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


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19 Dec 2010

Microsoft responds to Holomaxx Email

The Holomaxx case grinds on to its inevitable conclusion, as Microsoft files a motion to dismiss all claims, and a crushing brief explaining why all of Holomaxx's claims are unsupported by facts, specifically contrary to law, internally contradictory, and in a few cases, just stupid. (Those are my words, not theirs, but what else can you call a complaint that Microsoft wasn't authorized to access their own mail servers?)

They make reference to many familiar cases, particularly E360 vs. Comcast, which had very similar facts, and which they cite in the first paragraph:

As a federal judge recently described a similar e-mail marketing service, "[s]ome, perhaps even a majority in this country, would call it a spammer."

I won't go through the brief in detail, but if you're looking for a comprehensive 33 page description of why spam filtering is absolutely, definitely, unarguably, without question, 100% legal, here it is.

  posted at: 21:42 :: permanent link to this entry :: 1 comments
Stable link is

15 Dec 2010

Holomaxx gives up on two defendants Email

In early November, a hitherto obscure company called Holomaxx filed two lawsuits against Yahoo and Microsoft/Hotmail, complaining that they weren't delivering mail from Holomaxx, and against Return Path and Cisco/Ironport, claiming that they were were falsely defaming Holomaxx as a spammer.

As I said at the time, regardless of whether Holomaxx is sending spam, this case is devoid of merit for a variety of reasons. Earlier this week, Holomaxx retreated a little, dismissing the charges against Return Path and Ironport. The court filings are uninformative, one sentence dismissing each defendant without predjudice, which means that they could (in theory at least) sue them again later.

Ken Magill noted this first, with a comment from Return Path just saying that they're pleased to be out of the case.

Microsoft is supposed to respond on Friday, so assuming they do I'll see if they say anything interesting.

  posted at: 23:51 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
Stable link is

03 Dec 2010

Do-not-track: still not a great idea Internet
Back in August, FTC chair Jon Leibowitz suggested an Internet do-not-track registry, analogous to the telephone do-not-call registry. At the time,
I thought it wasn't a good idea for both technical and non-technical reasons. This week, the FTC published an online privacy report recommending the same thing, and Rep. Ed Markey promises to offer a bill next year to mandate do-not-track for children. With all this interest, might it be a good idea now? Maybe.

See more ...

  posted at: 22:26 :: permanent link to this entry :: 4 comments
Stable link is

01 Dec 2010

FCC Chairman wants ISPs to deliver spam Internet

An article in the New York Times reports on FCC Chair Julius Genachowski's plan to regulate ISPs to be "neutral."

The text of his speech says:

Thus, the proposed framework would prohibit the blocking of lawful content, ...

He probably didn't intend to require that all CAN SPAM compliant spam be delivered, but that's what his words mean, since that variety of spam is legal in the U.S.

I can't see how the FCC can do this, since there is specific statute law that says that spam blocking is allowed, but it sure will create headaches for ISPs as spammers complain to the FCC about blocking their junk.

The Republicans in Congress (not usually my heros) will probably shoot this down, but if it shows any chances of going somewhere, it'll be bad.

  posted at: 19:25 :: permanent link to this entry :: 2 comments
Stable link is

29 Nov 2010

Why DNS blacklists don't work for IPv6 networks Email

All effective spam filters use DNS blacklists or blocklists, known as DNSBLs. They provide an efficient way to publish sets of IP addresses from which the publisher recommends that mail systems not accept mail. A well run DNSBL can be very effective; the Spamhaus lists typically catch upwards of 80% of incoming spam with a very low error rate.

DNSBLs take advantage of the existing DNS infrastructure to do fast, efficient lookups. A DNS lookup typically goes through three computers, like this:

See more ...

  posted at: 00:13 :: permanent link to this entry :: 3 comments
Stable link is

17 Nov 2010

Melaleuca tries again Email

Last week I blogged about Melaleuca v. Hansen, a CAN SPAM case that was recently decided by an Idaho court. This week, they're back with a new case that is almost identical to the last one.

