AOL Blocks Private Mail Servers In Blanket Spam Defense

Originally reported by C|Net earlier this month, and brought to our attention by Slashdot this weekend, it appears as if AOL is playing censor, and using a large paintbrush to paint potential spammers. The worldis largest ISP has implemented a new policy that blocks any traffic coming from mail servers hosted on popular DSL (home) services such as Comcast and AOL Time Warneris Roadrunner. This move, which is openly supported by Comcast, is an attempt by AOL to curb the massive amounts of spam generated by unscrupulous advertisers operating their own servers. From the article:

AOL and Comcast, in particular, have worked together to identify a range of Internet protocol addresses of Comcast customers who have set up their own mail server to send messages, as opposed to using Comcastis mail servers like most subscribers do.

AOL began censoring messages originating from those IP addresses, stopping designated Comcast subscribers from sending mail to AOL members.

Spammers are increasingly attracted to piggybacking on high-speed pipes to send spam because they can send more, and by using their own mail server, they can bypass the spam-detection measures that ISPs use on mail before itis sent on their networks.

Unfortunately, it also blocks legitimate mail servers whose operators are not abusing the service. Nils Puhlmann, a current Comcast subscriber and victim of the new practice, has weighed in on the subject saying:

"For people who have set up a private mail server to send e-mail with a domain name that reflects their family name or their small-home based business, they cannot send one single e-mail to anyone with an address."

Despite the fact that legitimate customers are being harmed by the practice, the companies involved have chosen to condone this blanket approach to combat rising spam. Read the full article at C|Net for more information.