. Now US viewers can see it on Court TV tomorrow Sept 18th at 11pm or the 19th at 3am. (Well, at least the insomniacs or the ones with TiVo can see it.)

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  posted at: 11:29 :: permanent link to this entry :: 2 comments
Stable link is

10 Sep 2007

Zango verdict is good news for spam filters and blacklists Email

Zango, a company that used to be called 180 solutions, has a long history of making and distributing spyware. (See the Wikipedia article for their sordid history.) Not surprisingly, anti-spyware vendors routinely list Zango's software as what's tactfully called "potentially unwanted". Zango has tried to sue their way out of the doghouse by filing suit against anti-spyware vendors.

In a widely reported decision last week, Seattle judge John Coghenour crisply rejected Zango's case, finding that federal law gives Kaspersky complete immunity against Zango's complaint.

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  posted at: 23:32 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
Stable link is

08 Sep 2007

Spamford Wallace gets sued yet again Email
If there were a lifetime achievement award for losing lawsuits for being annoying, Sanford Wallace would be a shoo-in. Fifteen years ago, his junk faxing was a major impetus for the TCPA, the law outlawing junk faxes. Later in the 1990s, his Cyber Promotions set important legal precedents about spam in cases where he lost to Compuserve and AOL. Two years ago, he lost a suit to FTC who sued his for stuffing spyware onto people's computers. And now, lest anyone think that he's run out of bad ideas, he's back, on the receiving end of a lawsuit from MySpace.

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  posted at: 00:14 :: permanent link to this entry :: 1 comments
Stable link is

03 Sep 2007

More on WHOIS privacy ICANN

Last week I wrote a note the ICANN WHOIS privacy battle, and why nothing's likely to change any time soon. Like many of my articles, it is mirrored at CircleID, where some of the commenters missed the point.

One person noted that info about car registrations, to which I roughly likened WHOIS, are usually available only to law enforcement, and that corporations can often be registered in the name of a proxy, so why can't WHOIS do the same thing?

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  posted at: 22:03 :: permanent link to this entry :: 1 comments
Stable link is

Spamhaus Appeal: They Win on Substance Email
The Seventh Circuit has issued
its opinion in the continuing saga of E360 Insight vs. the Spamhaus Project. While it is not a complete victory for Spamhaus, they did about as well as anyone could have hoped for under the circumstances. E360 won on the procedural issue, while Spamhaus won on the substance.

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  posted at: 20:45 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
Stable link is

28 Aug 2007

If WHOIS privacy is a good idea, why is it going nowhere? ICANN
ICANN has been wrangling about WHOIS privacy for years. Last week, yet another WHOIS working group ended without making any progress. What's the problem? Actually, there are two: one is that WHOIS privacy is not necessarily all it's cracked up to be, and the other is that so far, nothing in the debate has given any of the parties any incentive to come to agreement.

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  posted at: 22:17 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
Stable link is

09 Aug 2007

America's Worst CAN-SPAM Suit Ends Email

This post has been withdrawn due to objections from Virtumundo's lawyers.

Other comments on this order:

You can find a copy of the judge's order at:

  posted at: 12:51 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
Stable link is

27 Jul 2007

What's worth putting on the net

Last year I was exchanging e-mail with an aquaintance in Africa about setting up web sites, who said:

I would be interesting to know what mistakes made in North America and how they were addressed.
The major mistake was to assume that the most important use of the net was to distribute content from a relatively small set of sources out to the masses, and that the masses would pay for the privilege. In fact, people put a much higher value on one-to-one or one-to-few communication, and the number of content providers that successfully sell information can be counted on your fingers.

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  posted at: 10:48 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
Stable link is

23 Jun 2007

Squeegee domains ICANN
When I was growing up, one of the annoyances of life in New York City was
squeegee men. When your car was stopped at a light, these guys would run up, make a few swipes at your windshield with a squeegee, then look menacing until you gave them a tip.

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  posted at: 16:32 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
Stable link is

CAN SPAM applies even within a single provider Email
I recently came across a copy of
a ruling in the bizarre case of MySpace vs. was the ultimate bubble company. It started up here in Ithaca, and went public at the peak of hysteria with one of the the greatest one-day price runups ever. Since then they bought and sold a variety of busineses, none of which ever made any money, including the Voiceglo VoIP service which appears to be what the spam was promoting.

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  posted at: 16:28 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
Stable link is

02 Jun 2007

.travel gets a last minute reprieve ICANN
According to
documents filed with the SEC yesterday, Michael Egan, president of which owns Tralliance, lent them $250,000 on onerous terms to keep the company going. The terms of the loan allow him to increase the amount up to $3,000,000. It pays 10% interest, assuming theglobe had the cash to pay interest which is unlikely, and can be converted into stock at one cent per share. The filings say this loan is to provide working capital while they look for longer term financing.

