TapBlacklist Madness

I have been losing incoming mail (apologies if you have written to me and I haven’t replied). No mail from Wanadoo has been reaching my west-penwith.org.uk addresses.

Wanadoo, formerly known as Freeserve and soon to become Orange, is one of the largest ISPs in Britain; possibly in Europe as well. Despite its rather poor customer service reputation, it is very popular with low activity users, which is why most of the rest of my family, my church, and many friends use it. I wrote to my hosting company (DotEasy.com) and they said that

Wanadoo’s email server is black listed by spambag.org

The address in question is When I queried this, because I deliberately do not subscribe to their anti-spam service preferring to handle it myself, they said

Doteasy does not use spambag.org

but that

Wanadoo.co.uk is appearing on our external relay blocking list, which includes more than one external spam blocking database. We are unable to “unblock” IP addresses that appear on this list.

I am not sure that I believe them but there is little more that I can do (except walk).

I also wrote to Wanadoo (in my role as Technology Manager for my church) and they said that they are

in contact with several well-recognised blacklisting organisations

but not with the

smaller providers such as Spews who do not provide contact details

(not mentioning Spambag.)

The feature of the blacklist in question is called a backscatter list. Spam often includes forged return addresses. If a mail server rejects the spam, some send a “bounce” to the reply address which ends up at an innocent third party rather than the spammer. This is backscatter and Spambag operates a “shoot first and ask questions later” policy listing whole domains and address ranges.

So where does that leave us—an unaccountable organisation (Spambag, just one guy and his vendetta) working with an unknown infrastructure organisation is blocking legitimate mail between my friends and me. Spambag justifies his actions on the grounds that he is entitled to block whatever he likes from his network and I agree. However he has also taken positive action to make his list available to anyone else and they have implemented it at random and unknown points throughout the internet. This is lunacy.

The real lunacy is that blacklists don’t work at all because the lister cannot keep up with the rapidly moving spammers; much spam comes from compromised user’s machines; blacklists penalise the innocent—they have no, or very little, control over their ISP and are often unaware that there is anything wrong. Blacklists are what has made email an unreliable form of communication and have caused a lot of disillusionment for Joe Public about the internet revolution.

In the mean time, for those who can’t get an email to me, I will put a Form Mail page on here as soon as I can find one written by someone who knows more than how to put two semicolons together.

11 Responses to “Blacklist Madness”

References from other web pages (Pings and Trackbacks)

  1. Order of the Bath » Blog Archive » Blueyonder - Spam source

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