There’s a new email going around stating that Steve Linford/Spamhaus recently lost an $11.7 million lawsuit and they are now starting a class action lawsuit against Spamhaus, Linford, users/supporters of Spamhaus, and ISPs who deny service based on Spamhaus.
The email neglects to mention a few details though. The lawsuit was filed in an Illinois court. Spamhaus is based in the UK and does not have any sort of presence in Illinois, which means the court has no jurisdiction over them. This page is the Spamhaus response to the filing of that lawsuit, pointing out this fact. The page also points out other flaws in the lawsuit, including the facts that Spamhaus doesn’t block anyone from sending any email (it allows Spamhaus users to block incoming emails) and that they failed to follow proper legal procedure in the lawsuit (serving the Temporary Restraining Order via email and falsely claiming that Spamhaus does business in Illinois). This page is an answer to the current claims.
The email points to the news.admin.net-abuse mailing list and recommends searching Google for “Spamhaus Terrorists” to find out the truth about this situation. n.a.n.a currently has a bunch of posts from people who were spammed with this crap about a Spamhaus Lawsuit. The Google search returns some opinions about the legitimacy of the Spamhaus blacklist, many with responses stating that Spamhaus is one of the most reliable anti-spam organizations around.
The fact of the matter is that I too was spammed with this junk. It was sent to my abuse-reporting address. I have never used this address for anything other than listing it as an abuse contact. It did not come to my main email address, which is advertised in everything I do. A number of email blacklists similar to Spamhaus have become what the editorials claim about Spamhaus: they block a bunch of innocent users (either because they’re incompetent and/or apathetic about doing it properly or in order to cause lots of collateral damage to force the provider to get rid of spammers) and use the blacklist to further their own vendettas (blocking anyone they don’t like or who they disagree with). I can’t say anything for certain, but I’ve personally found the same results that many others have: Spamhaus is one of the better ones out there.
The email also claims that the SBL that Spamhaus charges for can be found at http://cbl.abuseat.org/ for free. Again, that’s not exactly true. The XBL is a list of exploited machines which are sources of junk. The XBL includes the CBL list as well as NJABL data. The SBL is a separate list of spammer IP addresses. There is a combined SBL-XBL which can be queried all at once. So the CBL is part of a list run by Spamhaus which is similar to the SBL. As for being free, the SBL is free for general use. For huge ISPs making lots of requests against the list, they offer a Datafeed service which transfers a copy of the list to the ISP’s own server. That is a paid service.
Also, the bottom of the CBL FAQ actually states Spamhaus is one of the most respected anti-spam organizations in the world. They recommend that you use Spamhaus’ XBL rather than querying the CBL directly.
To sum all that up, this letter is a lie from a spammer, trying to cause problems for an anti-spammer in order to increase their own profits. If you’re interested, here are the definitions of spam by Spamhaus and by SpamCop.