Blocking Spammed Sites: Good Idea, Paternalism Or Censorship?

from the depends-on-how-you-look-at-it dept

In every debate about stopping spam, someone suggests that it’s more important to go after the sites that are advertised in spam, rather than the spammers themselves. Well, now it looks like AOL is doing exactly that. They’re blocking access to spamvertised sites. The reactions from different people are interesting, ranging from considering it a good idea to paternalism to censorship. It’s clearly not censorship – as it’s not as if users don’t have other choices of service providers. It certainly is a bit paternalistic, but if that’s what users want, then paternalism might not be so bad. Of course, to support that, though, it would make a lot more sense to make this optional. Why force it on everyone? Why not let the users choose an option to either turn on or turn off “spamvertised site block”. The reason they won’t do this, of course, is that the people who would actually care are probably the people who are going to spamvertised sites. The biggest problem I see about this, though, is that it just gives spammers incentive to spare a few million of their daily emails to linking to sites they don’t like – just to get them blocked from AOL visitors. Watch how long it takes for spammers to bombard AOL with links to sites like Spamhaus – just to get it blocked. This also brings up a legal question. Will AOL get sued for falsely blocking a “spammed” site when the site is not involved in spamming?

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Comments on “Blocking Spammed Sites: Good Idea, Paternalism Or Censorship?”

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thecaptain says:

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This could be a good idea, *IF* done correctly (which you know it won’t). I mean, spam sites are usually fairly easy to spot when you visit them.

However, whats likely to happen is ISPs blocking sites willynilly at the first complaint or spam campaign spotted, without bothering to check, which will open up a whole new way to DOS legitimate websites.

Michael Vilain says:

SPAMCOP has the same complaints about their block

Mostly, these complaints come from people who don’t know how the block list works. A person is trying to send email from their email account and don’t know what someone on the same system is sending spam. If it’s reported to SPAMCOP, that server’s IP address is added to the SPAMCOP publically available block list for 48 hours. If that unsuspecting user sends email to any system that uses the block list, thier email will bounce with a message explaining the block list. If the spam continues and is reported, the IP address could be blocked for some time. “Black hat” ISPs like Verio do very little to get rid of spammers.

This really frosts some people’s flakes. They don’t have to use the same ISP as a spammer. People don’t have to use AOL. I hear lots are leaving (images of rats scurring over ropes tied to a ship). AOL is not the internet.

I used to get pissed off at the dictatorial stuff that Prodigy used to do on it’s discussion forums. Whatever happened to them?

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