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SpamCop Vigilantism

By Mike Banks Valentine
Posted Wednesday, December 8, 2004

The following is a note I received from an advertiser after he got a SPAM warning from a Spam Vigilante. Note that his service is a SPAM Filtering Service!

Mike,

Do you know what this means, and how it happened?

Joe

----- Original Message ----- From:
To:
Sent: Friday, May 24, 2002 7:18 PM Subject: [SpamCop (http://spamfilter.website101.com) id:82451690] [Astrology.ca] May 25 Horoscope > - SpamCop V1.3.3 -

> This message is brief for your comfort. Please follow links for details.

The following note come from the VIGILANTE via SpamCop

> > I never signed up for this! Send CONFIRMATION emails BEFORE mindlessly signing people up to prevent unauthorized signups! >

My response to my list advertiser is next

Joe,

You have just become the latest victim of spam vigilantism by a SpamCop member. It is a hate crime practiced by folks with little else to do but chase phantom criminals because they are so annoyed by REAL spammers. I guess you can't blame them since that is what obviates the SpamFilter Service you provide. I have written previous articles on the absolute stupidity of this vicious circle. You provide a valuable service with SpamFilter which is intended to stop spam directly. SpamCop thrives, in part, because your very worthwhile SpamFilter service is so necessary. I only wish more people would use SpamFilter and fewer used SpamCop.

Here is the usual course of events, Joe.

I host a daily horoscope list that goes to 4500 people. Many times enthusiastic astrology list subscribers sign up friends and relatives without their permission, to share a particular horoscope with them. It's the biggest drawback to hosting that list.

But I keep all subscription requests and can prove them. I've had run-ins with SpamCop before and they know about my list and that there are occasional complaints due to those unrequested sign-ups to the list by over enthusiastic friends and relatives. As you can see, I am advertising SpamFilter in that daily horoscope and when a complaint goes to spamcop, their mindless automated system sends to every domain listed in the email.

I've had trouble with it before and have a section in the SpamFilter folder discussing it. Note the links to SpamCops Abuses and the multiple articles from other victims of the so-called service. Most of us are list hosts or have our own newsletters. Read the articles I have posted.

(http://website101.com/SpamFilter/spamcop.net.html) (http://website101.com/SpamFilter/spamcops.html) (http://website101.com/SpamFilter/spammer_spamming.html)

All that is required is to notify everyone involved of the likely cause, that is friends signing up others without permission. I even directly ask people NOT to sign up others to avoid this trouble. But when it does happen, I always notify my web host, the list host and any advertisers in the list and it's becoming routine, unfortunately, because of how SpamCop works -- or I should say, doesn't work. That is the reason I like your SpamFilter service so much. It removes the crap to allow me more time to deal with real issues.

SpamCop is a real issue and I tire of the vigilantes involved with them. Unfortunately, it seems not to go away, no matter how many list owners are attacked this way. I'm sending a copy of this to my Web Host, my List Host, to SpamCop, to you and to other advertisers, so that everyone is aware of the stupidity involved and doesn't take the matter too far. I'll be posting a copy of this in the SpamFilter article file as well to further illustrate the vigilante nature of SpamCop members.

Makes me think of lynchings and other hate crimes when people do this. Talk about knee-jerk reactions. Notice that the complainer is masked by SpamCop? They complain anonymously and it's not possible to respond to them, even when you would like to explain it to them. Neither can you unsubscribe the complainer. Usually they just continue to complain and you must continue to defend yourself so your host doesn't take action against you, your list or your site.

In this case I can prove the person is subscribed, and if they did the complaining directly to me, I could show them the subscription and the IP address of the person that subscribed them. But they string up the noose and attempt to hang the object of their wrath, even if they ought to be stringing up the friend or relative that subscribed them to the list without their permission. Note also that there is a plainly visible and always available UNSUBSCRIBE link at the bottom of the list.

They don't unsubscribe, they would rather complain than to take direct action. It's all really very absurd.

Mike Banks Valentine

Joe wrote:

Mike,
Do you know what this means, and how it happened. Joe

----- Original Message ----- From:
To:
Sent: Friday, May 24, 2002 7:18 PM Subject: [SpamCop (http://spamfilter.website101.com) id:82451690] [Astrology.ca] May 25 Horoscope > - SpamCop V1.3.3 -

> This message is brief for your comfort. Please follow links for > >details.

