The Spam Diaries

News and musings about the fight against spam.
 by Edward Falk

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Gag me


One of the purposes of this lawsuit is to censor as much information about Netzilla and Jerry Reynolds from the internet as possible. Over the years, Reynolds has left quite a digital paper trail of his activities, and now he finds that it's interfering with his livelihood. So by hook or by crook (or in this case by forgery or by court), he's doing his best to scrub the record.

It started, of course, with the demand letters that I remove my web site. At first, he demanded that I remove specific items from his case file. When that didn't work, he demanded that I remove it entirely. No luck there.

Reynolds filed his lawsuit against me on Feb 18, 2005. A few days later, forged cancel messages were transmitted from one of his servers, deleting every article about him from the usenet archives that could be found. Now, these articles had expired from the usenet news spools years ago, but the forged cancels also made their way to the Google Groups 2 servers, which for some reason honored them and removed the articles from the archives. Luckily, Google Canada and the U.K. were still running Google Groups 1, and those servers didn't honor cancels. We were able to retrieve the censored articles from those servers. (Later, Google received enough complaints about censorship via forged cancels that they reversed their policy and restored the deleted articles.)

Reynolds' next step was to convince the judge in the "computer crime" case against Ritz and myself that publishing public whois and dns data about his servers somehow made them vulnerable to hackers. He was able to get a court order forbidding Ritz or "anybody working in concert" with him (i.e. me) from publishing information about Reynolds' servers. Ritz was then forced to remove his web pages containing the evidence which would have been used by me to defend myself in my defamation case.

In April, 2005, there had been a discussion on usenet about a mysterious peering request from "spamkiller.net". The sysadmin starting the discussion wanted to know who spamkiller.net was, and if they could be trusted. I responded by noting that spamkiller.net was registered anonymously (highly unusual), and that no legitimate business would be hiding their identity like that. Ritz and some other spam-fighters went even further and discovered that spamkiller.net was in fact owned by Jerry Reynolds.

In August, armed with his court order, Reynolds went to Google and demanded that all archives of the spamkiller.net discussion be removed from Google Groups. You can read all about it at Chilling Effects.

In December, I was served with another court order, forcing me to remove all references to Reynolds' servers from my web pages. You can see the effects of this court order in the Netzilla case file, where I was forced to replace many references with "Removed by TRO".

Finally, we see that the court hearings on jurisdiction coming up in February and March (two lawsuits, two jurisdiction hearings -- in fact, two of everything), have been closed to the public at Reynolds' request. Come on, a jurisdiction hearing closed to the public? What is Reynolds hiding, and how did he convince two judges to let him hide it?

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