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


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29 Dec 2013

Great minds think alike Money

In the unlikely event that anyone doesn't follow Paul Krugman's NY Times blog, he posted a long excerpt from a note I sent him about Bitcoins.

  posted at: 20:48 :: permanent link to this entry :: 3 comments
Stable link is

23 Dec 2013

The naive arrogance of FUSSPs Email
Everyone who's been in the e-mail biz long enough knows the term FUSSP, Final Ultimate Solution to the Spam Problem, as described in a checklist from
Vern Schryver and a form response that's been floating around the net for a decade.

See more ...

  posted at: 00:23 :: permanent link to this entry :: 4 comments
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23 Nov 2013

Trying, and failing, to cash in my bitcoins Money
Having bought some Bitcoins, and then bought some coffee with them, the question was what to do with the rest of them.

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  posted at: 23:15 :: permanent link to this entry :: 2 comments
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17 Nov 2013

Judge to Authors Guild: it's fair use. You lose. Copyright Law
Today the long running Authors Guild vs. Google case ended for all practical purposes. Judge Denny Chin, who has been patiently overseeing the case for nearly a decade, issued a short, clear
summary judgement ruling in which he agreed that the Guild had no credible arguments and granted Google's motion to dismiss.

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  posted at: 14:42 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
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Buying coffee with Bitcoins Money
Having bought some Bitcoins, I figured I should try to buy something with them. Fortunately, the coffee shop in which the vending machine is located says you can pay with them. But I couldn't just walk over from the machine to the counter. First I needed to figure out how to use a wallet.

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  posted at: 02:24 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
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10 Nov 2013

The Bitcoin vending machine Money
I was at IETF 88 last week in Vancouver. Probably not by coincidence, a coffee shop a few blocks away had just installed a Bitcoin vending machine, and since I've said lots of rude things about Bitcoins (which are still pet rocks only without the rocks) I figured I should go try it out.

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  posted at: 23:04 :: permanent link to this entry :: 1 comments
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28 Oct 2013

The DMA sends e-mail that's memorable, but not in a good way Email
The Direct Marketing Organization (DMA) is the trade association for companies that advertise by paper junk mail. They were the driving force behind the weak opt-out CAN SPAM act, which kept a much stronger California law from going into effect. For a while about a decade ago it sponsored a useless do-not-spam database which was supposed to solve the spam problem. But yesterday, the DMA reminded us how well they really understand e-mail marketing.

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  posted at: 10:34 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
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19 Oct 2013

An internet governance update ICANN

A lot of people (including me) are pretty upset at revelations of the breadth and scale of NSA spying on the Internet, which has created a great deal of ill will toward the US government? Will this be a turning point in Internet Governance?

No, smoke will continue to be blown and nothing will happen.

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  posted at: 23:59 :: permanent link to this entry :: 1 comments
Stable link is

15 Oct 2013

About those anonymous bitcoins Internet
Recent press reports say that Silk Road, an online marketplace for illegal goods, was shut down by the FBI, who seized the servers and
about 26,000 bitcoins in multiple wallets. They also apparently have all of the site's records of transactions among about 4,000 sellers and 150,000 buyers. If you're one of these buyers or sellers, now what?

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  posted at: 10:29 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
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19 Sep 2013

Wow. that's a lot of reserved names ICANN
ICANN recently updated the
list of reserved second level domain names. Those are names that you won't be able to register in any of the 1500 or so new domains they're planning to add. There's rather a lot of them, currently 629.

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  posted at: 13:18 :: permanent link to this entry :: 2 comments
Stable link is

16 Sep 2013

How not to stop spammers Email

Spam Arrest is a company that sells an anti-spam service. They attempted to sue some spammers and, as has been widely reported, lost badly. This case emphasizes three points that litigious antispammers seem not to grasp:

  • Under CAN SPAM, a lot of spam is legal.
  • Judges hate plaintiffs who try to be too clever, and hate sloppy preparation even more.
  • Never, ever, file a spam suit in Seattle.

    See more ...

  posted at: 09:53 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
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12 Sep 2013

Plumbing Neutrality Internet

I've been having arguments about Network Neutrality with a lawyer. My position is that you can't adequately regulate ISPs to be neutral, because there's no agreement what "neutral" means in practice. He points out that the courts aren't interested in technical details like what packets are dropped, it's that all traffic has to be treated the same, and ISPs should just figure out how to do that.

So I contemplated a city with Plumbing Neutrality with the simple rule that all people must be treated the same

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  posted at: 12:58 :: permanent link to this entry :: 3 comments
Stable link is

19 Aug 2013

Is this the worst WHOIS of all time? ICANN
Here is the entire WHOIS result for the domain No names, no addresses, no phone numbers, just one gmail address. I know the domain is in use, because an ESP (bulk mail provider) sent in some updates saying they're a client.

See more ...

  posted at: 18:15 :: permanent link to this entry :: 1 comments
Stable link is

12 Aug 2013

What's up with WEIRDS? ICANN

The IETF WEIRDS working group is defining a follow-on to WHOIS. Since this is the IETF, it's working on the technical issues about which it can deal with, not policy which is up to ICANN and the country registries.

