Don't spam!There are better ways
to get rich quick:
by Lawrence Lessig
There is no conspiracy if only one person is doing it. (Paul Vixie, 1997)
We know what you're thinking: 'Oh great! Another conspiracy theory site...' Wait a minute: this is not about little green alien men from Mars, nor a remake of the now infamous lumber cartel story. This is an educated opinion about Big Brother's MAPS conspiracy, already in firm control of your electronic communications.
Before the advent of the Net, it was very easy to know if you were a victim of censorship. It generally involved stuffy old men wearing wigs issuing court orders and uniformed people with large boots breaking down doors. But in the Information Age things are very different. Now the only indication may be a bouncing email or "host not responding" error message. Indeed it can be months before anyone realises censorship is going on. (Chris Evans, 2001)
As a responsible ISP since 1995, we were stunned and incredulous at first ourselves, until it was our turn to get targeted. Nah, this cannot happen, not in America! Well, that's exactly what happened when some providers, whether willingly, tricked or coerced, relinquished control of their servers and routers to the Vixie gang. The deeper we dug in our research, the scarier it becomes. We live in Orwelian times indeed.
Does this frighten anybody else? This feels like the makings of cyber-McCarthism. We're in danger of creating an unelected, quasi-governmental policy-making authority in cyberspace, one that's able to selectively disconnect, disenfranchise and ostracize any organization not recognizing its sovereignty. (James Kobielus, 1999)
In essence, Vixie and his followers control a tap capable to shut down at will the world-wide connectivity of anyone they so chose. The MAPS charity is likely a front, for Vixie's de-facto enforcement arm is his employer, Metromedia Fiber Network (NASDAQ:MFNX), their AboveNet Internet subsidiary, and their 'neutral' PAIX exchange.
Central control goes against the redundant and distributed architecture of the Internet. It is a cyberterrorist's ideal weapon, and our government sheepishly (or intently?) lets it happen.
Surely, they claim to have built all this elaborate machine only to stop spam. For your protection! They may have fooled many into believing that's all there is to it, but much of the smoke and mirrors screen falls apart under closer scrutiny.
Below, we look at several plausible motives behind the MAPS conspiracy.
It's not easy being an ISP. The profit margins are very small, and most Internet companies never made a dime. Lots of small ISPs had to fold when deep pocketed giants decided to corner the market. No rational investor would sink hard earned cash into becoming a new services provider these days, there are much better investment opportunities. Even Silicon Valley has fallen on hard times. And more recently, MAPS had to lay off half its staff to stay in business.
While economic pressures were the driving factor in market consolidation, they were not enough to drive some smaller competitors out of business. Or maybe not fast enough. So a bunch of would-be monopolists thought of other ways to limit the geographical coverage of providers that do not have a nation-wide dial-up network. What better way than to dictate email policy?
Hence reason number one for making open relaying 'politically incorrect'. What do they really want? Our customers.
A second economical objective is market advantage. Such as establishing the business model of Whitehat.com Inc, where Vixie sits on the board of directors, as the only 'legitimate' way to send out bulk email. As a matter of fact, the Whitehat board looks like the cash cow reward for suckling anti-spam activists (i.e., Ray Everett-Church and John Levine also got their cut).
Third, let's not forget Vixie's prediction that one day you 'will need to pay to transit email'. Pay him and his 'associates' a toll for the privilege of communicating!
This is a more subtle issue. For how do we know what Paul Vixie really thinks or believes in? Well, for starters, he tells us on his Vixie Enterprises web site that he believes 'Objectivism', the philosophy of Ayn Rand, is a worthy cause.
Objectivism rejects altruism. 'Laissez-faire' capitalism with no government intervention. Let dog eat dog. What do they really believe in? To serve their own self-interest.
HERE is a 'true parable' of Vixie's earlier (April 1996) beliefs in his own words:
When I was a child, it seemed to me that adults had unlimited power and I could hardly wait to grow up so that I, too, could live above the laws of man and of physics.
And HERE we find the fully grown-up Vixie, a mere year and a half later (December 1997), himself cast as a 'benign dictator' trying to take over YOUR corner of the universe:
And if I get back some horrified stare that says, `Paul you're going to be the next Hitler; you're going to take over the universe,' I'm pretty much expecting that I'm not going to tell them that their concerns aren't justified. I am as worried about this as I think is healthy, but I'm not willing, once again, to say, `Well, because concentrating power in the hands of one person has always been dangerous, we should not attempt what we're doing.'political
Perhaps the most important revelation was that some organization called the United Nations New World Order is headquartered in Vixie's offices, and the domain unnwo.net is used to control blackholed traffic. We also find CTO Paul Vixie and VP Dave Rand rubbing elbows at the corporate board table with David Rockefeller, a director of Metromedia Fiber Network, Inc. You heard the name: Rockefeller, the very billionaire founder of the Trilateral Commission, leader of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), and Bilderberg group member!