Last time, the court decided, among other things, that Melaleuca didn't have standing to sue because it contracts its mail service to an ISP called IP Applications, the ISP assigned its CAN SPAM clains to Melaleuca, but not until after filing suit, which the judge said was too late. This time, the claims are assigned before the suit started, so that particular defect is fixed, but all the other problems with the suit remain, most notably the absurd 9th Circuit rule that plaintiffs show specific harm from the specific messages they're suing about.

The only interesting bit of this case is the question whether the ISP can assign its CAN SPAM claims to someone else, which I believe has never come up before. I fear this may be another Gordon, a case with lousy facts that sets a precedent putting yet another needless hurdle in the way of subsequent reasonable CAN SPAM cases.

Venkat has a longer take on this suit, with comments about the procedural as well as substantive problems this suit has.

  posted at: 17:09 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
Stable link is

09 Nov 2010

My, that's secure Email
Back on October 21 I found some bogus charges on my credit card bill. So I called up the bank, had them taken off, and the bank changed my card number. They suggested I look at my credit report and put a fraud alert on it. I went to
annualcreditreport (the only one of many similarly named sites that is legitimate), and got my Equifax credit report.

See more ...

  posted at: 22:52 :: permanent link to this entry :: 5 comments
Stable link is

08 Nov 2010

Yet another unfortunate CAN SPAM case Email
The case Melaleuca v. Hansen has been moving slowly through Idaho federal court since 2007. On Sept 30 the court
decided in favor of the defendants. Although the outcome is probably correct, the court's decision perpetuates the misreading of CAN SPAM from the infamous Gordon case that makes it in practice impossible to win a CAN SPAM case in the 9th Circuit.

See more ...

  posted at: 23:48 :: permanent link to this entry :: 1 comments
Stable link is

05 Nov 2010

How not to get your mail delivered Email
A small company in suburban Philadelphia called
Holomaxx recently filed two lawsuits against large webmail providers, complaining that they weren't delivering mail from Holomaxx. The first suit is against Microsoft and Return Path, and the second suit is against Yahoo and Cisco/Ironport. Neither is going anywhere.

See more ...

  posted at: 00:38 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
Stable link is

02 Nov 2010

Why Spam Is Bad Email

Today's post on the CAUCE website lays out the reasons that spam is a real problem. It's not the annoyance of unwanted mail, it's the serious crime of which that mail is only a part.

(Kudos to Neil Schwartzman and JD Falk for writing it so clearly.)

  posted at: 11:30 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
Stable link is

27 Oct 2010

Why e-pending is a bad idea Email
If you take a list of people for whom you don't have e-mail addresses, and find e-mail addresses for them, that's called e-pending. Different people do it in different ways. The companies with giant junk mail address databases have e-mail addresses for many of those addresses, so it's just a database lookup. Others try to guess, so if your name is John Smith and you're with the Generic Company, they'll try,, and so forth. Regardless of how it's done, e-mail to e-pended addresses is spam. Why?

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  posted at: 23:37 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
Stable link is

20 Oct 2010

ICANN's compliance has a long way to go ICANN

About a month ago I reported a domain to ICANN which has the most completely bogus WHOIS non-information I've ever seen. On Monday they sent me this message.

Take a look at the WHOIS info in the message, which is exactly the same as it was when I reported it. I realize that doing a good job of compliance is hard, but really, we have computers. If Knujon can recognize obviously wrong WHOIS info, why can't ICANN?

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  posted at: 23:00 :: permanent link to this entry :: 3 comments
Stable link is

09 Oct 2010

A tempest in a Libyan teapot ICANN
The .LY domain is Libya, and their government recently
cancelled the registration of the short and snappy VB.LY, provoking great gnashing of teeth. If you direct your attention to the address bar above this page, you'll note that it's at JL.LY, equally short and snappy. The .LY registry started allowing two letter second-level domains last year, and there was a quiet land rush. Now they restrict those domains to people actually in Libya, but say they'll let us keep the ones we have. How concerned am I that they'll take my domain away, too? Slightly, but not very.

