Dutch ISP sues Spamhaus for 'extortion'

Posted by   Virus Bulletin on   Oct 13, 2011

Blacklist entries 'unfair and illegal'.

Dutch ISP A2B Internet has sued The Spamhaus Project, claiming the project unfairly blacklisted its IP range.

A2B provides the upstream connection for a number of data centres. Recently, Spamhaus, which runs a number of widely used IP- and URL-based blacklists, asked the provider to block traffic of the Cyberbunker provider, claiming the latter had been engaged in spamming.

According to A2B, this accusation was based on a single SMS spam message and it refused to block anything but the IP address this message was sent from. Spamhaus then added all of A2B's IP addresses to its SBL blacklist. After about 24 hours, A2B gave in and blocked Cyberbunker's traffic, after which the blacklist entry was removed.

A2B sees this as proof it had been extorted and that the listing was not based on the ISP being involved in spamming. It claims Spamhaus's actions were unfair and illegal.

When contacted by a Dutch IT news website, Spamhaus founder Steve Linford declined to comment on the specific case. He did, however, say that Spamhaus has a policy of blocking ISPs that facilitate spammers. To call this extortion, Linford continued, is the same as being refused entry to a restaurant for not conforming to its dress code, and then claiming you are being extorted.

Spamhaus has a history of lawsuits filed against it, usually by those it directly accused of (and more often than not engaged in) spamming. Famously, when sued by mass-mailer e360, Spamhaus was initially sentenced to pay $11m in damages. This amount was later reduced to a mere three dollars.

More (in Dutch) at IT website Webwereld here. The FAQs for Spamhaus's SBL blacklist can be found here.

Update: Spamhaus has now commented on the case in a blog post, explaining how Cyberbunker (also known as CB3ROB) has been involved in hosting malware and phishing sites. Ironically, this very week Spamhaus has been working with the Dutch hi-tech crime unit to investigate the criminal activity hosted by Cyberbunker and routed by A2B.

Posted on 13 October 2011 by Virus Bulletin

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