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

Re: Getting Serious About the War on Spam
22 Apr 2005 07:04:09 -0700

> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: But isn't also a good idea to auto-ack
> the alleged senders of the spam mail since if a person gets enough
> of those they may be moved to clean out the zombies in their own
> computer (if they have any, or if they don't) become angry enough to
> join in the fight in a big time way? That is why I am seriously
> thinking about changing my auto-ack to say 'thank you for writing me
> and if you didn't write to me then welcome to the club'. PAT]

But, as Robert and I have pointed out, if the destination SMTP server
flatly refuses the SMTP connection, then it's the job of the SENDING
server, NOT the destination server, to decide what kind of message to
return to the sender.

If the sending server is a legitimate server, delivering legitimate
mail, that somehow got itself onto a blacklist, then it will probably
return a failure notice to the (alleged) sender.

If the sending server is an open relay because the admin doesn't know
any better, and it's relaying spam that came from somewhere else with
forged return addresses, it will probably return a failure notice to
the SMTP From address, which probably does not belong to the sender,
but that's not my problem.

If the sending server is a zombie on a hacked Windows box belonging to
some clueless broadband customer whose machine is spewing spam without
his knowledge (which is quite common), sending a jillion failure
notices to the machine owner would be a good idea, because people who
allow their machines to spew spam, even unintentionally, deserve the
consequences. And notifying him that his machine needs cleaning up
would be good for him and the rest of the world. But it's highly
unlikely that the SMTP return address on those spam messages actually
is the real address of the owner of that machine. Sending a jillion
failure notices to some innocent uninvolved individual is not a good
way to convince people that the net needs cleaning up. It would be
like throwing a rock through your neighbor's window to convince him
crime is a problem. OK .. maybe that's stretching the analogy, since
the rock-throwing would be clearly illegal, and returning failure
notices to someone who didn't really send spam is technically legal, if
the spam had his return address on it. But since you know that it's
highly probable that the return address belongs to someone whose
address was stolen, through no fault of his own, flooding him with spam
rejection notices just to say "See how bad spam is? You should do
something about it" is really bordering on harrassment.

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: So what are you saying, that I should
cease my auto-ack which is intended to serve legitimate users in order
to avoid possibly getting sued for harrassment by someone who gets a
million auto-acks from me that some third person caused to be
generated? That's bull ... anyway, I am essentially judgment-proof
unless you can find some way to attach my social security disability
checks. I have no other money to speak of. I do not intend to let
good, legitimate, often times new users just hang waiting. Anyway, I
get auto acks here all the time also, from spammers who have signed me
up for every mailing list known to mankind. PAT]

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