> >I never signed up for this! Send CONFIRMATION emails BEFORE > >mindlessly signing people up to prevent unauthorized signups! >
> (http://spamcop.net/w3m?i=z82451690z7ace8a3499a4c) 47e3d2714d14424bca0z
> Spamvertised website: (http://spamfilter.website101.com) >
> (http://spamfilter.website101.com) is 66.216.72.170; Sat, 25 May
2002
03:34:38 GMT

The following is a copy of the daily horoscope list that I host that was falsely accused of spamming by someone that was signed up by a usually well-meaning friend who simply wants to share a horoscope they think has particular meaning for their friend or relative. I don't condone this, and I wish that subscribers wouldn't do it, but it is rather harmless, isn't it? Notice the advertisers (who also get spam notices from SpamCops.) >
> AstrologySender.com presents Horoscopes Daily > Brandi Jasmine, Editor >
> ¶º¶º¶º¶º¶º¶º¶º¶º¶º¶º¶º¶º¶º¶º¶º¶º¶º¶º¶º¶º¶º¶º¶º¶º¶º¶º¶º¶º¶º¶º¶ >
> AstrologySender.com powered by Astrology.ca >
> You are receiving this issue because you subscribed > Unsubscribe by using the address at the bottom of page. >
> ------------------------------------------------------------ >
> ==> Sponsor Ad: SpamFilter! > ==> Today's Horoscopes > ==> UniqueSender.com Themed Portals in YOUR Interests! > ==> Classified ads: Healing Oat Bath Mix > ------------------------------------------------------------ >
> Fed UP with SPAM? Finally, there's a Solution! >
> SpamFilter Cleans your inbox Before you check email! > If you are spending too much time deleting unwanted > commercial email and stopping pornographic images > from filling your inbox. Check out SpamFilter! >
> 7 Day Free Trial if you sign up this week! >
> (http://spamfilter.website101.com) >
> ----------------------------------------------------------- > To have your ad appear above send for our ad rate card > mailto:ads@AstrologySender.com > ----------------------------------------------------------- >
> 25-05-2002
>
> Aries
>
> Don't try to push your values or priorities on a friend today. Even if you are in the right, the effort could backfire,
> leaving a lot of negative feelings instead of the positive effect you had hoped to generate. You won't be at your
> most patient or tolerant today.


Most Horoscopes have been removed, come sign up if you want yours! I'm willing to bet the complainer was an Aries. ;-) The end is included here to show the UNSUBSCRIBE notice and the additional advertiser that was an unwitting victim of this Spam Vigilante.

> Pisces
>
> You are likely to make spontaneous trips or excursions today, but they are not likely to turn out like you hoped. It's > okay if this takes place relatively close to home, but a spur of the moment cross-country trip is definitely not a
> good idea.
>
>
> ----------------------------------------------------------- >
> Healing Oat Bath Mix for Sunburn Damaged Skin >
> Soothes and heals sunburn damaged sensitive skin > Use as a poultice to relieve when sunscreen failed >
> (http://www.pennyisland.com) >
> AOL Members Click Here > ------------------------------------------------------------ >

The plainly visible directions for unsubscribing included in every email.

> Visit the following address to subscribe and unsubscribe. >
> (http://guidelists.com:81/guest/RemoteListSummary/Astrology_CA) >
> click link above, enter your email address > click "unsubscribe" click the "submit" button >
>
--

The following info comes directly from the SpamCop.net web site and the links will take you to their FAQ pages.

SpamCop FAQ
(http://spamcop.net/fom-serve/cache/1.html)

SpamCop ISP and mailing list admin FAQs : (http://spamcop.net/fom-serve/cache/75.html)

I have been falsely and/or maliciously accused of spamming, what can I do?

(http://spamcop.net/fom-serve/cache/167.html)

The following is text directly from the SpamCop from that last link. Save it for the inevitable day that YOU are persued by Vigilantes.

"False spam reports are not tolerated. Users who file false reports will be banned from the SpamCop service and/or fined. However, in order to take action, we must see proof of wrongdoing. If you would like to take action against a user who has erroneously accused you of spamming, please forward to deputies@admin.spamcop.net:

The entire SpamCop report, including full headers and the entire spam.

Proof that the user in question did subscribe for your list.

(Proof can be a log excerpt or a copy of the returned, e-mailed confirmation. There must be proof of a two-way, secure confirmation. This must include IPs and datestamps for two stages - both a signup and a confirmation.)

If you would like to pursue action with the user's internet provider SpamCop reports include all the information you need to do so. IP address and datestamp of the complainant are included in the report. You can even feed a SpamCop report to SpamCop to determine the originating point."

About the Author
Mike Banks Valentine hosts the valuable SpamFilter service at (http://spamfilter.website101.com) if you want to get real about SPAM and do more than complain. Come join the I-Privacy Discussion List Moderated by Mike at (http://www.adventive.com/lists/iprivacy/summary.html) SUBSCRIBE: mailto:i-privacy-join-request@list.adventive.com