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  posted at: 18:15 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
Stable link is

29 May 2007

It's Godaddy for Registerfly's domains ICANN

In a press release sent out this morning, Godaddy says they're the new registrar for Registerfly's former domains. Godaddy has their own issues, but they're one of the few registrars that could import that many domains quickly.

This should solve the problem for the RF customers whose registration data is correctly transferred over. But it still leaves in limbo those whose domains went into redemption or expired due to RF's inability to process renewals. There also seem to be a fair number of domains whose contact info is wrong due to incompetence or malice at RF. There doesn't yet seem to be any plan to clean up the rest of the mess.

There's nothing about this on the ICANN web site other than a blog entry on Friday proudly saying that they finally got RF's Kevin Medina to show up in court. Whoopee. But there's no reason to doubt what Godaddy has said.

  posted at: 11:10 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
Stable link is

The .travel registry is likely to go out of business ICANN
A blog entry from the always interesting Ed Hasbrouck led me to the latest quarterly 10-Q financial filing by, which owns Tralliance, the company that runs the .travel domain. After a most exciting decade buying and selling a variety of Internet related businesses, Tralliance and .travel are now theglobe's only activity.

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  posted at: 00:17 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
Stable link is

25 May 2007

ICANN says Registerfly domains moving to another registrar ICANN

In an entry in the ICANN blog, Paul Levins says they've arranged to move Registerfly's domains to another registrar. They won't say who the other registrar is beyond "an existing accredited Registrar with a demonstrated record of customer service" which could be just about anyone other than Registerfly. They have "most" of the registrant data.

All is to be unveiled next week. In the meantime, read the comments on the blog entry about domains that are expired, domains that have gone into the redemption period and eNom (for whom RF used to be a reseller) wants a large ransom, and other screwups. Even if the new registrar is utterly wonderful, there's going to be lots of pieces to pick up.

(Thanks to Larry Seltzer who noticed the ICANN blog entry. He also noted that, astonishingly, Registerfly's web site still purports to sell domains and will take your money, although judging from the blog complaints, the actual process ends after the take your money part.)

  posted at: 02:34 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
Stable link is

10 May 2007

Stop! Don't Forward That E-mail! Copyright Law

Forwarding e-mail is so easy that it must be legal, right? Not everyone thinks so.

Ned Snow at the University of Arkansas recently wrote A Copyright Conundrum: Protecting Email Privacy that argues that forwarding violates the sender's copyright rights, so it's not. The article is quite clever and is (as best I can tell, not being a legal historian) well researched, even if you agree with me that its conclusions are a bunch of codswallop.

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  posted at: 22:42 :: permanent link to this entry :: 1 comments
Stable link is

The Politics of E-mail Authentication, 2006 Edition Email
A student at a well-known US university wrote me and asked whether, given the huge national interest in getting the industry to unite behind (at least) one format, did I think that the FTC should've played a stronger role in pushing the industry to adopt an authentication format?

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  posted at: 22:29 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
Stable link is

05 May 2007

Oklahoma Spammer Fighter Loses Even Worse Email

Last December I wrote about Mark Mumma, who runs a small web hosting company in Oklahoma City and his battle with Omega World Travel a/k/a Mumma lost his CAN SPAM suit agains them in December, but Omega's countersuit for defamation went to trial last week, and I hear that the jury awarded Omega $2.5 million in damages, which Mumma is not likely to be able to pay.

This may be painted in some circles as a huge defeat for anti-spam activists, but it's not. Mumma has been what one might call an intemperate litigant, as most impressively documented in an interview with Ken Magill. Press reports say that Omega would have settled with Mumma for an apology and no money, which considering Mumma's string of losses was a pretty good offer. But he didn't.

There are plenty of real anti-spam lawsuits going on, with real charges of behavior that is actually prohibited by law. A good example is the case that Project Honeypot filed last week against spammers who'd scraped addresses off their honeypot web pages. I look forward to following its progress.

