Google: Bulletproof Hosting Provider

Today's post is from Laura Atkins of Word to the Wise. She relates a frustration that I personally share: Google's seeming lack of caring about abuse emanating from their own networks and services. She writes:

Are you a spammer or a potential spammer? Do you want bullet proof hosting that allows you to send out all the spam you want? Do you not want to have to deal with upstream abuse desks asking you annoying questions about when a complainant opted-in? Do you not want to have to even comply with CAN SPAM?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, you should do what one Spanish speaking spammer has done and set up all your services through Google. SeƱor spammer has a Gmail address and a Google group. Three or four times a day I get two emails from said Google group advertising real estate.

Google, of course, doesn’t care. Complaints to abuse@google.com and abuse@gmail.com are totally ignored. Complaints to abuse@googlegroups.com are bounced with “user unknown.”

I brought this up on a private mailing list where some former and current Google employees participate. A past employee confirmed my suspicion that Google cares nothing about abuse or spam and doesn’t have an actual working abuse desk.

A current employee told me that I should just unsubscribe, or log into Google and report the group as spam, but do NOT email him directly about it. There is no link to “report as spam” for this group and, when I tried to unsubscribe, I was directed to log into Google in order to confirm my unsubscription.

So there you have it. The way to spam in a completely protected way is to set yourself up on Google. They don’t have an abuse desk, they don’t have any policy enforcement and they don’t even let your victims unsubscribe.

3 comments:

  1. Oh snap, Google.

    I wonder what will happen when SpamHaus gets pissed about this. Where is Steve's all-watching eye when you need it?

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  2. Seems weird for Google to not give more attention to this. I know they will lockout a Google Apps account if it's reported as spamming. Why not their other services?

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  3. This has been a problem with Google since they first offered Usenet access via Google Groups, back in 2001. I've had unofficial discussions with several technical people connected to them, and I'm told that Google is only interested in anti-abuse measures that can be automated.
    So much for "don't be evil", eh?
    Now, as a former sysadmin who spent many years dealing with net-abuse issues for my employers or clients, I can sympathise, because know what an expensive time-sink it is to deal with individual complaints, but that's no excuse for ignoring your ethical (& legal!) obligations.

    I think a partial solution is to treat Google they same way as you'd treat any other unrepentant spammer: Report them to SpamCop, etc, & get their mail servers black-listed. Given their size, it might be worth escalating complaints to their RR's. Maybe if they start losing IP blocks, they'll clean up their act?

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