Any questions? We rather prefer you do your own research into the controversial practices of these organizations.
This may explain their actions as activism in implementing the New World Order agenda. What are they really after? Globalization, at the expense of your freedom and independence.
"Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Fuehrer." - Adolf Hitler
"One world. One truth. One reality." - The New World Order
It's no secret that Vixie and the MAPS vigilantes want to get sued. They have broken several laws, the most obvious one is conspiring to restrict trade.
There were five lawsuits filed against MAPS to date (Yesmail, Harris, Black Ice, Exactis, and Media3). Four were settled, the Black Ice case is still pending. It takes a substantial sum of money, time and effort to defend your rights in federal court. We are not surprised that most companies would rather submit than fight, especially because the Department of Justice lets it go on unchallenged.
Vixie knows this. He's likely counting on the government's hands-off policy and stated intent to let the Internet 'self-regulate'. What better opportunity for extortionate vigilantes such as MAPS to become the de-facto regulators?
Bluntly put, it's hard to imagine an American court of law saying that it's okay for any private party to become a censor by disrupting other providers' communications at will. But to test this, we likely would need to put a half million dollars cash on the table.
What is their declared goal? To gain legitimacy by establishing a legal precedent.
This one is pure speculation. But there are precedents: Communications Decency Act of 1996 (the CDA was later defeated in the US Supreme Court for containing unconstitutional provisions), Carnivore and ECHELON.
Let's say the government would like greater control over your electronic communications. They could come out and openly monitor (FBI's Carnivore program), wiretap, or sneakingly listen in (ECHELON). That is fine, as long as they know where you are, and which server you use. The way the Internet was originally set up, if one really wanted to remain anonymous and untraceable, one could get lost in the sauce.
Would a spammer peddling some pitiful wares go to all that trouble? Maybe, but there has to be some way to contact the vendor of the product, or visit the web site advertised, or respond to a dropbox, or send the make-money-fast huckster a buck, etc., otherwise the spam would be totally useless.
E-mail is much easier controlled and monitored if the user is confined to his/her provider's server. Spammers are a paltry minority compared with legitimate users of distributed networks. Whether from another account at work, while traveling, from an Internet cafe, friend's place, totalitarian regime country, hidden from the nosy boss, etc., users naturally want to be able to access and make full use of their accounts. They may also want, for a number of private reasons, to be able to send or receive communications on the Internet similar to using a public phone, rather than dial in.
Remote use doesn't happen through the ISP's local dial-in network, and such communications are tough to control and monitor. Hence the MAPS new and 'politically correct' way to stop message relaying and keep you where they can watch you...
Say some men wearing trench coats and sunglasses approached Vixie and suggested he mount this little MAPS front to change your 'bad' communications habits? Again, pure speculation. But it may, hypotetically of course, be a reason why the Department of Justice failed so far to act against MAPS blackholing with impunity selected parts of the Net at will.
Imagine the following scenario: Commandante Adelante invites some MAPS minion to his hacienda in Corteguay for a fat job offer. He wines and dines the lucky geek, then sends busty Senorita Conchita with his compliments and a discrete 'gift' to his quarters. While whispering sweet nothings in his ear, Senorita persuades the pimplefaced mapster to keep track of messages for Rebel Ariel, each of which are continuously checked against Vixie's blackhole lists by providers using MAPS.
¿Muy facile this job for you, right Senor? Imagine...
The point is, the statistical information gathered by MAPS from lame providers checking each message address against their database could be sorted and compiled in such way that it may be used against a competitor, sold to the highest bidder, draw certain inferences, etc. There are no laws in force that prevent Vixie et al from doing such things with the data they collect. How do you know they don't do it already?
Or bragging rights. To an egocentric maniac like Vixie, such things are important. He's better than you or me, he's always right, and God help the unfortunate soul that dares to dissent with any of his opininions in a public forum. He himself or his minions will tear debaters apart!
The image he projects or wants to be associated with is riddled with power symbols (i.e., Men In Black Hats/Helicopters; Whitehat.com; United Nations New World Order). The Bad, The Good, and The Ugly activist.
It's okay for Vixie himself to be a censor. It's okay for him to gain unlimited powers. It's self-interest above your interests. It's Objectivism a la Ayn Rand. It's dog eat dog...
Perhaps the best MAPS description ever concocted was 'Animal House with UNIX servers'.
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