Friday, January 21, 2005

The USA Patriot Act vs. Blog Comment Spam

I never thought I'd have anything good to say about the USA Patriot Act. I was wrong.

In a comment to my previous post on fighting comment spam, Doug Alder (Doug's Dynamic Drivel) outlined a method to strike back at the scum who regularly post links to sites promoting online gambling and various prescription remedies. Now, Doug has posted a revised version of his tactic on his own blog. See Fighting the “C” spammers.

Doug makes a good point when he says that many of the technical methods employed to block comment spam hurt the innocent along with the guilty. When spammers use trojans, zombies or bots to post comments, banning the IP is banning another victim's IP - not the guilty one. The new rel=nofollow tactic is going to hurt the crosslinking network that gives good bloggers credibility. Read what Doug has to say on this.

After following Doug's advice a couple days ago, comment spam disappeared from my site - temporarily. As might have been expected, it came back but a new set of URLs was being hyped and they are hosted at a new hosting company. It didn't take long for me to track down the new host. Here is a copy of the email I sent them:


One of your clients is defacing my website. It appears they are using an automated instrument to place ads on my site without my permission. This is hacking and that contravenes the USA PATRIOT ACT. Now that you have been informed, should they continue, you are culpable and I will report you to the FBI.

These defacements appear to originate from multiple IP's, indicating the use of a backdoor zombie technique. That constitutes an even greater contravention of the Patriot Act. The use of trojan backdoors on zombie computers to hide one's identity while breaking into servers is a technique used by TERRORISTS.

They are violating CAN-SPAM. Again, now you know. You are equally responsible.

It is well known that virtually all sites that promote online gambling are run by the RUSSIAN MOB. The US Treasury Department and the FBI will be very interested in who's doing what on your servers.

I have pasted a copy of the illegal material that your client used to deface my website below.

Please take immediate action or face investigation and prosecution by the appropriate law enforcement agencies.

Jim Elve

I added a copy of the comment spam email notification I found in my mailbox this morning. I'm not going to reproduce that here or name the host. If I see more spam from this source, however, I will name the host and I will follow through with my threat to notify law enforcement agencies.

I encourage other victims to copy my letter and to adapt it to the specifics of your own situation.

I like Doug's attitude: hit 'em where it hurts. As he puts it:

Will this work in every case? Of course not, but it will work in a lot of cases. Further, the more bloggers that use this technique the more complaints an ISP will get about a client and the more likely that customer will be told to move on. Now you’ve hurt the spammer. Don’t you feel better? A little revenge goes a long way to easing the annoyance of deleting all those attempts every morning doesn’t it!

Thanks again, Doug, for taking the time to create yet another tool in the anti-spam toolbox.

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