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Massive blocking of incoming e-mail by Verizon
From: "David Farber" <dave () farber net>
Date: Tue, 25 Apr 2006 14:02:40 -0400

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--- Begin Message --- From: Lauren Weinstein <lauren () vortex com>
Date: Tue, 25 Apr 2006 08:19:16 -0700 (PDT)


Reports have come in from all over of failed mail into Verizon SMTP
servers.  I first noticed this a couple of days ago, when my own
outbound mail (all originating from static IP addresses of long
standing) destined for Verizon customers began being rejected with a
"spam block" response and a reference to a whitelist request page.

Shortly afterwards I learned that even *very* long time static e-mail
SMTP source IPs (like SRI!) were also being blocked in a similar

The whitelist page points to two forms -- one for "ISPs" sending
mail and one for Verizon customers receiving mail.  The ISP form
allows you to list individual comma-separated SMTP IP addresses, but
doesn't even provide a place for including comments, questions, or
additional information.  No other contact information is provided
either.  The form also asks if SPF records were in use, though as we
know, spam is as likely as anything else (maybe even more likely)
these days to carry SPF or domainkeys records.

The Verizon customer form provides a place for comments (don't
exceed the designated 45 words though, or the form complains
information is missing!) but expects customers to know the sending
SMTP hostnames of their correspondents to enter on the form.
Reportedly people trying to call customer service for help were
greeted by clueless reps (well, yeah, what else did we expect?)

I sent in the "ISP" form and got automated e-mail responses (one for
each IP address that I had reported) back the next morning, saying
that my requests had undergone a "thorough investigation" and that
blocks would be cleared within 72 (!) hours.  In reality, mail
started flowing again just a few hours later.  

It's interesting that this occurs at the same time as the "AOL
blocking Gmail" incident, but these events again demonstrate the
level of disruption that can triggered by ad hoc blocking moves by
the very large ISPs.  This is especially true in an environment where
typical consumer users have less and less say about how their e-mail
will be processed and delivered, and are often blocked from running
their own e-mail servers where they could establish their own e-mail
control policies.

Lauren Weinstein
lauren () vortex com or lauren () pfir org
Tel: +1 (818) 225-2800
Co-Founder, PFIR
   - People For Internet Responsibility - http://www.pfir.org
Co-Founder, IOIC
   - International Open Internet Coalition - http://www.ioic.net
Moderator, PRIVACY Forum - http://www.vortex.com
Member, ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy
Lauren's Blog: http://lauren.vortex.com
DayThink: http://daythink.vortex.com


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