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Q: IP address/domain blocking ( Answered 2 out of 5 stars,   4 Comments )
Subject: IP address/domain blocking
Category: Computers > Internet
Asked by: digex-ga
List Price: $25.00
Posted: 12 Sep 2002 17:00 PDT
Expires: 12 Oct 2002 17:00 PDT
Question ID: 64457
Hello...I would like to know if there are any laws that govern
blocking of IP addresses or domains (for spam, abuse, etc.).  I am
specifically interested to know if you have to contact someone before
blocking their IP address or domain  I have a situation where my IP
address was blocked and prior to this I received no notification. I
want to know if this is legal.
Subject: Re: IP address/domain blocking
Answered By: maniac-ga on 12 Sep 2002 17:39 PDT
Rated:2 out of 5 stars
Hello Digex,

In general, no. You did not specify a country, but if you are
concerned about the United States, I am not aware of any such laws.
There are certainly laws currently in some US jurisdictions about
sending spam, but not about blocking spam. I can provide references on
these if desired.

This particular topic has gotten a lot of attention recently in a
variety of web based publications. For example:

Google and AltaVista blocked by China:

Linux Kernel Mail Server Blocked:

For a good background on spam blocking, there is a recent article as
part of the Linux Weekly News
which includes references to a number services and other articles on
line. I found the paper by Paul Graham particularly interesting in how
it describes elimination of spam by methods other than address

Please be aware that getting your address off of the various
blacklists is going to be hard and take patience. If you want some
suggestions on this - please indicate the blacklists involved in a
clarification request. You may also have to address the issue with
your Internet Service Provider - especially if someone is taking
action to get you removed based on a violation of the terms of service
for your ISP.


Request for Answer Clarification by digex-ga on 13 Sep 2002 13:17 PDT
Thank you for your response, but need more documentation than what you
have supplied.  You mentioned that you are not aware of any such laws,
however I feel confident that there are laws regarding IP address
blocking--I just can't find where they are posted.  I am not
interested in laws about blocking spam, as IP address blocking can
occur for other reasons.  So the bottom line is basically I need to
know what these laws are, as I feel confident they exist.

Hope this helps.


Clarification of Answer by maniac-ga on 14 Sep 2002 05:43 PDT
Hello Digex,

As you say, there are laws related to "address blocking" (or more
specifically blocking content) in number of jurisdictions. The
material I provided blocking performed in China was in reference to
actions that are certainly legal in China. As stated in the answer, a
number of references to content blocking - a few are listed below.

Perhaps the best reference on laws relating specifically to spam is
Note that there are no US national laws currently listed as applicable
and there are a number of laws currently being considered. Reading
through the summary at
all of these laws are focused on the sender of unsolicited email, and
do not impose regulations on blocking.

A general site on abusive network practices
In particular, note the very long article on the Supreme Court and
Commercial Speech
which has notes for specific cases. A few of these references indicate
that the Supreme Court has upheld that laws cannot prevent the
distribution of "truthful information". This would indicate that there
is likely no US law that would require blocking of IP address or
domains since that would block "truthful information".

A relatively low volume mailing list [spamfight-legal] is archived at
I read through a number of these messages as well - there are
references to specific cases and laws, but found nothing related to
restrictions on blocking.

Terms and conditions for "The Cloak", an anonymous web surfing service
which specifically indicates when address blocking may take place as
part of the abuse policy, but does not describe that they will contact
someone as required by law.

Please note that none of these references describe the need for the
organization establishing the content block to "contact someone before
blocking their IP address or domain". Others identify guidelines
established by an organization, but does not indicate that the rules
are required by law.

Please also note that the Supreme Court rulings appear to rule out
laws that relate to IP blocking in the US (as part of protecting
commercial free speech). As a result, further search on US federal and
state laws on address blocking will likely be fruitless. As I stated
before, if there is a specific jurisdiction (not US) you want searched
more extensively, please indicate in your clarification request.

digex-ga rated this answer:2 out of 5 stars
I feel the research was more opinion based, rather than the facts.

Subject: Re: IP address/domain blocking
From: bobthedispatcher-ga on 12 Sep 2002 21:26 PDT
Also remember that when blocking a domain, you block EVERYONE using
that domain, and when using IP Blocking, many ISP's use dynamicly
assigned IP addresses - the specific number may change with each
login. Blocking a range of addresses (111.222.111.***) may eliminate
thousands of unconnected individuals.

Also mail sent thru a webmail or online form may have the domain/IP of
the server, not the sender. One server could handle thousands of
websites, with millions of users and visitors.
Subject: Re: IP address/domain blocking
From: debbi-ga on 13 Sep 2002 23:10 PDT
Perhaps you are thinking about this:

The Which Company, trading as T3 Direct, alleges that Joseph John
McNicol of Southlake, Western Australia, is responsible for the
company landing on a black-list run by anti-spam website
The lawsuit claims more than $40,000 in damages for the black-listing.,7204,4423608%5E15319%5E%5Enbv%5E15306,00.html

Also of use to you may be:
Subject: Re: IP address/domain blocking
From: lot-ga on 14 Sep 2002 07:12 PDT 'blocks' all UK visitors and so do a few other U.S.
Some sites filter country content, which is effective in targeting
content, - but when in a foreign country and you want to read the
English version it's quite fustrating to be directed to the local
content which you can't read  :-S)
Subject: Re: IP address/domain blocking
From: cyclometh-ga on 21 Sep 2002 14:41 PDT
If you are referring to some person or entity simply having blocked
your IP address or addresses from accessing their systems, there are
no laws that I know of that would prohibit such activity. There has
also been no successful lawsuit (that I know of) against an entity
that maintains a "blacklist" of offending IP addresses, such as open
relays. Nor is there any prohibition that I know of against the
creation, maintenance or use of these blacklists.

The Internet is essentially a cooperative of private networks, and if
the operator of network "A" decides that he does not want traffic from
network (or system) "B" then there's very little that "B" can do about
it- at least in the US and, I'm relatively certain, most other

There is no prohibition against blocking IP addresses from accessing
anything on resources you control. If there were, it would probably
make firewalls illegal, which is obviously nonsensical.

There are laws in some countries that have been used to force blocking
of addresses, blocks of addresses or entire networks. One example is a
French court ordering that Yahoo! no longer allow access to Nazi
memorabilia auctions to French citizens. This case is currently still
being litigated, I believe.

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