Who’s really liable for your spam-spewing zombie?

A thought just occured to me on the whole Qwest/GoDaddy (and whomever else EmailBattles finds) charge-for-spam fiasco.

Sooner or later, Qwest or GoDaddy will actually send someone a bill, that someone will claim they weren’t at fault, and the matter will wind up in court. Who is responsible?

These big companies will invariably try picking on someone small, like a consumer account. Someone will realize that a machine was infected with a spam-spewing zombie, but it will be difficult (and expensive) to explain to a judge or jury what a zombie actually is. And how did it get there?

Is this an argument that the computer, or its operating system (with all its built in security mechanisms – or lack thereof) lacks fitness for the purpose it was intended? Instead of just pointing fingers at the network and registrars, I’d suggest someone pay careful attention to software T&Cs as well.


J.D. Falk says:

I’m surprised that you & others think this is a new thing, though I suppose I shouldn’t be — historical perspective is in short supply, I guess.

Way back before most of the independent ISPs were snarfed up by telcos, a whole bunch of ’em had clauses like this. The anti-spam community of the time strongly encouraged the practice, and I even heard of cases where it was successfully enforced.

All this was before zombies were common, of course.

You right on target – I didn’t know that. But I do now, and appreciate the insight. I am not surprised that anti-spammers of old would have encouraged the practice. As botnets were not prevalent at the time, spam was coming primarily and directly from the spammers themselves. The world has certainly changed.

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