Somewhat to my surprise, the group is making steady progress. We've agreed that the basic model is RESTful, with queries via http, and responses as JSON data structures. The protocol is named RDAP for Registration Data Access Protocol, or maybe RESTful Data Access protocol.

See more ...

  posted at: 12:26 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
Stable link is

22 Jul 2013

E-pending in real life Email

The other day I got an odd flyer in the mail, sent from Singapore, advertising a $1,000 six volume reference set about wellbeing, which is apparently an academic subject these days. (Click on the label to see the whole thing.)

This is a rather odd thing to arrive in my mailbox, since it is not a topic in which I have ever shown the least bit of interest. But a little squinting at the label reveals what happened.

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  posted at: 23:53 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
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20 Jul 2013

Four New Generic Domains ICANN
At its meeting in Durban, ICANN signed contracts with the applicants for four new top level domains. The new domains are شبكة, which means "web" in Arabic, онлайн and сайт, which mean "online" and "site" in Russian, and 游戏, which means "game" in Chinese. They should give us an interesting hint about the future of the new TLDs, because all four are utterly, totally, generic.

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  posted at: 00:37 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
Stable link is

18 Jul 2013

Cargo cult account security Internet

Arthur in L.A. asks:

Why do online accounts like the one at my alarm company keep adding extra security questions? The choices always require either a subjective answer ("What's your favorite movie?") or, in a two-person household, more than one answer ("In what city did your parents meet?")
We all know that passwords are a terrible security mechanism. People forget them, and bad guys are ever better at guessing them. So there are basically three ways to authenticate a person: something you know, such as a password, something you have, such as a driver's license, and something you are, a biometric. Two-factor authentication schemes are much more secure than single factor.

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  posted at: 00:25 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
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05 Jul 2013

The Winklevoss twins are looking for some greater fools. Like you, perhaps. Money

You've probably heard about the Winklevoss twins, who got a great deal of money from Facebook in a 2008 lawsuit. Now they have bought up a vast number of bitcoins—reportedly about 1% of all of them—and presumably want to make bug bucks in the bitcoin market, but to succeed they need some suckers to help them out.

They recently filed a preliminary prospectus with the SEC for the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust, which is intended to be an exchange traded fund (ETF), Felix Salmon blogged about the reasons that it would be a terrible investment if the SEC allowed it which they probably won't, but I haven't seen comments on the key fact that this ETF appears primarily a way for the Winklevii to unload their bitcoins on a large pool of greater fools.

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  posted at: 15:14 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
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01 Jul 2013

Google Books case part 4,523: decide fair use first Copyright Law
The endless lawsuit by the Authors Guild (which purports to represent authors, no longer including me), against Google moved another small step toward completion today.

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  posted at: 13:33 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
Stable link is

18 Jun 2013

Magazine agent list theft spam Email
Scientific American is a well known respectable magazine that's been around forever. So this is a normal renewal notice, right? Wrong. It's spam from a crooked subscription agent.

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  posted at: 18:44 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
Stable link is

11 Jun 2013

CAN SPAM issues in Zoobuh v. Better Broadcasting Email
Last week a Utah court issued
a default judgement under CAN SPAM in Zoobuh vs. Better Broadcasting et al. I think the court's opinion is pretty good, even though some observers such as very perceptive Venkat Balasubramani have reservations.

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  posted at: 11:46 :: permanent link to this entry :: 2 comments
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10 Jun 2013

More on Liberty Reserve and Bitcoin Money

Bill Cole had some interesting comments on my Liberty Reserve post which are worth following up.

He noted that although all of the bitcoin transactions are in the public log, the wallets aren't, so if you sell someone your wallet, that's an anonymous transaction. While that's quite true, it also breaks one of the fundamental points of bitcoin which is that users don't have to trust each other.

See more ...

  posted at: 23:56 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
Stable link is

29 May 2013

Liberty Reserve now, Bitcoin next? Money
The papers have been abuzz with the
shutdown of Liberty Reserve, an online payments system, due to accusations of large scale money laundering via anonymous transactions. Many people have noted similarities between LR and Bitcoin and wonder whether Bitcoin is next. I doubt it, because with Bitcoin, nothing is anonymous.

See more ...

  posted at: 02:35 :: permanent link to this entry :: 2 comments
Stable link is

11 May 2013

Buying coffee via a series of tubes Money

When I was a small boy and needed clothes, my mother would take me to the Best's department store, where we'd pick something out, and then go to pay for it. The clerk would take the money and the slips, put them in a cylindrical container, and send them off with a whoosh through a pneumatic tube to somewhere upstairs. After a delay of what seemed to me to be about a week and a half, our change and receipt would whoosh back, and we could go.

Buying things with Bitcoin is a lot like that. It's really, really slow to use, like ten minutes to several hours per transaction. While there are workarounds to speed it up, they all break some of the aspects of Bitcoin that make it different from normal money.