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  posted at: 17:06 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
Stable link is

06 Oct 2010

Mysteries of sort of opt-in mail Email
This week I got an email newsletter from a patent law firm near Washington DC. Since I didn't recognize the name of the firm, and the pharmaceutical patent law they do isn't related to anything I do so I was pretty sure I wouldn't have signed up and forgotten, and it was to my CAUCE address which I wouldn't use if I did sign up, it was spam. I was about to send of the usual mostly automatic report to their ESP, when I noticed that several of the items were written by an old college friend of mine. It wasn't out of the question that she'd put me on the list so I could see what she's doing, but she'd have used my regular address if she did. So I forwarded it to her and asked if she knew why they'd sent it to me.

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  posted at: 11:08 :: permanent link to this entry :: 1 comments
Stable link is

27 Sep 2010

The Spamhaus Whitelist Email

For several months I have been working with the Spamhaus project on a whitelist, which we announced to the public today. While this is hardly the first mail whitelist, our goals are somewhat different from other whitelists. Think of e-mail as ranging from inky black to pearly white, like this:

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  posted at: 15:24 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
Stable link is

17 Sep 2010

What are the most important spam legal decisions? Email

I'm working on a project to build a high quality online spam law archive. Finding the statutes is easy enough, but in the US you need case law as well. So what are the most important spam related court decisions?

Ones that occur to me include:

  • Gordon v. Virtumundo (9th circuit sets very high bar to CAN SPAM standing)
  • Omega World v. Mummagraphics (falsity must be material)
  • White Buffalo Ventures v. University of Texas at Austin (OK per 1st amendment for government to filter when acting as ISP rather than regulator)
  • Intel v. Hamidi (spam is not trespass without real damages)
  • Asis v. Optin Global/Azoogle (courts don't like sloppy serial plaintiffs)
  • Pallorium v. Jared (CDA protects anti-spam blacklists, state court version)
  • e360 v. Comcast (CDA protects spam filtering in general, federal court)
  • Cyberpromo v. AOL (old, but still the case that says there's no 1st amendment right to have e-mail delivered)

What else should I include?

  posted at: 22:40 :: permanent link to this entry :: 5 comments
Stable link is

13 Sep 2010

How is clickwrap software like a stolen work of art? Copyright Law
A recent case decided by a three-judge panel in the Ninth Circuit has been widely reported as saying that shrink-wrap license agreements on software supersede the traditional first sale rule, and mean that software vendors can keep customers from reselling packaged software. Having read the decision, it's a case with a messy set of facts that don't quite mean that first sale is dead.

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  posted at: 15:25 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
Stable link is

01 Sep 2010

ARF is now an IETF standard Email

When a user of a large mail system such as AOL, Yahoo, or Hotmail reports a message as junk or spam, one of the things the system does is to look at the source of the message and see if the source is one that has a feedback loop (FBL) agreement with the mail system. If so, it sends a copy of the message back to the source, so they can take appropriate action, for some version of appropriate. For several years, ARF, Abuse Reporting Format, has been the de-facto standard form that large mail systems use to exchange FBL reports about user mail complaints.

Until now, the only documentation for ARF was a draft spec originally written Yakov Shafranovich in 2005, and occasionally updated originally by him and later by other people including myself. Earlier this year, the IETF chartered a working group called MARF which took that draft, brought the references up to date, stripped out a lot of options that seemed useful five years ago but in practice nobody ever used, and this week it was finally published as RFC 5965.

See more ...

  posted at: 11:08 :: permanent link to this entry :: 2 comments
Stable link is

29 Aug 2010

Truth in spamming Email

Here's the body of a phish purporting to tell me about a $386 refund from the Canada Revenue Agency. Even disregarding the signature that says Internal Revenue Service, check out that alt text and file name for the image.

