Archive for the ‘ Computing ’ Category

Email disclaimers

I own a number of domains. Recently one of these has started to receive a number of email messages to apparently genuinely real people who definitely don’t have an email address on that domain but who, for some reason, are receiving email. (My favourite theory is a badly configured mail server appending an incorrect domain to outgoing messages.)

Several of the messages I’ve received have had disclaimers appended to the end, you know the form,

This email is only intended for the recipient, if you are not the recipient, please douse your computer in moonshine and howl at the moon.

(Due credit to MetaFilter)

I have taken to responding in a slightly disdainful tone (haughty? moi?) that if the sender can’t be bothered to verify that they’re sending email to real addresses then I can’t be held to their grip on the law.

Google searches suggest I’m on reasonably solid ground:

Even though their effectiveness in court is doubtful, they may provide a useful argument in negotiations to resolve a dispute.

The central conceit here is that while I’m not the target for the email I’m being given something. I’m not picking it up in the street, looking over someone’s shoulder or poking my nose into someone else’s private space. This is my email account and someone is, mistakenly, putting something of theirs into my inbox. I refuse to accept conditions – if they can’t send it to addresses they have validated to be correct, why should I obey their wishes?

I’m interested in why I might have got this wrong. I’m also interested in the real reasons why other people have so little regard for their businesses that they could configure their systems to get it wrong.

Reasons to be cheerful

So when I said that when we moved we wouldn’t be keeping Virgin, I was right: when we moved, we didn’t.

This just proves the point.

Phorm is just censorship by another name: delivering content to a user that they didn’t ask for, obscuring what they did request, while not telling them that changes were made. It might start with advertising but could be trivially re-tooled to mask ‘unapproved’ content.

While the IWF and Wikipedia have had some press recently at least they were relatively upfront about the blockages, the reasons for them and the thinking behind it. There is some discussion over what the viewer should be shown if cleanfeed complains (e.g. 404 is lying, but 403 is that the server is refusing which isn’t strictly true either), but at least it’s reasonably public (although there is an argument for hiding the links because by informing someone of the block, you’re confirming that dubious material might really exist there).

But any company (or country) blocking unilaterally a legal protocol are going to find themselves suffering very quickly, as Comcast found out.