Stophaus: a Movement or Just a Couple Guys?
By Ken Magill
[Warning: language and deep inappropriateness ahead]
Update: Andrew Stephens clearly identifies himself in the video referenced in this piece. He does it in big bold letters at 13 seconds in. How did I miss that? Haven't a clue. I just did. The original version of this piece had Stephens as anonymous. This piece has since been modified to reflect that Stephens is identified as the man in the video.
So just who is behind the crusade to take down Spamhaus that calls itself Stophaus? Is it a 400-member movement, as a representative has claimed? Or is it just two pissed-off guys, as its detractors contend?
According to Stophaus’s critics, the “group” consists of two men: Sven Kamphuis and Andrew Stephens.
Kamphuis, owner of controversial web hosting firm CyberBunker, was arrested in Spain in April on accusations that he was behind a massive DDoS—or distributed denial of service—attack on anti-spam outfit Spamhaus in March.
He is also the man who left long, rambling comments on several Magill Report articles involving Spamhaus.
A DDoS attack is designed to cripple a network by flooding it with so much useless traffic it can’t process all the requests.
A representative of Stophaus claimed Kamphuis was not behind the DDoS attack against Spamhaus, that he was just a spokesman for the group.
Kamphuis has also distanced himself from Stophaus, according to at least one Dutch news report.
“Sven Olaf Kamphuis stops as a spokesperson for the Stophaus movement,” was the headline of a piece on Emerce in April.
"There's a lot of confusion about my role and my companies in the alleged DDOS attacks of the past weeks." uttered the Dutch man, according to Emerce.
[Author’s note: Thank you Remy Bergsma for the translation.]
The other man critics claim is behind Stophaus, Stephens, is a man Spamhaus has labeled as a spammer and a sociopath.
According to Spamhaus’s main information page on Stephens, he is a “Spam sender, spam service provider, hijacked proxy seller, spamware and spam list seller. Stephens sells harvested address lists and spamming services designed to break ISP AUPs, circumvent spam filters and break federal law in the U.S. He fraudulently sells harvested lists as ‘opt-in’, sells ‘offshore bulletproof hosting’ and illegal ‘showshoe mailing’ setups to other naive spammers, and sells a spamware program called Mail Mascot (also sold as ‘DP Mailer’).
Stophaus posted a video on YouTube last week in which a man wearing a V-for-Vendetta masked made unspecified threats against Spamhaus.
“Let this be a warning to you [Spamhaus president] Steven John Linford and the rest of your minions at Spamhaus,” he said. “We are coming for you, all the time, every day, every week, every month and every year. Expect us.”
The video identifies the speaker as Andrew Stephens, a man with a well-known history of spreading venom against Spamhaus and anti-spammers in general.
Two days ago, Stephens posted: “Spamhaus hasn't figured out that blacklisting people for being ‘spam supportive’ is EXACTLY what the Freedom of Choice theory abhors.”
Also two days ago, he posted: “These [anti-spam discussion group] NANAEites are some very ‘special’ ppl let me tell ya. Somehow they can't see that their only effective tactic is to attempt to prevent the receipt of information by the reader.
“They do that in many ways; from blacklisting to discrediting libel to extortion and blackmail...but they fucked up when they tried that shit on me. What was it we said back in my ‘troubled days’? ‘Should've checked my record’.
“I am ‘That One Dude’! That one that just don't give a fuck! They can libel me, stalk me, harass me, attempt to extort me and my supporters, and run their dick-suckers all they want but my message WILL REACH THE READER ONE WAY OR ANOTHER AND THEY WILL DECIDE - BASED ON CONTENT AND DILIGENCE - WHETHER I AM REPORTING CORRECTLY OR NOT. So, fuck all the censors. Just because you don't want ppl to know doesn't mean you have a right to prevent it.
“Not Spamhaus, nor any other wannabe censor is going to prevent that...’You Better Check My Record’"
Stephens apparently has spent time in prison. By “troubled days,” he is presumably talking about having been incarcerated.
Then there’s this, also from two days ago. Brace yourself:
“These st00pid ‘Anti-Spam’ wannabes that think they are fighting crime while providing a censorship tool used by Government JUST DON'T GET IT!
“J.D. Falk was the founder of CAUCE (an instrument of Spamhaus). His daughter was kidnapped and tortured and raped and such for 5 years.
"His daughter was recently released, according to Joseph Menn’s recent article on Boing Boing, after having been kidnapped from her home five years ago, fed drugs, and made to service men, as a warning to ward off further investigations.
“Instead of heeding a very stern warning (one that I do not condone in any way), you'd think he would find a new line of work wouldn't you? Nope, this guy doesn't appreciate his daughter enough to keep her safe.
“What happens a little over a year later? J.D. Falk apparently dies from cancer.
“Looks to me like both The People and The All-Powerful were both trying to tell him something...but he didn't listen. Hopefully his daughter did however?”
The article Stephens refers to was published on BoingBoing in October, 2010. The article doesn’t name anyone. Moreover, the article’s author cites a friend of an anonymous source as the source of the story. There is no mention of any police involvement so it’s questionable if the incident even happened.
And though spam fighter J.D. Falk did die in November, 2011 of cancer at age 37, according to a long-time colleague and friend who claims to remain friends with Falk’s wife, he had no children.
One reason Stephens drew an erroneous connection between Falk and the BoingBoing story may have been that Falk co-authored a blog post about it.
Whether the Stophaus movement is 400 people, two, or somewhere in between, the two we've seen so far pretty much speak for themselves.