Spamhaus Judgement Tests InternetOctober 21st, 2006
There is an interesting legal case going on in a US District Court, with ramifications for the entire internet. Spamhaus is an organization that publishes a spam blacklist, and it was sued by a blacklisted company earlier this year. Spamhaus initially participated in the proceedings but then withdrew, stating that a US court had no authority over a company based in the UK. A summary judgement was ordered, which Spamhaus ignored. Now the plaintiff is trying to get the Spamhaus domain name shut down, via a proposed court order (PDF) to both the US-based ICANN and the Canadian domain registrar Tucows. ICANN has stated that it cannot comply with the proposed order and that only Tucows can do so. Since Tucows is based in Canada, it does not have to comply with a US court order. So we have a US court possibly trying to shut down a UK organization by issuing a court order to a Canadian company. This is a true test of who really controls the internet. Note that the court order has only been proposed, and has not yet been signed by the judge.
Spamhaus’ blacklist is responsible for blocking about 50 billion spam messages each day. This is an estimated 75 to 90 percent of the total email traffic, so shutting down Spamhaus would cause a four- to ten-fold increase in the amount of email worldwide. Spamhaus is predicting doom and gloom if that were to occur.
UPDATE: The judge has denied the proposed order.