Softlayer / Blocking Cuba IP's ?

Hello All,

This is a shout out to Softlayer Network Admin / Policy folks...

We just went thru a painful process to find out that Softlayer has recently decided to block Cuba IP Address Space....(on their cloud services).

I am not a politician, nor any kind of a policy expert, However I have a questions for the SoftLayer folks...

On What basis, legal requirement, logic, have they taken on the responsibility to implement such a Block ?

Considering the fact that such a block was just put in place about a week ago ?
Last time I checked, blocking any part of the world is not part of any legal requirements on any Global Service Provider ? other than a 'company policy' ?

Also, the Last time I checked the US Cuba relations are getting better not worse!

Would love to know what was the reasoning behind such action !

Thank you.

Faisal Imtiaz
Snappy Internet & Telecom

Being as Softlayer is owned by IBM and headquartered in Virginia, they are
pretty bound by U.S. sanctions policy, although this is obviously
overcompliance. Essentially if there was to be a prohibited customer and a
threat of enforcement, they want to be able to say they took extreme steps
to prevent use of their network in those countries.

This is also unfortunately a common sanctions compliance practice by
service providers -- GoDaddy had done so for years until recently and
Google continues to for GAE and GCE. Apparently Softlayer's network change
was put into place a couple of weeks ago, and covers all the
comprehensively sanctioned countries -- Iran, Cuba, Syria, North Korea and
Sudan (should block Crimea as well in that case).

It's not clear that their customers know they are blocked from something
like 150 million potential users, and you are right, in fact the Cuba
sanctions regulations were modified last month to expand authorizations on
such transaction. It's extremely counterproductive and in direct
contradiction to well established policy on Internet access in sanctioned

This is likely the same situation.

Yep, this is a classic case of Corporate Stupidity, "We don't want to deal with any possibility of an exposure, so we are going to take a self initiated actions to make our network becomes a cordoned off island'.... Oops, the fact that we are a communications service provider where such rules don't apply seems to get lost since no one wants to stick their neck out or use some brain cells for thinking things thru..

Anyhow, for those who are wondering how this has a trickle down affect !.... Well our customer is one of the few licensed charter flight operators to Cuba... There has to be information exchange in regards to these flights and passengers before the they are allowed to travel/ take off etc etc...

So, out of the blue, after years and years of everything working, suddenly emails flowing thru spam filtering service hosted on Softlayer Cloud, totally blocked any / all emails from Cuba from coming thru... We just spent last 10 days tracking everything down ....


Happy Friday to everyone !

Faisal Imtiaz
Snappy Internet & Telecom

That's a terrible mess, and vividly illustrates how such poor compliance
decision-making clobbers a policy that the U.S. is attempting to promote
(both Internet and flights). Protecting Internet access in sanctioned
countries has been a longtime advocacy project of mine, and something that
from a legal perspective there has been pretty considerable success on.
These sorts of case studies are helpful, so please feel free to drop a note
if such issues arise in the future.


(disclaimer: I'm Cuban national, living in Cuba, and a long time lurker in
this great list)

Considering the fact that such a block was just put in place about a week
ago ?
Last time I checked, blocking any part of the world is not part of any
legal requirements on any Global Service Provider ? other than a 'company
policy' ?

Being denied access to services, as a Cuban national, is something that
we've all experienced here and we (sadly) have come to accept it as a fact
of life. Sometimes we resort to proxies/VPNs in order to conceal our origin
-- and by a similar token, sometimes, our destination ;).

However, there are a couple of things that have made me wondering how
arbitrary decisions can be. I think sometimes it just boils down to
specific provider policies that try to (maybe rightfully) cover their
bottoms in the light of the law. For instance, I can't hide the fact that I
have access to Gmail; but at the same time there are many Google properties
and services than I can't. There are many companies, global companies, that
I can't access, and others are open to us which are, paradoxically,
completely based on the US and under US law (won't name them publicly to
avoid potential damage).

Any way, I'm going back to lurk mode. However, feel free to ask anything,
on- of offlist. And I thank you all for this wonderful resource.

Ola Carlos,

I am very familiar with Govt. instituted restrictions, and yes, people always find ways to get around it. I cannot speak for the Cuban Gov. nor for the US Gov. as to what they decide to do and when.

What was/is irksome about Softlayer's decision is the following:-

1) Unilateral implementation of a restricted policy without any notification.

2) The broad stroke implementation of a Gov Policy that does not apply to the communication service they applied the policy to.

i.e. As much as we all dislike Dictatorial Behavior, and we fully recognize Softlayer is a Private Entity, who can exercise it's right to act Dictatorially, Such behavior in the overall community (Internet) is frowned upon and (as it should) have a long term negative affect to business.


Faisal Imtiaz
Snappy Internet & Telecom
7266 SW 48 Street
Miami, FL 33155
Tel: 305 663 5518 x 232

Help-desk: (305)663-5518 Option 2 or Email:

Official statement here:



But this just exasperates their Stupidity and in-correct assumption that somehow allowing internet communications is equal to doing business with these countries.

They need to get better legal advisers, may be people who can think and actually understand what is the internet... so that they know the difference....

(in their own words) The United States prohibits most commercial transactions........ Tcp/IP connections are NOT COMMERCIAL TRANSACTIONS !!!

So what are we going to see from them next .. A Posted Policy at the Entrance to the DataCenter " Due to US Economic Sanctions.. We will not allow entry to people who speak Spanish (Cuba),Farsi (Iran), Korean, and Arabic (Sudan) but if you are Sudanese and speak Dinka, you will be allowed"


Faisal Imtiaz
Snappy Internet & Telecom

Cc: nanog list <>
Subject: Re: Softlayer / Blocking Cuba IP's ?

I had a couple of VM's (personal mail/web hosting) with a provider who used Softlayer for transit. About a month ago Softlayer (without any notice or warning) blocked all outgoing port 25 at multipole datacentres for this provider. It took the hosting provider half a day to work out what had happened. Needless to say as much as I liked the company I had to move my hosts elsewhere (they did refund me to their credit). It seems that someone at Softlayer is extremely aggressive on their blocking policies to the point of making their service unusable. I would highly recommend the community votes with its wallet when it comes to these turkeys.

The announcement supposedly came out sometime late last year.
"We offer a trusted third party email relay service from SendGrid for
those customers who need to be able to send outbound email from their
domains or applications."

It seems some indirect customers were not informed of it until it went
into effect on Feb 1, 2016. For me the monitoring service on port 25
stopped working.

Yep, see here

No prefix responds.


They have not blocked port 25 on their "legacy" EU Servers.

Why Crimea still not in the list?


I have other question.

Why somebody exists in this list?

Nobody should be in this block list actually. If you ban some country
because this country is bad (so really? One countries are worse than
other, really? Who care in this evaluations? Some yet another "smart"

If you ask for block somebody you are becoming the worst person on
the Whole Earth. This songs really like Internet Nazism.

Just imagine world where you should drop all packets from martians
because your government thinks they are stupid. Songs like Orwell
1984. Not so perfect way.

From my point if view nobody should block North Korea, Cuba or

definitely Crimea because Internet is not is the politic game field.
It's way to communicate. Both bad and good people could use it and
nobody should care about "who can".