Verizon v. Ralsky and Additional Benefits LCC
August 4, 2002 11:47 AM   Subscribe

Verizon v. Ralsky and Additional Benefits LCC Verizon is suing Alan Ralsky in Federal court for sending enough spam -- more than 56 gigabytes -- to "virtually paralyze" their e-mail servers on at least two occaisions. The trial begins Sept. 23. Ralsky's response: "These (anti-spammers) feel we've infringed on their personal space. They want to own the Internet." Ralsky and his lawyer claim that he is picked on because he is open about what he does, yet Ralsky denied it to Brian Livingston last year. More about Ralsky.

Some good anti-spam information sources and tools include Spam Laws, CAUCE, SpamCop, and Spamcon.
posted by pmurray63 (11 comments total)
While we are talking about spam tools, lets not forget SpamAssassin, which now even has a (commercial) plug-in for Outlook! Yes, Outlook Outlook Express.
posted by pberry at 12:06 PM on August 4, 2002

I've been using spamnet since it was discussed on this mefi thread a few weeks ago. I have it check 4 of my email accounts and most of the spam gets caught.

I get a few false positives for opt-in commercial email lists I'm on (notably Vindigo and Amazon). But none of the mail I *really* wanted to receive are identified as spam.

And like every other "free" product I use, I'm leery of how they plan on making any money.
posted by birdherder at 2:35 PM on August 4, 2002

I think there are only two groups of people who can make money because of spam: those that charge others for sending it (or for lists of e-mails) and those that charge others to block it (or at least, to try to block it).

This is why spam is such an insidious problem. Like pyramid schemes or late-night infomercials, there's always someone new out there who'll buy into it -- hoping against hope that they can get rich quick or make an extra $500-2500 per week working from home. The fact that there are thousands of people out there all trying to peddle the same products means that even if those e-mails got a decent response rate (which is debatable), why would any one individual's pitch get more responses that the hundreds of others out there?

What also bristles is the free speech argument. While I would agree that companies and individuals should be allowed to promote their products (and even to try to pitch them to me directly), there must be reasonable limitations. If someone knocks on your door trying to sell you something, they have the right to do so (discussed, somewhat in another thread); if they knock on your door 25 times a day, every day, trying to sell you the same thing, it has moved beyond a free speech issue into the realm of harrassment.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to reply to a very nice gentleman from Nigeria who has made me a potentially lucrative proposition...
posted by filmgoerjuan at 3:09 PM on August 4, 2002

The simple argument is that advertising costs me money. Either in bandwidth, or disk storage, or the same costs deferred to your ISP. Most spam, by that score, is theft -- theft of services whose costs are borne by the consumer.

And there is a very long history of treating commercial speech separately from the political speech that is almost wholly protected from government intervention. I don't notice the government's involvement in this lawsuit, though.
posted by dhartung at 3:33 PM on August 4, 2002

For once I find myself on the side of the death penalty.
posted by Neale at 8:06 PM on August 4, 2002

Companies want their unsolicited email? Force them to a .spam name, or something to that effect.

On the other hand, I personally feel that exploiting the need/desire to block spam via software is a bit silly. It's just as silly as Caller ID.

Companies making telephone calls to residences usually unlist their number, defeating one of the key purposes behind Caller ID. Then the telephone company then sells "Unknown Number" call blocking as a "service" to customers, providing two revenue streams. It's bullshit.

What's worse is that the FCC has jurisdiction over telephones and could very easily apply some tougher rules to snuff out telemarketing. Perhaps, branding them with a "Commercial" tag through Caller ID... but no.

I think I had a point somewhere along the line, but I forget what, exactly :(
posted by cinematique at 8:23 PM on August 4, 2002

I love you guys
posted by spidre at 9:21 PM on August 4, 2002

My take on this is that the more spam which is stopped from getting through, the more effective is the spam which actually manages to get through. Spam Filters are the spammers best friend. Personally, I'm for ensuring that every politician or policy maker that has an email address has that email address sold to the spammers. The only solution to this is either a complete change to the email system, or some sort of legal framework.

On Anti-Spammed email, I use Fastmail. It costs, but it seems to work, and you don't need a degree to work it out. (Plus - it's an offline solution, which is good for my narrowband connection)
posted by seanyboy at 4:51 AM on August 5, 2002

Another great solution to look at, and yes they charge for the service, is MailShell. Especially great if they host the domain for you. In my experience, I'd say their claim of 99% blocking is true.
posted by dhacker at 6:11 AM on August 5, 2002

I recently upgraded my nameservers (I'm a web designer and I host my own domains and those of my clients) and SpamAssassin came pre-loaded on them. I decided to give it a try and now I wouldn't dream of doing without it!

I average anywhere from 25-50 spam emails a day, but because many of them come to my business accounts, I used to have to spend a lot of time double-checking to make sure that I didn't accidentally delete a message from a potential customer (especially since not all of them are bright enough to actually put something in the subject header). SpamAssassin easily manages to catch 95% to 98% of the spam that I have coming in; and although I do get a few "false positives" it is either because it is from some business marketing mailing lists I am on, or a Yahoo mailing list, because they tag adverts on the bottom of the daily digests, and I've learnt to keep an eye for those.

Otherwise, it has been an amazing time-saver for me and I would highly recommend it for others who receive too much spam. Check with your local ISP, many of them have SpamAssassin or similar programs on some of their mail servers, but don't openly advertise it -- but if you ask them, they will often switch your incoming mailbox over to a SpamAssassin filtered server for little or no cost. It's worth making the phone call or drop your ISP's tech support a quick email to ask if they have it loaded...
posted by Jade Dragon at 9:32 AM on August 5, 2002

Neale: "For once I find myself on the side of the death penalty."

Amen to that!
posted by ZachsMind at 9:42 AM on August 5, 2002

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