Techdirt

by Mike Masnick




Techdirt Supports Everyone's Right Not To Be Bothered

from the oh,-what-fun dept

I just listened to a series of voicemail messages that were left for me, threatening Techdirt with a lawsuit, in response to an article we posted earlier this week. The post was about an article in the NY Times about "spammers". The complaints seemed to be twofold: (1) that I did not understand the original NY Times article and (2) that I was responsible for "private info" being posted to the site. I'm not sure what is illegal about misunderstanding an article. Since we allow anyone to comment on any post anonymously, someone decided to post here the private contact information of some of the people (they refer to themselves as email marketers) discussed in the article. I did not post that info, nor have anything to do with it being posted. Someone (and there are thousands of people who read Techdirt every day, so I couldn't even hazard a guess who did it) decided to do that on their own. As a provider of an open forum, I don't believe we're responsible for the comments. However, while we, at Techdirt, find it ironic that people who make their living sending information to people they haven't requested it get bothered when the same thing is done to them, we do respect every individual's right to privacy and not to be bugged if they prefer not to be. For that reason (and that reason alone), we have removed the private info from those posts. While we absolutely prefer not to do this, we do reserve the right to remove comments that we feel are damaging to any individual or their rights. Because we also believe that it is best to be open about such practices, we have decided to post this explanation for why we have edited those particular comments.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Apr 2003 @ 8:35pm

    No Subject Given

    those jerks

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 2003 @ 5:42pm

      Lets spam list the spammers

      Here's an idea folks. Let's find a nice cooperative e-mail server, and send out a spam mailing to EVERYONE.
      The difference is, let's put in the NAMES and ADDRESSES of KNOWN SPAMMERS. Tell whoever reads this spam (if anyone does) that they should sign each and every spammer up for some 'free' catalogs and other snail-mail junk mail.
      Let the spammers sue; assuming they can find who wrote that killer spam message.
      Live by the spam, die by the spam.
      Heh-heh-heh.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    LittleW0lf, 24 Apr 2003 @ 9:00pm

    A sad day on techdirt....

    I screwed up not too long ago, and forgot to "obscure" my email address to prevent the onslaught of SPAM. Within a few hours, my email address suffered a drastic increase (I normally get around 20-40 emails a day, over the course of 1 week I've received over 1,000 unsolicited emails, including about 4 sets of 100 emails all from the same person sending unsolicited emails.)

    With SPAM Assassin, (I know, Mike doesn't like filters,) about 80% of them were automatically rejected, and the rest somehow slipped below my radar. Needless to say, I have no interest in antivirus software (as I don't use Winblows,) and Porn is of little interest (I spend most of my time "hacking", that leaves very little time left for much of anything else,) my home is well financed, and as much as I would like a wife (see above,) I am not interested in any wife who would introduce herself to me via an unsolicited email (read SCAM.)

    The fact that these a$$ holes can freely interrupt my life (though I assure you, they don't, as most of them end up in the trash without me even reading them,) making themselves "rich" off of my internet services, with no regard for my privacy or my costs of operation (yes, every email I receive potentially costs me real money,) but then can get upset and threaten lawsuits when their information is exposed to me to use against them (like they use my information against me,) disgusts and infuriates me.

    What lawsuit they can hope to level against Techdirt is beyond me, as nothing illegal occurred, but obviously Mike is playing it safe (I would not have.) Then again, I am not a lawyer, and in this day and age, even if I was I wouldn't venture to guess how a judge would rule on this.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike (profile), 24 Apr 2003 @ 11:25pm

      Re: A sad day on techdirt....

      Please note: we did not remove this info due to the threat of the lawsuit, but simply because we think spam, of any nature is bad. Even if it's against those who practice it on others. I, also, am not sure what sort of lawsuit they could level against us. We did not do this to "play it safe" - because I don't believe there's a real threat. We did this (after some internal discussion on the matter) because we thought it would set a good example.

      Also, I have nothing against spam filters. I use one myself.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Dmitry, 25 Apr 2003 @ 5:57am

        Re: A sad day on techdirt....

        Mike,
        I hope they dont actully file a lawsuit against you guys. Id hate to see your money and time wasted on defanding yourself from something stupid.
        Good luck, and great site. Have been coming here for years and your comments are always great.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Oliver Wendell Jones, 25 Apr 2003 @ 8:13am

          Re: A sad day on techdirt....

          And the added benefit of them not actually suing is that you can charge them with barristry (sp?) which is a crime.

          Be sure to track all the time you spent thinking about removing their posts, discussing removing their posts, actually removing their posts and writing articles describing why you removed their posts. That way you can sue them for compensation for time wasted.

          It's a great way to handle sue-happy people who's response to any situation is "why... you.... you... I'll sue you!"

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Faisal N. Jawdat, 25 Apr 2003 @ 10:52am

        Re: A sad day on techdirt....

        It's funny that they'd threaten you for posting private information when everything posted was publicly available. The company phone numbers are on their web site, the other contact information is in the whois record and online phone directories (I checked when the info was posted; it took all of two minutes to find everything).

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        bbay, 25 Apr 2003 @ 1:06pm

        Re: A sad day on techdirt....

