I am pissed.
My server has been blacklisted by various spam blacklist sites… because my nameserver (something I do not control) and my netblock is owned by someone the RBLs don’t like.
I found out today that our hoster, Quantum Tech, is owned by a convicted spammer. But unless you rub shoulders in the dark and dingy vigilante world, it’s actually pretty hard to find out that Quantum Tech and the spammer are related. Global Web have been convicted and so they must have been forced to pay up, or else QT wouldn’t still be here. My view is that once justice has been handed out, life goes on. So like IBM and Microsoft, anti-trust convicts and other nefarious firms, once the punishment is handed out, people continue to buy from them even though their reputation has been sullied. Except that I had no idea that QT were dodgy. Saying that though, QT have provided us pretty good service for the price, and the performance of the server and network has been fine, unlike our previous hosters.
The RBLs cannot act like some cowboy sheriff from the wild west and continue their jihad against their mortal enemies. The law has had its say. If further crimes are committed, then it’s still the law’s turn, not theirs.
But that’s all an irrelevant red herring – my problem is not with Quantum Tech. It’s with the RBL vigilantes.
The terrorists at Spamhaus and SPEWS are blocking my nameserver and my dedicated host’s netblock. This basically means that for ISPs – who like stupid sheep are using these services – password reset e-mails from our site do not work reliably due to the black listing. Despite the fact WE DO NOT and NEVER WILL SPAM. If the RBLs had proof that our IP or host spammed, then sure, I can understand that, but to be tarred with the feathers of someone we don’t control and don’t care to know anything about is just stupid. It’s like all the people in a state of a country being convicted of a crime because one or two people in that state actually did do that crime. Convicted by people who appointed themselves as judge, jury and executioner, with no appeals.
I’ve had two communications so far, both dismissive of my complaint. It’s harder to get off an RBL than it is to get off a spammers mail list using the “Remove me” link. As these RBL folks act illegally, there’s no natural justice, ie no recourse to arbitration, and no mediation or dispute resolution services. Why would they? They impose their view upon the world, damn the rest. It’s creating a nuclear wasteland. More to the point, their actions are illegal.
I did some research to see what laws they are breaking in Australia. The one that got my fancy is the CyberCrime Act 2001, which amends a bunch of criminal laws to make DoS and attacks illegal. It’s pretty comprehensive and balanced for the most part. I had a hand in getting a few changes in there whilst I was president of SAGE AU – we responded to the Senate enquiry to get system admins protected whilst they were doing their job as we remember what happened to Randal Schwartz and I personally wanted to make sure that the clauses previously protecting only Commonwealth computers was extended to all computers in Australia.
The section which I draw your attention to is 476.2:
476.2 Meaning of unauthorised access, modification or impairment
(1) In this Part:
(a) access to data held in a computer; or
(b) modification of data held in a computer; or
(c) the impairment of electronic communication to or from a
(d) the impairment of the reliability, security or operation of any
data held on a computer disk, credit card or other device used
to store data by electronic means;
by a person is unauthorised if the person is not entitled to cause
that access, modification or impairment.
(2) Any such access, modification or impairment caused by the person
is not unauthorised merely because he or she has an ulterior
purpose for causing it.
(3) For the purposes of an offence under this Part, a person causes any
such unauthorised access, modification or impairment if the
personâ€™s conduct substantially contributes to it.
Therefore, any unauthorized impairment, even for supposedly good purposes like spam prevention is illegal unless authorized. And for my system, you require my authorization, and I’m not going to give it. So effectively, SPEWS and Spamhaus are acting criminally if they block any Australian IP address or system controlled by Australians.
But far, far worse than this is the sheer arrogance demonstrated by their faceless peons who are too cowardly to sign their own names to their e-mails.
I asked reasonably firmly but politely that they remove their blocks:
You have placed my sites into an overreaching netblock, affecting aussieveedubbers.com, a site containing 4500 VW car nuts. None of the sites hosted on my dedicated server under my direct control are spam boxes. I detest spam, but you’re not helping … at all.
Please carve out two IP addresses from this listing:
126.96.36.199 – aussieveedubbers.com
188.8.131.52 – greebo.net vanderstock.com codesqa.com
Our nameservers will also need unblocking.
If your aim is to reduce spam, you are not doing it by blocking my site as we don’t spam. All you are doing is making me very angry. For the last few months, I have been hand processing 10 or 15 password resets per day that would have otherwise been handled automatically. That’s right – your useless service is blocking 10 or 15 legitimate e-mails a day. Good work, fellas. That’ll really knock the spam problem on the head.
If you do not fix this up within 24 hours, further action will be taken.
Here’s their response:
“We have placed?” How long have you been hosted on these IP addresses?
This range was listed on Feb 05, 2004 – almost exactly TWO YEARS AGO.
We’d suggest your talk to Mike Van Essen and his “Quantum Tech Pty Ltd”, the owner of these IP addresses, why he does not tell people, 1) that they are listed by us and others, and 2) why they are listed.
One must have due diligence as to where one hosts.
The Spamhaus Project
Despite their arrogant imputation we are clueless noobs (“due diligence as to where one hosts”), we in fact checked out Webhostingtalk (there’s one link to “Quantum Tech” back in 2002), and read over the AUP and conditions carefully. The price was right for a dedicated host for our non-profit car forum.
But it is completely unreasonable to think that we should perform a criminal background check against the ISP. Could you imagine every customer doing this to AOL, OptusNet, BlackBerry, or Verizon? Don’t make me laugh!
But it still misses the point – I DO NOT SPAM. Therefore, Spamhaus and friends should get their hands out of their backsides and remove their black list. Spamhaus and friends are causing us financial loss as users can’t register on our site and they can’t recover their passwords if they forget them. Spamhaus and friends are performing criminal and illegal denial of service / impairment of our legitimate service to our Australian users provided by a legitimate site run by Australians.
If this is not resolved soon, I will be reporting them to the police. I do not take such action lightly, but I have no choice. If you’re an admin, there’s no better time to ditch the awful RBLs and go with something that works. I will also do the ring around to my mates are various large ISPs and make sure they are not using these services. Nothing would make me happier than making Spews and Spamhaus powerless.
If I were Spamhaus or Spews, I’d be looking seriously why their efforts have failed. I get a bucket load of spam every day, and so their approach has obviously failed miserably. As a someone who respects the scientific method, you need to evaluate your own methods and results so you can improve them over time. I personally believe that RBLs are ineffective and need to be scrapped. But most of all, they need to respect the rule of law and work with their country’s anti-spam and cybercrime laws. They are effective. RBLs are not – their days are over.