First Amendment Restrictions on DNSBLs

Yesterday on Twitter, somebody asked about how DNSBLs are restricted by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Apparently there's some advocacy group somewhere who is upset that they're listed on a blacklist, and they seem to be investigating potential opportunities for legal recourse.

How to avoid getting swindled on your email lists

Yeah, you could do everything Sallie Severns recommends, or you could do this instead: Don't buy lists. There's a simple reason why: Buying lists and getting solid inbox delivery are entirely incompatible. Period. End of story.

(And a tip of the hat to John Caldwell, Chad White, and Scott Cohen. I wouldn't have seen this article if they hadn't taken a moment to point and laugh at it.)

Update: Check out the comments-- the author holds up Datran Media and Hydra Media as examples of whom to work with.

Update #2: History has been revised: The post has been taken down. Apparently, we were never at war with Eurasia. My bad.

The view from a blacklist operator

Steve Atkins from Word to the Wise explains why it's so important to make sure you're querying a blacklist correctly. Get it wrong, you end up blocking no spam at all, or worse, you end up blocking all of your inbound mail accidentally.

Spam filter authors -- it's time for your software to start rejecting DNSBLs that don't have a properly formatted test record, confirming that they're alive and that the filter in question is properly configured.

Spamhaus Case: e360 Award Slashed to $27k

Venkat Balasubramani has the story over on Circle ID. Once upon a time, e360 was able to convince a judge that $11 million was accurately reflective of their actual losses. Spamhaus challenged, and David Lindhardt apparently wasn't up to that challenge, being slow to respond to discovery requests, providing wildly varying figured, etc. At the end of the day, the judge gave up and called e360's figures "unreliable." They claimed  many millions in damages, yet the company only seemed to take in $332,000. The pie was apparently a bit smaller than claimed, and when the judge sliced that pie, it sounds like he decided that e360 only deserved a twenty seven thousand dollar slice.

As Venkat puts it, $27,002 final judgment "doesn't sound like a particularly good outcome for the plaintiff." D'oh.

NY AG Taking Legal Action Against, famously called "The World's Most Annoying Website" by Time Magazine, seems to be in trouble again. Tagged previously settled with the San Francisco District Attorney's office for $650,000 over allegations of email-related "deceptive practices." And's CEO Greg Tseng was a co-founder and CEO of Jumpstart Technologies, the company with the dubious distinction of having paid the largest CAN-SPAM settlement ever, from what I can tell.

This time around, the trouble relates to child pornography. The office of the Attorney General of the State of New York alleges that " repeatedly looks the other way when sexually explicit material is sent to its underage users." Ouch. But wait, there's more. "After receiving a consumer complaint that Tagged was non-responsive to user alerts about graphic images of children being sexually abused, sexual solicitation of minors by adults, and pedophilia, Cuomo’s investigators created undercover accounts and made over 100 reports about 80 users regarding inappropriate sexual content and contact. The undercover accounts were then used to report this content and contact to Tagged using the mechanisms described on the company’s Web site. Despite these alerts, the vast majority of the reported users still have active Tagged accounts and most of the reported content remains on the Web site. In sum, of 80 users that were reported to Tagged by undercover investigators for various misdeeds, 51 users still have active accounts." Click here to read the full press release.

Does CAN-SPAM Cover Affiliate Spam?

Over on his blog, John Levine expertly dissects what went wrong in ASIS vs. Azoogle, an anti-spam lawsuit where, yet again, a judge doesn't find for the plaintiff. At the heart of the matter? Three issues; a sloppy plaintiff, a judge who believes (or was led to believe) things about email that might be at a right angle to reality, and that damn Gordon vs. Virtumundo ruling, which just won't die. Read all about it here.