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Lawyers enter fray in spam blacklisting dispute

Spews.org makes Island Networks sick

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Island Networks, the Channel Islands domain manager, is threatening anti-spam blacklisting service Spews.org with legal action following the blacklisting of its IP address.

Spews.org blacklisted the block of domains 216.110.45.0 to 216.110.51.255 last month due to the activities of a group known as spammingbureau.com. Island Networks, which has no affiliation to spammingbureau.com and has a "strict anti-spam policy", uses IP address 216.110.45.73.

That's among the block of IP addresses targeted by Spews.org. Island Networks claims the blacklisting has hurt its business.

Through its lawyers, DL Legal, Island Network gave Spews.org until January 24 to remove the block or face further legal action. Its letter (posted here on news.admin.net-abuse.email) spells out the effects Spews.org's action have had on its business.

"The listing of the block (i.e. all 1536 addresses) rather than the offending IP addresses causes our client direct economic and commercial loss. Your listing means that our client's mail will be wrongfully bounced by ISPs using your service," writes Nick Lockett, a partner at DL Legal.

Linking Island Networks with spammingbureau.com in the blacklisting is defamatory, Lockett further argues. Neither Lockett not Island Networks returned our request for comment on the dispute.

Resorting to law over spam blacklisting is an unusual, though in the fractious world of anti-spam, not unprecedented move.

In this case it seems to have achieved to desired effect.

Island Networks is no longer blacklisted by Spews.org.

The threat of legal action against Spews.org has prompted a vigorous debate on the news.admin.net-abuse.email, with people weighing in on both sides of the argument (which is not for the faint hearted),

Spews.org is described as a vigilante and, in more reasoned postings, criticised for its blanket approach to blacklisting and difficulties in communicating with its volunteers.

Most people posting to the newsgroup, however, defend Spews.org and describe many of the organisations that complain against the blacklisting service as "Cartooneys" who fail to play their part in dealing with the spam tsunami.

Organisations choose to use Spews.org of their own volition, many also point out. ®

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