An Illinois court recently awarded twelve million dollars in damages to an email marketing firm called e360 Insight. The defendant? Spamhaus. It seems Insight’s ability to conduct their business was hampered by being listed in the Spamhaus DNSBL, rendering them unable to fill people’s inboxes with stuff they didn’t want.
At first, it seems a horribly complicated case – e360 Insight says they fully comply with “CAN-SPAM”, which was and is one of the most useless pieces of legislation ever passed in this country. Note the last three words, though – in this country. Spamhaus is based out of England, and asserts that Insight’s missives violate the law there.
Too, it must be remembered that Spamhaus doesn’t actually block any email – they provide a tool for others to block email with. One can see how this would lead to liability on their part – except that blocking email isn’t illegal. There is no law anywhere that says that a system administrator has to accept mail – or any other traffic – from anyone or anywhere he or she doesn’t wish to. It’s extraordinarily common to block internet traffic from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Koreas, and a number of other countries. Thousands of webmasters block all address space belonging to Cyveillance, and you don’t see them throwing a hissy-fit that their businesss is being hampered, do you?
The third point to keep in mind is that by imposing ridiculous penalties against an English organization well outside it’s jurisdiction, the United States once again is trying to impose it’s rule of law on the internet, and still ignoring the rights of other countries to do things in a manner different from us. It’s our way on the information superhighway, as far as America is concerned.
It’s not the way it should be, but nothing much seems to be being done about it.
You might also want to see this post about the latest developments, and how to fight back against the goons at e360 Insight.