Moral Authority

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From: Gregory Alan Bolcer (
Date: Tue Feb 22 2000 - 10:16:44 PST

What is the moral authority of arbitrary middle relay servers to
stop private correspondence? On the net, servers can reroute packets
according to downtime, etc, but can they arbitrarily hijack it? Further
can they arbitrarily hijack it with no recourse? On their site they state:

> You do not have the right to block my mail.
> We believe that we are operating legally, under United States legal precedent. The machines that
> subscribe to our filtering service are privately owned and operated. As such, we are within our legal rights
> to restrict what traffic passes through these machines, in the same way that private delivery services (such
> as FedEx) have restrictions on what they will deliver for you.
> Internet Service Providers do not currently fall under common carrier status, and as such, we are not
> compelled to deliver data that doesn't fit our criteria (such as junk e-mail).
> The AOL Legal web site is a great place to learn about how the law applies to private networks. Of note is
> the article where the court establishes that private network service providers are not common carriers, and
> the article that establishes that marketers do not have a first amendment right to send unsolicited
> advertising via electronic mail.

Is there a legal sufficiency? This is a test applied often enough in other legal cases
that a company
or service can't be discriminatory if the user has equal access. For instance, they claim
they are a private network, but does a typical end-user have a choice whether or not to use
their network when sending an email where the routing information is not determined by

Is there equal access to non-filtered email service? Do individual users
have the right to opt in or out of this intermediary mail filtering? Is the broad IP
filtering sufficiently
precise to put this policy into practice? They claim they aren not legally compelled to
deliver mail that
doesn't fit their criteria, however, I would like to read their terms of service.


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