Thursday, October 12, 2006

Spamhaus Case Threat

We have this vision of the Net as a the great level playing field where all the world can come on an equal basis. For some time, people outside the US have been concerned that the US has too much ownership and influence in the Net. Now the concerns are coming home to roost with the Spamhaus case.

The case is quite simple. is a volunteer run organization in London that issues lists of email spammers to ISP and other organizations around the world. A US business, e360Insight LLC sued Spamhaus in a Chicago court to have its name removed from the Spamhaus list of email spammers. Spamhaus has no money and considers that the Chicago court did not have jurisdiction over it, so it did not appear to defend their position. As they did not defend their position, they lost the case.

First the Judge issued a judgment of $11M against Spamhaus that has been ignored. Now the Judge has proposed an order that ICANN, a US based organization should take away the domain name from them. Without their domain name, people who use Spamhaus would not know where to go to get their email spammer lists.

The problem is that ICANN is a US organization and therefore subject to the vagaries of US justice which is somewhat variable in the lower courts. There has been good coverage of the Spamhaus case, but only today have people started to realize its long term consequences. I think we would all feel that the net would by much more neutral if its governing bodies were based in a neutral country like Switzerland.

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