> Heh, a few legitimate customers might have been inconvenienced, but when
> abuse@[owner-of-network] bounces with a "access denied", that's all you have
> Karl Denninger (karl@MCS.Net)| MCSNet - Serving Chicagoland and Wisconsin
I'd like to ask an operations question that deals with SPAM that hopefully
will be on topic. Here goes:
If you decide to start filtering out SPAM by blocking it from the source,
do you end up becoming a content provider because you're controlling what
your customers have access to?
There's a difference between being an *editor* and having a robot control
things based on the impact that a particular item has on your network.
If that is the case, what legal
implications arise from allowing certain news groups on your server that
contain material that is illegal (the alt.binaries.warez.* and some of the
alt.binaries.pictures.erotica.* groups come to mind)?
Well, we don't carry those groups because we believe we're *already* liable
(since we must reasonably know what is in the "warez" and "kiddie porn"
Are we now
responsible for those groups, and everything else that comes into your
network because you've taken the effort to start controlling what your
customers can see and do? A lot of us have gotten by on the premise that
we are not content providers, but service providers who can't control what
our customers see or do, and that there is illegal material out there that
we are not liable for.
I think you better talk to some attorneys.
Your shield from legal liability only extends as far as *reasonable*
ignorance of what is going on.
That is, if a customer is on IRC and is doing dope deals, and you're unaware
of it, you're not likely to be held responsible. There's no reasonable way
for you to know what is happening, nor any effective way for you to control
that kind of activity.
HOWEVER, the "alt.binaries.warez" groups, and more particularly, the groups
used *primarily* to distribute kiddie porn are another matter. Nobody with
half a neuron firing in their head is going to be able to make an argument
in a courtroom that the group "alt.binaries.warez.ibm-pc.windows" isn't a
group designed and operated for the purpose of distributing stolen software.
Or try "alt.binaries.pictures.teen-fuck". Tell me THAT's not obvious on
You are a distributor of content when it comes to Usenet. Since the volume
is enormous, and there is no effective way for you to police all of it, it
is not reasonable to expect you to do so.
But to put your head in the sand when you KNOW what's being carried in a
given group, and further, when that group consumes several standard-deviations
of resource above the mean or median of the Usenet system as a whole (thereby
causing you to buy more resource just to have it online) IMHO you're in
In fact, these "binaries" groups comprise a couple hundred areas (out of
30,000+ at present) but consume nearly FORTY PERCENT of the bandwidth
required by a full Usenet feed!
Try explaining to a judge how you had *no idea* that the groups for which
you had to spend 40% of your TOTAL Usenet resources to carry were being used
primarily as a conduit for distribution of illicit material.
Just think, responsibility for porn, warez,
hatespeech, harassment, etc. Could this actually be used in a court of
law? Although this is on the fringe of Network Operations as a whole, I
think it is a valid issue to be discussed on a Network Operators list
because blocking SPAM/UCE is an operational decision which might carry
some interesting legal dilemas with it.
Joe Shaw - firstname.lastname@example.org
NetAdmin - Insync Internet Services
The question is, ARE YOU CONSTRUCTIVELY AWARE OF IT.
Go talk to some good attorneys and take their advice. Just make sure
that you tell them the TRUTH about what's really going on in these groups
and what you know about them, because that's the guy (or gal) who's going
to be standing beside you in a courtroom if you ever have to test your
This is in fact an operational issue Joe, but not on the side which you
think it is. Even a common carrier (and basically nobody in this business
is one) cannot *knowingly ignore* illegal activity on their infrastructure.