ISP And Contract Issues (was Re: Webone blocking port 25??)

Damien Elmes clug at
Fri Jul 26 13:39:17 EST 2002

Alex Satrapa <grail at> writes:

> If you can't configure your laptop to successfully use multiple dial-up
> connections, the problem lies in your expectations (and sysadmin skills),

Not at all. Changing the SMTP server is not exactly a huge task, but from what
I know there is not currently a tool to automatically do this depending on the
network you're connecting to (and being able to plug in to some arbitrary
ethernet port and get connected is a good thing. It is conceivable you are in
a location where you don't even know the requisite SMTP server).

> the ISPs configuration. If you drive a car or ride a motorcycle, you have to
> pay compulsory third party personal insurance. This is to protect other people
> (third party person) from your mistakes. 

The issue of devices in cars which limit them to the speed limit (based on
data from GPS system etc) has been proposed before. This is one way of
protecting 'the greater good' (the internet, the ISP, what have you) from the
individual. Except these speed limiters in cars have been widely opposed, on
both technical grounds (picture a 100k/hr highway with a 60k/hr road running
underneath it), and practical grounds (many people feel the extra speed could
get them out of a dangerous situation sometimes). They also can't compensate
for people who just drive recklessly. There comes a point where you actually
have to rely on an individual's competency and you can't regulate everything.

Now I accept the argument that the ISP needs to protect its best interests. I
am however saying that blocking the SMTP port is counter-productive in the
long run - viruses can extract the ISP's mail server from the user's outlook
settings and send that way. If virus checking software is imposed on the ISP's
SMTP servers, there will be legitimate use of the technology which causes
false alarms in the virus software resulting in inconvenience of the user.

> doing what they can to protect themselves from their client's mistakes. No ISP
> wants to end up on the RBL. No ISP admin wants to receive mail to the abuse@
> account. No ISP admin wants to have their ISP gain a reputation as being a
> breeding ground for Microsoft LookOut virii. If the ISP makes things easy for
> you, they're also making things easy for spammers and other morons.

So the ISP is basically covering its hide. It is a business, which is fair
enough. This thread originally insinuated that blocking the SMTP port was 'for
the good of the internet', however - which is an entirely different matter.

> Forced to choose between two eventualities, I would much rather lose my
> ability to send email for a day or two due to the ISP messing up their SMTP
> relay, than lose my ability to send email at all due to the ISP ending up on
> the RBL or other blacklist. Switching ISPs is not a task to be undertaken
> lightly.

Indeed. Which is why all this rhetoric about 'if you don't like it, go
elsewhere' is nonsense. [1]

> You demanding an ISP to remove its blocking of port 25 outbound is like a
> chemical company demanding the Government to remove their restrictions on
> dumping toxic waste into the Murray/Darling basin.

I never demanded anything. I am currently using Telstra, which, for all their
ineptitude, do leave the SMTP port open. I was lamenting the evils of doing
such a thing. You can speak all day if you like about the rationale an ISP has
for doing such a thing - but it's just a stop-gap solution which *will* be
circumvented by the next batch of viruses if it becomes common. And when that
happens, be prepared for another round of restrictions as people attempt to
solve the problem at the wrong end.

> As Sam has said previously - if you're not getting what you paid for, complain
> to your provider. If you're expecting to get something you didn't pay for,
> review your expectations.

See [1].

Damien Elmes

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