After the last annual calculations of your fiscal activity we have
determined that you are eligible to receive a tax refund of $386.00
Please submit the tax refund request and allow us 6-9 days in order to
process it. <br />
<br />
A refund can be delayed for a variety of reasons. For example
submitting invalid records or applying after the deadline.
<br />
<img height="340" alt="Fake CRA site"
width="450" /><br /> To access the form for your tax refund, please
href="URL of phish site">click
here</a></U> <br />
<br />
Regards, <br />
Internal Revenue Service

  posted at: 19:01 :: permanent link to this entry :: 1 comments
Stable link is

09 Aug 2010

Google and Verizon offer a gift to spammers Email
Earlier today, Google and Verizon offered a widely publicized "Proposal for an Open Internet." There's been extensive comment with
lots of reasons not to like it, but one I haven't seen is that the proposal would make it much harder to filter so-called "mainsleaze" spam.

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  posted at: 23:55 :: permanent link to this entry :: 1 comments
Stable link is

08 Aug 2010

One more round in E360 Insight vs. Spamhaus Email
Back in 2007, the Seventh Circuit
sent the case back to the trial court and it's been moving very, very, very slowly, mostly because E360 repeatedly failed to respond when they were supposed to. On June 11, Judge Korcoras made his decision. He found plaintiff David Linhardt's estimates of his losses rather unpersuasive, and awarded him $1 on claims of tortious interference with prospective economic advantage, and $1 for defamation. But he also awarded $27,000 for interference with E360's existing contracts, based on one month's revenue from his three customers Smart Bargains, Vendare, and Optinbig. A few days ago, Spamhaus' lawyers filed a very clever motion to reconsider.

See more ...

  posted at: 10:56 :: permanent link to this entry :: 4 comments
Stable link is

01 Aug 2010

Even if Do-not-track were a good idea, could it ever work?

In a recent article, I read about increasingly intrusive tracking of online users, which has lead to a proposal at the FTC

FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said the system would be similar to the Do-Not-Call registry that enables consumers to shield their phone numbers from telemarketers.
Maybe I'm dense, but even if this weren't a fundamentally bad idea for policy reasons, I don't see how it could work.

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  posted at: 20:17 :: permanent link to this entry :: 1 comments
Stable link is

27 Jul 2010

It's legal to jailbreak your iPhone, sort of Copyright Law
fairly breathless news coverage has said that the US government has said it's legal to jailbreak your iPhone. That's somewhat correct but the reality is, as usual, somewhat more complex.

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  posted at: 23:02 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
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12 Jul 2010

Does the First Amendment forbid spam filtering? Email

A friend of mine wrote to ask:

The Supreme Court overturned the Jaynes conviction on First Amendment grounds, yes? I'm wondering what that could mean from the spam filtering perspective.
Spam filters, and in particular DNS blacklists are intended to prevent e-mail from being delivered. Doesn't the First Amendment make it illegal to block speech? The short answer is no, but of course it's slightly more complicated than that in practice.

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  posted at: 10:45 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
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Virginia court throws out spam law; one spammer gets away with it Email
The 2004 criminal spam case against large-scale spammer Jeremy Jaynes, which I've covered in several
previous blog entries, appears to have come to an ignominious end with the state supreme court throwing out the law under which he was convicted. The Virginia anti-spam law was one of the first in the country with criminal provisions, but it failed due to the way that First Amendment cases are treated differently from all other cases.

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  posted at: 03:10 :: permanent link to this entry :: 1 comments
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26 Jun 2010

The .XXX fiasco is almost over ICANN

At Friday's meeting of the ICANN board in Brussels, they voted, probably for the last time, to approve the 2004 application for the .XXX domain.

Purely on the merits, there is of course no need for a top level domain for porn. This isn't about the merits, this is about whether ICANN follows its own rules. Despite overheated press reports, .XXX will not make porn any more available online than it already is (how could it?), there is no chance of all porn being forced into .XXX (that's a non-starter under US law), and .XXX will have no effect on the net other than perhaps being a place to put legal but socially marginal porn far away from any accidental visitors.