        Mike, Mike, Mike...

        Did you give any thought to the consequences of your actions?

        If we all just went around being kind to people, even if they're jerks, and refusing to become enraged at the slightest insult, and supporting people's rights, even when they don't support ours, it would spell the end of the Internet as we know it.

        Think man, think.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Pass, 28 Apr 2003 @ 9:32am

        Re: A sad day on techdirt....

        Your logic, that even spammers don't deserve to get spammed, would lead me to believe that you would let someone shoot you, instead of fighting back, because even murderers don't deserve to be murdered.

        For myself, I feel that if they don't want me to shoot at them, they shouldn't shoot at me. If spammers didn't push their crap onto so many people, their wouldn't be so many wanting to get revenge.

        I believe you were scared of their cartooney threat, and so removed the info.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 2003 @ 12:00pm

          Re: A sad day on techdirt....

          No, no, you all miss the point. If you wish to take the moral high ground, you can't afford to stoop to the same level as them.
          If someone starts shooting at you, you call the police and get them arrested and locked up. All we need now are some laws enabling us to do the same thing to spammers.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 2003 @ 6:08pm

            Re: A sad day on techdirt....

            Do you live in a place that locks people up for defending themselves? Innocent people die by following your example.

            "Please mister gunsel. Please wait while I ring the police."

            (boop beep beep)
            (riiiiiiiing)
            (BANG BANG)
            (THUD)

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Kevin Heller, 24 Apr 2003 @ 9:18pm

    What Private Info?

    In fact a judge has thrown out a spammer's demand to have his business address and phone number (which are also his home address and phone number) removed from the Web. Ruling Backs Anti-Spam Activist [WaPo] [via Boing Boing]

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    mhh5, 24 Apr 2003 @ 10:43pm

    heh...

    I wonder how many people would bother to spam a spammer anyways...

    And, ahem, if anyone *really* wanted to, they could just look up the google cache version of techdirt's censored article.... (sorry, Mike, for pointing that out, but I don't think it's quite fair for a spammer to get bent out of shape when their info is made public.)

    Feel free to delete this post.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    dr_stein, 25 Apr 2003 @ 10:31am

    heh

    "Targeted, opt-in, verified addresses.."

    It's amazing how spammers whine about their "privacy" being violated yet they think that launching a dictionary attack and bombarding mail servers with spam is ok.

    What hypocrites.

    Oh, the Google cache still has the information. ;)
    What we need are laws that say "You can't sue me for stuff that's on a website, you punk ass!" to counteract these "I'll sue you because of something someone posted!"

    Actually, the NY Times posted that a judge threw out a lawsuit against spammers that had their information posted.
    HEY SPAMMERS: Don't bug me, I won't bug you. Fair enough? I think so.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Albert Ahnot, 25 Apr 2003 @ 10:38am

    It was me. If you want the addres, here's how to f

    I would like to confess, I don't know the techdirt guys, but I like their site. It was me that reposted the address and phone number which is publicly available at Switchboard.com. As for known spammer Alyxsandra Sachs, she can kiss my ass. She deserves whatever she gets. If she doesn't want to be bothered, she should stop showing up in people's email uninvited.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    J.F.Wiederspan, 25 Apr 2003 @ 2:03pm

    Spam Marketing

    Perhaps TechDirt could do an article on the top ten E-Mail marketing companies now using the internet to send unwelcome e-mails. I believe people would be interested in knowing the names of these public companies. Keep up the good work in getting the word out.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    todd, 25 Apr 2003 @ 2:41pm

    Standing firmly behind Mike

    Mike's reasoning is sound here and I don't like to hear that he has become a target for anyone's misplaced aggression.

    To the miscreat: go away and bother us no more.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    No Spam, 27 Apr 2003 @ 8:36pm

    Setting a precedent: Privacy for those who invade

    As you know, spam is based on disrespect for privacy, and the idea that whatever crap the sender wants to send, the unwilling recipient must take it and shut up.

    Publicly posting a spammer's contact information allows this road to go both ways.

    What you just did is to insulate the spammer from experiencing the sour taste of his own medicine.

    If he was a decent guy (well ... at least not a spammer), he could thank you for helping him in his spamming activities. In facts, he'll probably just laugh loudly enough to wake up the neiborhood, and celebrate his victory by sending twice as much spam today, since his hardball tactics worked.

    He not only will keep spamming, but what you did sets a precedent that he will share with other spammers so they can use it at their advantage when they will threaten other board maintainers like you and their ISP.

    Even if I understand your reasons, I really think you made the wrong decision, and I'd appreciate to see it reversed. (promise them to take it down again the day they'll take all our emails down from their spamming lists ;-)

    **********

    PS: I originally posted the first version of this msg as a reply to the deleted posts, I hope posting it here now won't be considered spam ;-)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Nick, 28 Apr 2003 @ 5:21am

    No Subject Given

    I believe that payback would certainly be amusing as has happened in the past, although as someone who reports 99% of the spam that lands in my inbox to the appropriate ISP abuse departments, I can agree with the decision to remove thier public details. If they've threatened you with legal action, perhaps you could remind them of barratry

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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