Update: Read Robert Braver's comment on this message which clarifies the sequence of suits. Omega sued first in response to threats from Mumma, but the outcome is indeed a train wreck.

  posted at: 16:27 :: permanent link to this entry :: 1 comments
Stable link is

29 Apr 2007

Better not have any of these e-mail addresses Email

From a recent mailing from Performics (soon to be part of Google) about an affiliate program I just added to my account:

One important point about your ongoing communications with Performics. We use an industry-leading email communications platform that has some stringent delivery requirements. Unfortunately the system does not recognize some common prefixes. ...
List of undeliverable email prefixes:
abuse@, admin@, alerts@, blacklist@, blackhole, bulkmail@, contact@, devnull@, domain@, domreg@, domtech@, email@, ftp@, help@, hostmaster@, hr@, info@, information@, it@, jobs@, mailer-daemon@, maps@, marketing@, news@, noc@, nospam@, postmaster@, privacy@, rbl@, remarks@, root@, route@, sales@, security@, spam@, spamtrap@, support@, techsupport@, test@, usenet@, uucp@, webmaster@, webteam@, www@

  posted at: 22:13 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
Stable link is

18 Apr 2007

ICANN to Registerfly: we really REALLY mean it this time ICANN

ICANN's web site has a press release saying that the were granted a temporary restraining order on Monday requiring that Registerfly cough up all the info on their registrants, or else.

My assumption all along has been that the reason that Registerfly hasn't provided full info is because they don't have it. ICANN agrees that they got partial data last month, and it's hard to imagine a reason that Registerfly would have given them some of the data but deliberately held back the rest. I guess we'll know soon enough.

By the way, I hear that ICANN plans to implement their registrar escrow policy, the one that's been in the contracts since 2000, pretty soon.

  posted at: 17:15 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
Stable link is

29 Mar 2007

Registerfly victims are really stuck now ICANN

Last week I noted here that cutting off collapsed domain Registerfly will leave a huge problem for registrants. ICANN is supposed to have escrowed copies of each registrar's registrant data, but has never got around to setting that up. This means that unless Registerfly can supply the data, there may be no record of the actual owner of their domains.

According to a story by AP reporter Nick Jesdanun, it looks like that's the case:

ICANN said it may automatically transfer customers to a competing registrar, but it said it does not have all the necessary data, largely because of the use of anonymous proxy services.

I would ask what ICANN thinks they're doing, but what's the point?

Update: ICANN's lawyers sent Registerfly another letter saying they better cough up that registrant data pronto Or Else. At this point it's hard to imagine why Registerfly wouldn't have provided the data if they had it, so my working assumption continues to be that they don't.

  posted at: 19:09 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
Stable link is

17 Mar 2007

ICANN terminates Registerfly. Now what? ICANN
ICANN's website headlines
Termination of Registrar Accreditation Agreement. While it is high time that ICANN dealt with this long-standing problem, simply cutting them off may just make it worse.

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  posted at: 19:27 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
Stable link is

12 Mar 2007

So much for stability and security ICANN

The first sentence of the ICANN bylaws states:

The mission of The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers ("ICANN") is to coordinate, at the overall level, the global Internet's systems of unique identifiers, and in particular to ensure the stable and secure operation of the Internet's unique identifier systems.
That seems like a reasonable goal, doesn't it?

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  posted at: 17:10 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
Stable link is

06 Mar 2007

Why I left the ICANN At Large Advisory Committee ICANN
For about the last two years, I was a member of ICANN's At Large Advisory Commitee (ALAC), the group charged with representing the interests of ordinary Internet users within ICANN. In case anyone is wondering, here's why I'm not on the ALAC any more.

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  posted at: 08:37 :: permanent link to this entry :: 4 comments
Stable link is

05 Mar 2007

In Bad Taste ICANN
So-called domain tasting is one of the more unpleasant developments in the domain business in the past year. Domain speculators are registering millions of domains without paying for them, in a business model not unlike running a condiment business by visiting every fast food restaurant in town and scooping up all of the ketchup packets.

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  posted at: 02:32 :: permanent link to this entry :: 1 comments
Stable link is

06 Feb 2007

Is it too hard to get e-mail delivered? Email

In the latest round of AOL conspiracy nonsense, a friend commented that getting mail delivered is too hard.

That may be true, but I'm wondering if the problem isn't at least as much that people's expectations are unrealistic, due as always to the way that computers seduce us into analogical thinking that doesn't work.

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  posted at: 11:53 :: permanent link to this entry :: 1 comments
Stable link is

05 Feb 2007

Postini sends out Paypal phishes Email
Yes, that's what I said. And if you don't believe me, here it is, exactly as received except for snipping out a few locally added headers that identify the address they sent it to, an often scraped address that gets a mountain of spam.

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  posted at: 23:24 :: permanent link to this entry :: 19 comments
Stable link is

15 Jan 2007

Spam is way up all over, and what are we doing about it? Email

In case there were any question, here's a recent note on Tucows' blog saying that they've seen a big increase in spam in recent months.

My friend Neil Schwartzman wrote an elegant manifesto Trench Warfare in the Age of The Laser-guided Missile that should be required reading for everyone.

  posted at: 13:42 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
Stable link is


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