A Weblog About Topics and Issues Discussed in the Book Spam Kings by Brian McWilliams

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February 16, 2005

Protest brewing against Internet pioneer

Vint Cerf[Update: a draft of the protest letter is online here.]

Upset over MCI's refusal to kick a notorious spamware firm off its network, some anti-spammers are getting ready to lodge an ethics complaint against MCI senior vice president Vint Cerf.

Some participants on the Spam-L discussion list plan to file a complaint with the Association for Computing Machinery about Cerf's unwillingness to boot Send-Safe.com from the MCI network.

The furor comes the same day that the ACM named Cerf a co-recipient of the Turing Award, the so-called Nobel Prize of computing, for his work developing the TCP/IP protocol.

In a recent posting to the Spam-L list, Spamhaus founder Steve Linford said he communicated directly with Cerf about terminating Send-Safe. According to Linford, Cerf replied that MCI does not consider spamware a violation of its terms of service. Linford pointed out on the list that Send-Safe has previously been kicked off of four "bulletproof" hosting firms in China prior to landing at MCI.

In response, one ACM member wrote on Spam-L that Cerf was violating the ACM's code of ethics.

"By publicly defending MCI's hosting of send-safe and other spammers, Vin Cerf is violating sections 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.5, 1.7, 2.3, 3.1, 3.3, and probably a couple of others," wrote the Spam-L participant.

Another Spam-L regular described the situation this way: "Cerf and Kahn built this wonderful TCP/IP protocol suite, and all I
have to show for it are the Viagra spams mailed from mci.com!"

Look for anti-spammers to publish an open letter to the ACM, MCI, and Cerf in the near future.

Posted by brian at February 16, 2005 7:47 PM


People just need to start suing the hell out of these large companies and forcing them to take responsibility for the actions of their customers. That way they will start doing more due diligence prior to accepting people as a customer.

The minute companies have to take responsibility for what they allow on their networks that is the minute you free the slaves to this type of abuse.

We make parents responsible for their childrens actions, why not then make companies responsible for the actions of people they allow to pollute the digital air waves with their crap?

Sue them until hell freezes over, as soon as people start doing this the courts will start taking some actions based upon what is really going on in the real world as opposed to some archaic law written by some greedy senator who got paid under the table to write a law that says these companies shouldn't be held responsible for what their customers do.

Get a rep for being a sucker and all the scammers will float to your door, been that way since grifting started. Same applies here, have an easy policy for being lax in certain hosting areas and you will attract all the flies and sewer rats to dine at your table

Why is it that we don't see this or admit this is the case?

Fixing problems is easy. Screw up, allow illegal content or illegal spamming to go on, lose your entire company to the first guy that sues you for it.

That will shape up corporate fat cat America real quick like.

Until then stop complaining about a problem that is easily fixed by having corporate responsibility.

Jimbo JoeBob Jones

Posted by: Jimbo Jones at February 20, 2005 11:07 PM


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