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[P]
MAPS is now Censorware

By enterfornone in MLP
Thu Dec 14, 2000 at 10:50:21 AM EST
Tags: Freedom (all tags)
Freedom

Slashdot are running an interesting article comparing spam blocker MAPS with censorware.

Among other things, it seems MAPS are web blocking entire subnets because hosted sites allow downloading of spamming tools and are even blocking anti-censorware site Peacefire.


However what MAPS block should not be the issue. The issue is the increasing number of people who are willing to trade their essential freedoms for a small convenience. People who are willing to sacrifice their privacy in the hope that this will allow the government to keep them safe. And now people who are willing to trust an unaccountable organisation to decide what they can and cannot read.

In a world where many are willing to fight and die for these freedoms, it angers me to see so many who are quite willing to give their freedom away.

Remember, if you allow them to take away the freedoms you don't want, soon they will take away the freedoms you do.

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MAPS is now Censorware | 16 comments (5 topical, 11 editorial, 0 hidden)
This is a big problem (4.08 / 12) (#8)
by rusty on Thu Dec 14, 2000 at 01:53:32 AM EST

Ok, I was skeptical too. Jamie has a tendency to write in a somewhat energetically alarmist style-- but read the whole article. This is a big bad ball of shit, right here.

The facts, basically, are this: MAPS blocks web services for IPs that are either promoted through spam, or, apparently, sell spam-related software. Fine, great.

But they also, apparantly, will go so far as to block entire subnets worth of sites that happen to have the same /24 as a spam-blocked site.

That's what they've done here, and AboveNet, a large backbone provider, subscribes to MAPS. You may be using AboveNet and not even know it. And MAPS and AboveNet, without your consent, or even the ability for you to stop them, have now blocked you from contecting 1500 IP numbers.

If this doesn't grab you, imagine if Globix (our colo) were blocked for hosting a site that sells spam software. And your ISP's upstream provider used MAPS. You would be blocked from seeing K5. This is not implausible-- it's exactly what is happening to Peacefire and the other sites listed.

Spam is bad, mmm-kay. We all know that. But I'm with jamie here-- involuntary IP blocking is worse. MAPS (and ORBS, for that matter) are a lost cause. Their zealotry has led them to this point. They don't care who they have to block. The focus of anger here has to be large backbone providers who engage in this kind of involtary filtering. This should not be done, other than at an end-user ISP level. If any action is taken here, it should be against AboveNet, and any other backbone provider who engages in this kind of, yes, I'll say it, censorship.

____
Not the real rusty

Well, ok... (none / 0) (#16)
by trhurler on Fri Dec 15, 2000 at 01:26:03 PM EST

but then why does everyone blame MAPS, when they're just providing a list compiled according to a fixed and public set of guidelines? Granted, what the AboveNet people are doing with that list is disgusting.

The fundamental problem here is a technical one: existing IP allocation and DNS schemes are not robust enough to make large organizations accountable for their actions. A spammer can move from one network to the next to the next, and so you block one, then a different one, and so on, and you remove the old ones to avoid blocking legitimate services, and pretty soon, he's back to using those. The filter list folks can't fix that, and neither can the ISPs or the end users. However, what MAPS could do is specialize their lists, so that it was easy to pick just how much of an asshole you were willing to be in blocking spam. Personally, I'm willing to do quite a bit, but only for myself - there are no paying customers to get screwed. On the other hand, someone like AboveNet could best serve their customers by providing minimal filtering of a changing set of known spammer addresses, and by providing information on how those customers can be more aggressive in their use of the RBL if they wish to do so.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Service Guarantees (3.00 / 3) (#13)
by PresJPolk on Thu Dec 14, 2000 at 12:24:51 PM EST

Might Abovenet be violating some 99% (or whatever figure) service guarantees by blocking service as they are?

One could call this an intentional outage.

Let's not be as clueless as Slashdot about this. (5.00 / 1) (#14)
by pw201 on Fri Dec 15, 2000 at 08:32:58 AM EST

The Slashdot thread just shows that a lot of people don't understand what the RBL is and how it works.

it seems MAPS are web blocking entire subnets because hosted sites allow downloading of spamming tools and are even blocking anti-censorware site Peacefire.

MAPS are not blocking anything. MAPS have listed Media3's /24's in the RBL because of the large number of spammer sites being hosted by Media 3.

ISPs have a number of options when using MAPS, and it is the ISP which chooses which one to use, not MAPS. One of these options is to blackhole the IPs in MAPS at the router level. I don't know whether Above.net use MAPS in this way. I certainly do know that not everyone who uses MAPS uses it as a router blackhole list.

If Media 3 have not responded to complaints about spamvertised websites and spamware being sold from their sites, they should be in the RBL. That's what the RBL's policy says. The RBL people are not trigger happy (in fact people usually complain that they don't move fast enough): it's likely that this has been going on for a while. Sometimes an RBL listing is the only way to get an ISP to actually do something about their problem.

And now people who are willing to trust an unaccountable organisation to decide what they can and cannot read.

In a world where many are willing to fight and die for these freedoms, it angers me to see so many who are quite willing to give their freedom away.

The people who use the RBL are aware of the policies (or if they're not, they should be: the policies are public). They have chosen to use it (and exercised their freedom to do so) because they believe the RBL is effective in the fight against spam. MAPS is ultimately accountable to its users: if they don't use the RBL because it's gone off the rails (as ORBS arguably has), then the RBL is useless. So MAPS is not unaccountable.

Personally, I believe the political pressure applied by the RBL to ISPs who host spammers is acceptable and I would be happy to use the RBL or to use an ISP which uses it. If other folk disagree they can chose not to use the RBL.



MAPS should take some share of the responsibility (none / 0) (#15)
by squigly on Fri Dec 15, 2000 at 09:13:04 AM EST

MAPS isn't actually blocking sites. Abovenet most ceratainly is, and MAPS is helping. I wouldn't completely let them off the hook here. What they are doing is claiming that some organisations are spammers simply because they share a class C address space with some spammers. MAPS suggest that only spammers and people on spammers servers are listed. They need more accountability if we are to trust their lists.
The people who use the RBL are aware of the policies (or if they're not, they should be: the policies are public). They have chosen to use it (and exercised their freedom to do so) because they believe the RBL is effective in the fight against spam.
A lot of people don't choose to use it. Even if I want spam, and beg Media3 for it, I can't get it if any of the ISP's along the chain decides that I don't want it. If the filter is 100% accurate in spotting spam then I'm quite thankful, but I would like to know that they are providing me with this service.

Still, IMHO, what we really need is better software. More choice, and more awareness of the choice. We seem to have a choice of MAPS (nasty tendency to cut out healthy tissue with the disease), or ORBS (Same complaints plus various reports of them adding people who complain as a punishment). There are a few other companies such as Brightmail, but choice is limited.

--
People who sig other people have nothing intelligent to say for themselves - anonimouse
[ Parent ]
MAPS is now Censorware | 16 comments (5 topical, 11 editorial, 0 hidden)
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