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  posted at: 01:53 :: permanent link to this entry :: 1 comments
Stable link is

06 Jun 2010

Does CAN SPAM cover affiliate spam? Email

Affiliate marketing is a popular way to advertise on the Net. A company signs up affiliates, or more often an intermediary that signs up the affiliates, and pays for each lead or each sale. Web affiliate marketing is fairly respectable (check out my Amazon affiliate store and the links on my airline ticket web site) but mail affiliates, particularly mail affiliates through intermediaries, are a cesspit. While there are doubtless mail affiliates that behave themselves, there are far too many of them that sign up and spam like crazy on the somewhat accurate theory that the more spam they send, the more responses they will get and the more leads they'll have to sell, with the only downside being that they might have a cheap hosting account cancelled.

The marketers and intermediaries invariably make the affiliates promise not to spam, but since they don't know what addresses the affiliates are mailing to, and see only the leads and (maybe) the occasional complaint from recipients of the ads, it's extremely difficult to monitor what the affiliates are doing. Moreover, it is very hard to build a substantial true opt-in mailing list, and if you have a good list, its value for your own business is too great to be worth annoying the people on it by sending third-party ads. Hence affiliates have to use lousy lists, such as purchased lists of dubious provenance, addresses mechanically scraped off web sites. It's an open secret in the business that the business is full of sleazeballs who will cheerfully do things like using a suppression list provided by marketer A as a prospect list for marketer B.

With this in mind, does a marketer bear responsibility under CAN SPAM for mail that affiliates send? The answer, both from the wording of CAN SPAM and from simple logic, should be of course it does, but the sad tale of ASIS vs. Azoogle suggests that judges think it doesn't, at least not in the Ninth Circuit.

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  posted at: 01:08 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
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26 May 2010

What are e-books worth? (Part I) Copyright Law

For us authors who have been writing paper books, e-books are the savior of the industry, or a a disastrous pact with the devil, or maybe both at the same time. The splashy launch of the Apple iPad, of which there are now over a million in users' hands, has coincided with a power struggle among Amazon, whose Kindle makes them the dominant retailer of e-books, Apple, who wants to muscle in using the iPad, and the major book publishers. Google also plans to enter the market this summer through their Google Editions store, selling copies of many of the books they've scanned in Google Books.

There are two main problems with the e-book market--e-books are not much cheaper for a publisher to produce than paper books, but they are for the buyer a far inferior product.

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  posted at: 16:22 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
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22 May 2010

Verisign leaves the security certificate business Internet
Earlier this week in a
press release, Verisign said that they are selling their SSL certificate business to Symantec. Verisign is the dominant player in this market, having absorbed competitor Thawte in 1999, and Geotrust in 2006. Three years ago, when Verisign decided to divest its non-core businesses, they kept the certificate business. So what's changed?

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  posted at: 01:02 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
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16 May 2010

Photographers pile on to the Google settlement bandwagon Copyright Law
Last month the American Society of Media Photographers and other professional photographers filed
a class action suit against Google that bears a startling, dare I say, near photographic resemblance to the Authors Guild vs. Google class action. The latter case came to a proposed settlement that, in the opinion of many people including me, would be a breathtakingly aggressive rewrite of global copyright law in favor of Google and the members of the Authors Guild. (I'm a member, but they've never asked me or any other member whether we want them to do so.) The settlement has been in and out of court for the past couple of years, having provoked objections from parties ranging from the US Department of Justice to the State of Connecticut to the Federal Republic of Germany to the Open Book Alliance.

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  posted at: 01:32 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
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15 May 2010

The most confused spam suit of the year Email
Last year, Russ Smith of filed a
most peculiar suit against Comcast (his home ISP), Microsoft, Cisco, and TrustE, pro se, claiming a long laundry list of malicious behavior and privacy violations. Last week the judge threw out the entire suit, but gave him one more chance to refile and try to correct the flaws. Among Smith's claims are that Comcast and Microsoft's Frontbridge subsidiary have blacklisted him personally. To the surprise of many observers, the judge did not accept Comcast's defense that 47 USC 230 (the CDA) gives them blanket immunity for good faith spam filtering. Smith claimed that Comcast said they'd unblock his mail if he paid them more money, which he interpreted as pay to spam, which if true would mean the blocking was in bad faith. While Comcast may well have said something like that, it didn't mean what Smith claimed. Having exchanged some mail about the suit with Smith last fall, I think I understand what was going on, which was that despite having some sort of certificate called a CISSP, Smith fails to understand the way that e-mail works, and he has imagined a vast conspiracy to explain what was really configuration errors, a poor choice of server hosting, and perhaps malware infecting his mail server.

