E360 Shaking Down the Spamhaus? - What Does This Mean?
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If these were two simple companies with a disagreement, that would be one thing. But these aren't simple companies, and their dispute raises all sorts of issues relating to Internet laws and usage. You see, in the U.S. we have the CAN-SPAM act, which actually allows spammers to send their messages as long as they comply with certain rules. In the UK, however, spamming is completely illegal - so it is entirely possible (though unlikely, to judge from what I've heard about the email marketer) that e360 is operating legally in the U.S. but still committing acts that would be considered criminal in the UK.
This also raises the delicate issue of ICANN's position. Far too much of the Internet community has already been complaining (justified or not) that ICANN is too opaque of an organization and far too U.S.-centric. If ICANN is forced to act in a way that the rest of the world sees as unfair, the repercussions will not be pretty. "Such a decision, if seen as unfair outside the U.S., could trigger a sort of constitutional crisis for the Net," notes Edward Felten, professor of computer science and public affairs at Princeton University, in his blog.
Does it make sense for Spamhaus to stand firm with its new strategy in the case? Steve Linford, Spamhaus founder, told OUT-LAW Radio that "Because we get this from all over the world we don't defend ourselves in foreign courts. We tell them 'if you want to sue us come to Britain.' None of them ever has because Britain has 'loser pays.'" But none of those other countries have an organization like ICANN within it borders. Some commentators have said that Spamhaus is wrong to "thumb its nose at the U.S. court system" (Stan Beer from ITWire).
Spamhaus should fight e360 in court with the truth, because if the email marketer wins the case, even by default, it could set a very bad precedent. Indeed, Spamhaus has said on its website that it will appeal the verdict. And Spamhaus will probably have plenty of evidence to justify e360's inclusion on the ROKSO list. Richard Cox, CIO of Spamhaus, notes that, as a result of the case, the company has been "inundated with mail" from people who have been spammed by e360. These people have been sending evidence of e360's emails; they have also been sending Spamhaus formal statements that they didn't sign up for the mail. Spamhaus has had to set up a special team to handle the traffic.
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