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(January 2003)

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Subject: Re: Check out AOL Users Missing Email??
From: Nick Simicich <njs @ scifi . squawk . com>
Date: Mon, 27 Jan 2003 19:44:32 -0500
To: list-managers @ greatcircle . com
In-reply-to: <3E353648 . 4708 . DD7366 @ localhost>
References: <a05210206ba5b1f50fe8e @ [24 . 132 . 50 . 105]>

At 01:38 PM 2003-01-27 -0500, Bernie Cosell wrote:

On 27 Jan 2003 at 19:11, Loek Jehee wrote:

> Below you find an excellent mail from another of their victims that
> is and stays blocked. It is sent to me from one of my AOL subscribers.

Turns out that we're suffering from a similar problem [although we're not
blackklisted with AOL we are on one or another RBLs] --- Apparently some time
in the past QWest delegated our Class-C to someone who seems to have run afoul of some spam-vigilante [at this point, there's no way even to figure out which
previous owner of the IP block caused the problem, nor whether there was any
merit to the now long-out-of-date action].

This is pretty standard. You have been sold "damaged goods". When an ISP leases to a spammer, that address space ends up, not only on public RBLs, but on many many private blocklists. At the least, QWest should provide you new ip space and should allow you time to convert. It has gotten to the point that if a particular net has been used by spammers for a while, it has become damaged. Not all RBLs are public, and not all have public owners. Thank the spammers for that, they have sued to get their servers unlisted so that they could deliver their spam.

The person at was lucky: we still have had no luck [after three
weeks now] even getting a reply from the RBL folk, much less make any progress
on getting things fixed up.  This has nothing to do with AOL's policies, of
course, but it is one of the problems with handling spamming by arbitrarily
blocking IP subnets [not to mention that that action is a violation of protocl
[cf RFC 2821/4.5.1]]

I read your claim, and unless they are blocking mail to postmaster, then they are not in violation of 4.5.1. If they are, you could report them to However, the way I read it, if they return a 554 to your connect, followed by 503's until you send a quit, then they do not have to take mail to postmaster. They are allowed to do this in response to, for example, a denial of service attack.

Since many people believe that spam is a denial of service attack, it is not clear that spam does not justify blocking all mail from an IP address. I would say that spam to postmaster or abuse justifies blocking an address from sending mail to those addresses.

It is also true that there are a lot of people who do what I do: Pretty much accept all mail to postmaster (so long as it has a valid or null MAIL FROM:<>) or to abuse in the same circumstance. Block mail to lots of other addresses. Simple to do with most modern mail transfer agents.

> AOL is keeping Email from their customers. This is against the law!

Could you elaborate?  *what* law is it a violation of?  The very best hope I
think you'd have is some kind of breach of contract action, but I suspect that if you carefully read the ISP's ToS you'll find plenty of weasel words that'll
make that a tough row to hoe.  For example, one particularly aggressive throw-
the-mail-amail-because-we-think-it's-spam ISP has this in their ToS:

    [ISP] makes no warranties of any kind, whether expressed or implied,
    for the service it is providing. [ISP] disclaims any warranty of
    merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. [ISP] will not
    be responsible for any damage you suffer from use of its service
    including, but not limited to, loss of data, delays, misdeliveries or
    service interruptions caused by [ISP]'s negligence or your own errors
    or omissions.

So you can't say you weren't warned...:o)

Specifically, AOL makes this statement at:

AOL reserves the right to take all legal and technical steps available to prevent unsolicited bulk e-mail or other unauthorized e-mail from entering, utilizing or remaining within the AOL Network. Nothing in this policy is intended to grant any right to transmit or send e-mail to, or through, the AOL Network. AOL's failure to enforce this policy in every instance in which it might have application does not amount to a waiver of AOL's rights.

You know?  My guess is that most AOL users want it that way.

SPAM: Trademark for spiced, chopped ham manufactured by Hormel.
spam: Unsolicited, Bulk E-mail, where e-mail can be interpreted generally to mean electronic messages designed to be read by an individual, and it can include Usenet, SMS, AIM, etc. But if it is not all three of Unsolicited, Bulk, and E-mail, it simply is not spam. Misusing the term plays into the hands of the spammers, since it causes confusion, and spammers thrive on confusion. Spam is not speech, it is an action, like theft, or vandalism. If you were not confused, would you patronize a spammer?
Nick Simicich - njs @
scifi .
squawk .
com -
Stop by and light up the world!

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