TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Getting Serious About the War on Spam

Re: Getting Serious About the War on Spam
21 Apr 2005 12:08:15 -0700

Robert Bonomi wrote:

> When you figure out what the Internet is, you'll understand the answer
> to that question.

> The Internet is a _voluntary_ co-operative effort of *private* network
> operators. *nobody* 'owns' it. *nobody* 'controls' it. Everybody
> makes _their_own_rules_ for *THEIR*OWN* network.

Not true. There IS an 'owner' and there ARE people who 'control' it.
The 'owner' assigns addresses and issues the communication rules.
These rules that control how the networks interface with other -- how
messages are addressed and delimited and so on. People don't simply
shoot off a stream of bytes into the air -- those bytes must be
formatted to a defined layout in order to get to their intended

> If 'officialdom' can proscribe sending one kind of message, they can
> proscribe sending _any_other_ kind of message.

As mentioned in other posts, communication is ALREADY proscribed
in various ways.

> Yeah. So? If you're not prepared to deal with the risks, "don't play
> in the street." applies.

> If the benefits for you don't outweigh the risks then
> *UNPLUG*THE*COMPUTER*. Problem _solved_.

That's a condescending and inappropriate attitude.

If someone is harassing me by telephone, your attitude is that I
should disconnect my phone. However, public policy doesn't agree.
Rather, they go after the offender. There are both laws and
technology to protect the subscriber. The Internet is becomming a
public utility and as such should include protections other public
utilities have to protect end consumers.

>> If we can put a man on the moon using 1950 based computer technology,
>> we can make the Internet safe.

> Bullshit. Sorry, but its a fact, nonetheless.. We can't even make the
> _streets_ safe, and we've been trying to do that for what, 80+ year.
> something like 50,000+ people/year are killed in auto accidents in the
> U.S. alone.

The reality is that while streets are not 100% safe, there are
ongoing continuous improvements. Roads are much safer than years
ago, and the RATE of fatalities continues to radically decline.

As mentioned in other posts, the experience of business has resulted
in various laws to regulate business activity so people have a high
degree of confidence.

But in contrast, it seems that nothing is being done to improve
Internet integrity. The 'movers and shakers' seem as stubborn as the
car-makers were to install safety devices.

> Because, for starters, there is no 'universal agreement' on what
> constitutes "malicious behavior".

As others mentioned it's not that hard to come up with a consensus.
Or the govt should do it, as it has for other venues.

> There's a "real world" difficulty with this, however. When there is
> "more than one" registrar (as _is_ the case, today) then anybody who
> _does_ write more restrictive terms into their contract is at a
> "competitive disadvantage" to those who have only the 'required
> minimums' in _their_ contract.

Then we need laws passed by the govt to mandate this; just as
the govt mandates proper behavior in other forms of commerce
and communication. All autos sold in the US must contain
mandated safety and emission standards.

>> Again -- change the contracts!

> The word for that is "impossible". The existing contracts are
> *self-renewing* _at_the_same_terms_ (although in the case of one TLD,
> with an escalating fee schedule), as long as both parties fulfil their
> required acts. This is _expressly_ stated in the contracts.

Self-renewing contracts only renew automatically with the consent of
both parties. Further, govt law may override or enhance contract
provisions. (Contracts that call for racial discrimination, for
example, are not enforceable and obviously renewable contracts need an
exit clause.)

>> Sounds like there's a lot that could be done.

> If you ignore the realities of contract law, the difficulties of
> cross-border enforcement, and some other basic facts of life,

Seems to me the technocrats are ignoring the realities of how the rest
of the business and social fabric of the country operates. (See the
other post about Russia.)

> _Life_ is dangerous. "Mortality rate: 100%"

Strawman. Irrelevent.

> Nobody _requires_ you to use the Internet.

Nobody "requires" me to participate in a lot of things, like credit
cards, a phone, a govt-issued ID card, having a driver's license and
owning a registered car. However, not participating makes life
awfully tough. Many businesses and govt agencies make it effectively
difficult or impossible to do business with them except via the

> Yeah, it'd be "nice" if the various defenses were not necessary. But,
> in the 'real world' they _are_. Just like locks on your doors.

Yes, we have locks on our doors. But we do not roll over and blandly
accept the problems that make us put locks on our doors -- we fight
back. Admittedly with various degrees of success and with
controversy, but we do fight back. In NYC, nobody thought they could
reduce crime and quality of life issues -- city life got really lousy
in the 1970s -- but they managed to successfully fight back and
improve things. You're simply shrugging your shoulders and saying
"nothing can be done, so go lock your doors".

Sorry, but that answer is not good enough.

A lot of arrogant business people faced public scorn because of
problems in their industries. They had a choice of cleaning it
up themselves, or having the govt step in and clean it up for
them. If Internet activists are worried about govt intervention
(as responses here seem to indicate), they better clean up the
problems on their own or it will be imposed upon them.

> Using the Internet is a _voluntary_ thing ...

No longer true, as many companies and govt agencies have made it the
primary information and communication source, and made more
traditional sources (ie telephone and walk-in) unavailable.

> What they [MCI] _are_ excoriated for --
> and *DESERVEDLY*SO* -- is continuing to provide *other* services -- be
> it web-server, _incoming_ mail, etc. -- to parties which are
> well-known for spamming. It's "the abuse didn't come _through_ *our*
> network, so we don't care" mind-set.

So, what is being done about this?

TELECOM Digest Editor noted:

> ... and as though it is impossible for ICANN (which is
> in fact the overall controller around here) to write new contracts
> since Robert does not understand what the term 'malicious' means in
> everyday language that everyone else with a lick of sense understands.
> And he insists that it is impossible for ICANN to build into new
> contracts such simple, humble concepts as 'no phishing, no spamming,
> no falsification of network addresses' because the contracts out there
> now are renewable in perpetuity, or until the savior comes again,
> whichever happens first.

Excellent points.

> So Lisa Hancock, I guess Robert has really explained quite well where
> we stand.

Sadly, the responders here seem to demonstrate much techno-arrogance.
This isn't anything new from the technocrats. I remember years ago
how the systems programmers who had great power would demand things be
done in a certain way only because they said so, not because the
system itself mandated it. Application programmers could be the same
way toward end-users. Remember the "do not fold/mutilate/spindle"
backlash protests of the 1960s when people purposely did just that out
of frustration with computers?

> All I know is, I should receive hazardous duty pay for dealing with
> all this shit day after day. PAT]

Other moderators feel the same way.

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