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  posted at: 23:09 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
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07 May 2013

Poor Palau Email
Palau is a tiny country of about 20,000 people with excellent snorkeling in the South Pacific. Like every country, it has a two-letter country domain .PW. Back in 2004, Palau leased .PW to Encirca, who tried to brand it as Personal Web, with approximately no success. Late last year, DirectI took it over and rebranded it as Professional Web. They went through an ICANN-style sunrise and landrush process and apparently got tens of thousands of defensive registrations. About a month ago, they opened it up to everyone with very cheap $5 registrations, and the spam began.

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  posted at: 17:23 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
Stable link is

04 May 2013

I don't think I'll be unblocking mail from .PW any time soon Email

One of the managers at .PW sent me a note saying that (paraphrased) now that the world knows their customers are gushing spam, they're finally starting to set up some of the anti-abuse measures that they should have done in the first place.

But then I got my first response to an abuse report:

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  posted at: 20:13 :: permanent link to this entry :: 2 comments
Stable link is

22 Apr 2013

Why I don't like LinkedIn, part XLXXVIII Email

LinkedIn is probably the most successful social network other than Facebook. They've carefully positioned themselves as the network for professionals. I've been a LinkedIn member for a long time, and have 735 connections (all people I actually know at least a little.)

Nonetheless, I am ever closer to closing my account and dumping the whole thing. Why? Because they are phenomenally annoying. Consider this message they just sent me:

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  posted at: 22:14 :: permanent link to this entry :: 1 comments
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15 Apr 2013

There's nothing like a poke with a sharp stick Internet

Last week I blogged about a white paper Verisign sent ICANN called New gTLD Security and Stability Considerations in which they listed a bunch of reasons that ICANN isn't ready to roll out lots of new TLDs. Among the reasons were that several of the services the new GTLDs are required to use aren't available yet, including the Emergency Back End Registry Operators (EBEROs), who would take over the registry functions for a TLD whose operator failed. They were supposed to have been chosen in mid-2012.

By complete coincidence, yesterday ICANN announced that they had chosen the three Emergency Back End Registry Operators. I can't wait to see what happens next week.

  posted at: 08:16 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
Stable link is

01 Apr 2013

ICANN announces Blocking Usage Review Panel ICANN

Culminating a year-long policy development process, ICANN today launched its new Blocking Usage Review Panel (BURP). The BURP provides long-needed oversight over services that block Internet traffic.

"While everyone understands that national laws such as the U.S. CAN SPAM define what traffic is or is not elegible to block, legal processes can be slow and cumbersome," said a spokeswoman. "Since the Internet is global and traffic often traverses multiple countries, the array of different laws cause uncertainty."

See more ...

  posted at: 11:14 :: permanent link to this entry :: 2 comments
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31 Mar 2013

Verisign doesn't think the net is ready for a thousand new TLDs Internet

Yesterday Verisign sent ICANN a most interesting white paper called New gTLD Security and Stability Considerations. They also filed a copy with the SEC as an 8-K, a document that their stockholders should know about,

It's worth reading the whole thing, but in short, their well-supported opinion is that the net isn't ready for all the new TLDs, and even if they were, ICANN's processes or lack thereof will cause other huge problems.

See more ...

  posted at: 02:05 :: permanent link to this entry :: 1 comments
Stable link is

01 Mar 2013

Leak of the week: dropbox Email

A friend and I were corresponding about the many otherwise legitimate companies who leak addresses to spammers, such as the Economist and the IEEE.

He was surprised to note that his Dropbox address was now getting spam, I looked at the logs and what do you know, starting this Tuesday I was too, I just hadn't noticed because it was all so spammy it got caught by content filters. Tsk, tsk.

Looking at previous mail, I don't see any of it coming from an ESP, so it seems to have been an internal leak. Double tsk, tsk.

  posted at: 17:53 :: permanent link to this entry :: 1 comments
Stable link is

30 Jan 2013

The incredible leakyness of commercial mailers (cont'd) Email
Last week I
blogged about the way that lots of otherwise legitimate companies leak e-mail addresses to spammers. Here's a few more thoughts.

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  posted at: 01:51 :: permanent link to this entry :: 1 comments
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20 Jan 2013

The incredible leakyness of commercial mailers Email

Acronis is a company that sells backup software. They have been around for over a decade, and have lots of big respectable customers. The Wall Street Journal is the nation's leading business newspaper. Equifax is one of the big three national credit bureaus. Shelfari is a book interest web site owned by Amazon. The Economist is a globally influential newsweekly. is a popular photosharing site for airplane enthusiasts. What do they have in common?

They all leaked my address to spammers, and none of them have ever accepted any responsibility.

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  posted at: 01:04 :: permanent link to this entry :: 8 comments
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07 Jan 2013

Making multi-language mail work (Part III) Email

In the previous installments we looked at software changes in mail servers, and in the software that lets user mail programs pick up mail. What has to change in the user mail programs?

Keeping in mind that I am far from a usability expert (my ideal interface is a model 33 Teletype), there are a few things that I can describe without going into the details of exactly how they would look.

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  posted at: 11:19 :: permanent link to this entry :: 1 comments
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