Spamhaus CEO Linford Clarifies Retail Email Position
In the wake of last week’s report that Spamhaus has been blocklisting retailers for sending messages to email addresses with typos in them, the anti-spam group’s CEO Steve Linford was kind enough to clarify his position in the comments section of The Magill Report.
In order to understand what Linford is referring to, if you haven’t read last week’s report, it would be best to start there.
Here is Linford’s clarification unedited:
“We are sort of half with you on this one Ken, we don't want to frustrate legitimate marketers and especial not retailers such as Gap, however it's difficult to reconcile telling senders that all bulk mail sent to Spamhaus users must be COI [confirmed opt in]while at the same time saying "Well if you're Gap you don't need to care about COI or SBL policy, just bulk away to non-COI and we'll tell our users to regard you as the exception to the policy".
“What we are doing currently is trying to make large retailers who refuse to use COI aware of the issue by flagging them in SBL listings but - note - as in the case of SBL168458 which you link to in your article, that these SBL listings list the IP address as "...0/32" - which is not actually blocking them (because nobody runs mail servers on ".0"). It was changed to 0/32 as soon as the issue was raised. We use "0/32" listings as flags to alert the senders and their hosts to an SBL policy issue but without actually blocking them, our way of warning that they're violating SBL policy and we will have to enforce SBL policy if they ignore the issue.
“The reason we must highlight the COI issue with some big retailers is that when we buy online we trust the retailer with our private email address for purchasing or delivery problems and inevitably with some that trust is lost when we then start receiving junk to those addresses. A world tired with receiving junk to addresses they give retailers who won't let an online purchase continue without an email address is a world that learns to enter made-up email addresses or "email@example.com" into the forms instead - to retailers who are happy to assert that the made-up address or indeed The President has fully subscribed to a ton of bulk mailings when to all normal minds they have not. In our view retailers shoot themselves in the foot by leaving this avenue for abuse open and Gap urgently needs to address their problem (which has been ongoing since June). COI has been Best Current Practice in mailing list management since at least 1996.
“While it's true that COI has a drop-off rate during confirmation, I would argue that the drop-off rates you see are due quite simply to logical reasons: (1) User has entered a bad address and did not get your COI request. (2) User was not really that interested and having had a minute to "cool off" has now decided not to subscribe. (3) User actually couldn't give a damn, did you really want them that badly? They'd probably have pressed the "this is spam" button later. (4) User gave someone else's address and that recipient chose not to confirm. (5) Your COI request arrived looking like just another advert to press delete on.”