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Re: ISPs as content-police or method-police

  • From: Stephen Sprunk
  • Date: Tue Nov 21 14:28:33 2000

Thus spake "Roeland Meyer" <[email protected]>
> Please reference any suit regarding breach of contract. Examples
> abound. Port filtering may be construed as a material breach when the
> expectation is, that there is to be no port filtering. Access is
> even when the customer doesn't know that they are being restricted in
> their access. That just assures you that they will go ballistic when
> find out.

If filtering is in the contract, it's hardly breach of contract to
perform it.

> Face it guys, you KNOW that this is basically dishonest. As such, it
> indefensible. I would almost bet <amount> that none of the transit
> providers mentions restrictions, on access, in their contracts. I
> almost bet <1/2 amount> that NONE of the access providers mention
> same in THEIR contracts.

AT&T, I believe, was the first major provider to start filtering port
25; here's the relevant part of their contract:
"AT&T reserves the right to block, filter or delete Unsolicited

While it doesn't explicitly state how they intend to "block, filter or
delete" spam, filtering port 25 by default can be reasonably construed
to fit that definition, and is therefore within the contract.

Ths is also promising:
"don't send materials that contain viruses, worms, or any other
destructive elements; ... You may not use or attempt to use the Service
to violate its security or the security of systems accessible through
it, ... you should secure your computer equipment so that only
authorized users can gain access to your Service account."

You could claim that these sections authorize blocking of QAZ et al,
since the activity of worms is prohibited.  Also, customers are required
to secure their computers to prevent intrusion, so leaving any blatantly
insecure protocol like SMB enabled might be breach of contract.
Wholesale blocking of SMB might even be allowed.

Of course, I wouldn't want to use that logic in court, but a good lawyer
could probably pull it off.  I'd prefer to insert more specific wording
into the contract first.

> The general expectation is for clear and open pipes. Put such
> into your contracts and you will lose customers.

As long as a user can request the filters be removed (as in AT&T's
case), I doubt anyone will lose customers.  In fact, I've seen many ads
for ISPs which promote their filtering service with the belief that it
will bring them more customers.

> Don't put them in and start filtering anyway and you will lose
> court cases...big ones.

If an ISP refuses to turn off unrequested filters, and the filters
aren't in the contract, I can see a lawsuit.  I can also see the
customer simply taking their business elsewhere and persuing the matter
through the press.  As AGIS proved, that turned out to be far more
effective than courts.

Then again, nobody here seems to be suggesting mandatory filtering.  Why
is there such a strong objection to opt-out filters, where a single call
or email can get the filters turned off?  Is using a phone really that


     |          |         Stephen Sprunk, K5SSS, CCIE #3723
    :|:        :|:        Network Design Consultant, GSOLE
   :|||:      :|||:       New office: RCDN2 in Richardson, TX
.:|||||||:..:|||||||:.    Email: [email protected]