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  posted at: 01:50 :: permanent link to this entry :: 7 comments
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14 May 2010

What are e-books worth? (Part II) Copyright Law

In our last installment we learned that most of the cost of a paper book is in spent the editorial process, not the physical printing and binding, so even though e-books cost nothing to produce physically, the cost to the publisher is nearly the same, so they can't afford to sell them for much less than paper books.

Today we'll look at the reasons that, even though they have some undeniable advantages, e-books are worth a lot less to book buyers than paper books. Assuming you already have a reading device like a Kindle, an iPad, or a Sony reader, you can store hundreds of e-books in it. In some cases you can share the books, along with your bookmarks and notes between devices, e.g., a Kindle and an iTouch or Blackberry running the Kindle app. The problem is that the "book" you buy to read on your device is not really a book, it's what publishers wish books were.

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  posted at: 01:22 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
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08 May 2010

The real issue about ICANN and .XXX ICANN

Way back in 2004, ICANN invited applications for a round of new TLDs. They got quite a few. Some were uncontroversial, such as .JOBS for the HR industry. Some were uncontroversial but took a long time, such as .POST which took five years of negotiation, entirely due to the legal peculiarities of the registry being part of the UN. But one was really controversial, .XXX. By 2005, the applicant, ICM registry, had satisfied all the criteria that ICANN set out in the 2004 round to get .XXX approved, and ICANN has been stalling them ever since, including an ICANN board vote against approval in 2007. Most recently, ICM used a reconsideration process specified in ICANN's bylaws to review the board's actions, and the report not surprisingly said that ICM had followed all the rules, and the board had not.

Before discussing what the issue with .XXX is, here are some things that the issue isn't.

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  posted at: 01:46 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
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06 May 2010

Why aren't there more spam lawsuits? Email
The CAN SPAM act has been in place for five and a half years. Compatible state laws have been in place nearly as long. Anti-spam laws in the EU, Australia, and New Zealand were enacted years ago. But the number of significant anti-spam lawsuits is so small that individual bloggers can easily keep track of them. Considering that several billion spams a day are sent to people's inboxes, where are all the anti-spam lawsuits?

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  posted at: 01:33 :: permanent link to this entry :: 3 comments
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21 Apr 2010

More on portable email addresses Email
Last month a bill in the Israeli Knesset would have required ISPs to provide portable e-mail addresses, analogous to portable phone numbers that one can take from one phone company to the other. As I
noted at the time, e-mail works differently from telephone calls, and portability would be difficult, expensive, and unreliable. So I was wondering, idly, if we really wanted to provide portable e-mail addresses, how hard would it be?

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  posted at: 00:43 :: permanent link to this entry :: 3 comments
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14 Apr 2010

Another spam case lost in Washington, or Gordon strikes again Email
Bennett Haselton, who runs the
Peacefire anti-censorship site, is one of the more successful anti-spam litigants. He says he's filed about 140 suits, mostly in small claims court, and has won the majority of the suits that got far enough to be decided on the merits. But last month, in Federal court in Seattle, he lost a suit against Quicken Loans that he should have won, partly because of his own mistakes, but largely because of the pernicious effect of Gordon vs. Virtumundo.

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  posted at: 11:08 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
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22 Mar 2010

Oh, really? Email
This morning I got a paper catalog addressed to VICE PRESIDENT OF MARKETING, NETWORK ABUSE CLEARINGHOUSE, better known as, from infoUSA, the giant junk mail database company. Vice President? Wow, must be someone important, but since there's nobody here but me, I guess I'll take a look.

