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Tracking Harvesters/Spammers

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 Bait addresses
Author: A.Yandow   (17 Jan 05 9:49am)
Since installing a Honeypot script this weekend, I've spent some time discussing some possible outcomes of it with a couple of friends. One mentioned having watched an interview with a spammer in which the spammer reported having made over $2,000,000 in one year. Prosecuting such an individual for theft of an address or two which are identified as having a value of $50 US would seem to have little effect. If I made that much I would consider paying out such small fees as a mere inconvenience, or a small operating cost. But what if there were a very large number of addresses harvested? That would certainly raise the stakes considerably.

With that in mind I compiled a huge list of addresses formed into links which would not be visible to human visitors of the site and pasted them into the default index file. The end result is 2023 addresses, all of which are aliased to a single mailbox. I may have just set myself up to get my own throat cut, but what the heck, it's worth a try. I'll let you know when my mail server chokes.

If anyone wants a copy of the list, let me know. I'll provide it gladly.
 Re: Bait addresses
Author: M.Prince   (18 Jan 05 4:21am)
We consulted with a number of attorneys in writing the terms and conditions that appear on honey pot pages. Courts, at least in the United States, are reluctant to impose what appear to be unreasonable "penalty clauses" on anyone bound by a contract. As a result, writing in an absurdly high fee was unlikely to ever be upheld.

We settled on $50 as a reasonable fee for an individual email address. Again, the goal was to set a fee that a court would say, "Yeah, that's about what an email address is worth." We thought $50 was easily defensible.

The contract is really just one part of a two part plan. We anticipate that every spammer will plead, "I can't be bound by that contract, I never ready it and the was never a 'meeting of the minds.'" At that point, of course, we can point to the CAN-SPAM Act which imposes CRIMINAL liability for using electronic means to harvest email addresses. Our hope is that between the contract on the honey pot pages, the CAN-SPAM Act, and other Federal, State, and International laws we'll be able to put some spammers behind bars with the data Project Honey Pot helps generate. In other words, we only need one part of the litigation strategy to be effective in order to really "put the hurt on."

Beyond creating a litigation strategy against spammers, the other reason for the contract, of course, is to discourage other human beings from sending to the email addresses on the page. We believe, at the very least, it will succeed at that.
 Re: Bait addresses
Author: A.Yandow   (18 Jan 05 8:20am)
That all makes sense. I think what will help our cause the most is to just win a case or two, establish presidence on the issue. Perhaps there should be a seperate topic here where we can document the cases that are won for reference to be used in future cases? I'm sure that being able to cite several past cases in which our Terms were upheld would help. Getting to that point I think would be a serious deterrant for harveters.

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