Monday, January 17, 2005

Verizon blanket ban on UK emails

I missed an interesting story in Wired last week. Verizon have apparently been blocking all email from the UK and other parts of Europe for several weeks.

I guess censorship by a communications service provider is ok in the Land of the Free, as long as it's only those foreigners that get censored. I'm being a little unfair. Private corporations are, of course, fully entitled to engage in censorship in the free market.

According to Wired,

"Verizon began blocking ranges of IP addresses belonging to British and European ISPs on Dec. 22, according to the company. The blacklisting of e-mail from abroad was in response to spam coming from the region, according to a customer service representative at Verizon who identified himself only as "Gary." He said company policy prevents him from giving out his last name."

I recall a similar case about 5 years ago, which I wrote about at the time. On 20 October, 1999, IDT, a New Jersey based ISP, blocked all email from the UK because some of its customers had received a large number of offensive unsolicited emails, apparently from a UK address. The spammer had actually exploited a security hole in a UK university's system. This made it appear as if the bulk emails were originating from there. The university (of Leeds) claim that IDT did not contact them before they took their action.

Even if the emails had come from that university, or some of the spam currently bothering Verizon is sprouting from the UK, it is a bit drastic to cut off an entire country in response [if that is what is actually happening].

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