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  posted at: 15:53 :: permanent link to this entry :: 1 comments
Stable link is

06 Mar 2010

Are portable e-mail addresses possible? Email
News reports say that the Israeli government is close to passing a law that requires portable e-mail addresses, similar to portable phone numbers. Number portability has been a success, making it much easier to switch from one provider to another, and address portability might ease switching among ISPs. But e-mail is not phone calls. Is it even possible?

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  posted at: 01:08 :: permanent link to this entry :: 2 comments
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26 Feb 2010

Another reason not to buy mailing lists Email

A recent online article in BtoB magazine about Sending e-mail when you don't have an opt-in has caused quite a stir in the online marketing and anti-spam community, but perhaps not for the reasons the author hoped.

The article is about a company called Netprospex which sells and trades contact lists, for the specific purpose of marketing. Other people have noted that buying a list from them and mailing to it is a quick route to getting yourself booted off your provider, but I was idly wondering, since single messages to real people are generally OK, if their individual contacts were useful.

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  posted at: 01:18 :: permanent link to this entry :: 1 comments
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16 Feb 2010

Looking for Jefferson's Moose, but not finding it ICANN

Law and policy professor David Post's book In Search of Jefferson's Moose looks at the growth of the Internet, using some aspects of the early history of the American republic as a metaphor. It received a lot of positive reviews when it came out last year.

I read it, and was surprised to find that the reviews all missed a critical detail: most of what he says about the Internet is just plain factually wrong, which discredits all his conclusions. You can read my full review here with the dismaying details.

  posted at: 19:26 :: permanent link to this entry :: 3 comments
Stable link is

15 Feb 2010

No more free money: everything bad you've heard about Capital One is true Money

For the past couple of months, I've been trying an experiment in which I deposit "payment checks" from my credit card in my savings account, then pay off the account when the bill comes so I collect the savings interest. But not any more.

On Feb 4th, I paid the balance from last time, and on Feb 5th, Capital One's web site said my balance was zero and I had lots of credit. So on the 8th, the next time I was at the bank, I deposited this month's payment check. On the 11th Capital One bounced it. Huh?

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  posted at: 17:54 :: permanent link to this entry :: 3 comments
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28 Jan 2010

Free Money: January update and tax planning Money

Capital One sent me some "payment checks" which give a grace period just like a credit card charge, so I deposited a couple in my savings account to collect the interest.

Earlier this month I paid my bill electronically the day before the due date, and once I saw it had posted on their site, I wrote myself another check and deposited it in the bank. Payment and deposit posted at the bank on the same day, so I'm earning my 1.35% APY uninterrupted. When this month's bill arrived, there were three more payment checks in the envelope with it, and in the same day's mail was a little booklet with three more, just in case. I guess they really want to lend me money at 0% interest.

In the meantime, I've been pondering how to best pay my taxes. Since I'm self-employed my income varies a lot from year to year, and this year I'll have a large payment due in April. I could write them a check, but what fun would that be?

You can pay your taxes with plastic through three providers who have arrangements with the IRS. Since the IRS won't pay a merchant fee, they all charge extra. If you use a credit card, they charge 1.95% or 2.35%, much more than any plausible card rebate. But if you pay with a debit card, there's a flat fee of about $4. One bank I use now offers reward points on debit card payments. It's not a lot, one point per $2 with a point being worth about a penny, but a payment of $800 would earn more than $4 of points, and my tax bill will be considerably more than that. Hmmn.

  posted at: 01:13 :: permanent link to this entry :: 2 comments
Stable link is

01 Jan 2010

Google Loses Another Domain Name Dispute ICANN

For the benefit of trademark owners, ICANN has something called the UDRP (Uniform Dispute Resolution Process) that allows the owner to file a complaint against an allegedly infringing domain name, to be resolved by one of a small set of arbitrators. About 90% of UDRP cases that proceeed to a decision are decided in favor of the complainant; opnions differ as to whether that's because of the merit of the complaints or the institutional bias of the arbitrators.

Google files lots of UDRP complaints. One arbitrator is the World International Property Organization in Geneva. In 2009 they decided all of their Google cases in Google's favor:,,,,,, and

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