Sunday, July 26, 2015


The internet is supposed to be a means of communication that can’t be blocked, censored, controlled.  It’s supposed to survive atomic bomb attacks and power breakdowns and all that disaster stuff.  But it can’t survive other human beings.  Without warning or even your knowledge, you can be blocked -- block-listed which is about the same as black-listed.  The first you’ll know is when people let you know (how? if you’re computer is blocked?) that they are getting bounced messages -- that is, their own message back with a long formulaic message appended to the beginning.

Or maybe you are blocked from sending.  Then you'll be notified. You won’t be told the real reason and you’ll have to scramble around to find out how to get unblocked so you won’t lose offers for contracts and requests to perform something remunerative.  (I write. Most publication is managed via internet.)

“An Internet Protocol address (IP address) is a numerical label assigned to each device (e.g., computer, printer) participating in a computer network that uses the Internet Protocol for communication. An IP address serves two principal functions: host or network interface identification and location addressing.”

There are a LOT of organizations who will interfere with your IP.  Find out what your IP is, then go to and enter it.  You’ll be told which of this list of IP controllers are blocking you.  There are also websites that will unblock you or evade blocking, but you are warned of dire consequences if you use them.  It's estimated that three MILLION IP's are blacklisted, blocked.  Exploring Google on the topic is revelatory.

My IP provider’s techies didn’t know about this until about three levels up.  (The newbies go by a notebook with the commonest questions, the more seasoned people have more info, and then you get to the truly initiated people who claim they don't know.)  Part of the problem is that they’re not supposed to tell you whether you’re on the block/black list because it sounds awful -- as though you did something illegal or immoral.  But it’s not really you who offended.  It’s a punishment administered to the whole IP, a form of hostage-taking and extortion.  It’s supposed to control SPAM and porn.  

3 Rivers originally announced this nanny function with great pride, as though it were a religious morality.  They signed up with "Barracuda."  One was allowed to choose the level of interference one wanted.  I said I didn’t want ANY.  But it would sneak back somewhere that I never looked.  I hate having to monitor the shenanigans of techies -- some techies tell me they feel the same way.

This sort of thing is low rent.  Professionals -- doctors, lawyers, ministers, professors -- don’t want any censorship because they are supposed to be thinking about everything, not just the part of the world that your IP provider approves of or rather, the monitor of your IP provider.  I’m living in the part of the world that is quite conservative, but my work and training are radically liberal.  

It’s a bit of a struggle to not be stigmatized, partly because much of my thought is against stigma as a social control that does enormous damage.  This changing world is terrifying (though I’ve stopped worrying about the bomb and am continuing to worry about the Cascade subduction zone that will take many beloved/despised places into oblivion which is part of the reason I live here) and those in power need more control -- they think -- so they press for more restrictions.  It is worrying that they like being secret, and are only possible because people are not educated and don’t have time to do more than listen to gossip.  

Some people evidently dedicate their lives to IT and IP issues.  For instance, as I explore around I see a petition to get rid of Microsoft Explorer because it is such an awkward and faulty search engine.  But I do NOT want to do more techie interaction than the constant twitches that any cybersystem needs in order to work.  I use my computer to WRITE and it’s enough for my poor old head to keep track of logic sequences, parallel sentence structure and unmixed metaphors.  I want to research religion in the time of Genghis Khan and what is happening to Aussie aborigines, not what all my “friends” are watching on Netflix or what they are all buying on Amazon.  (I mostly buy cat laxative.)

I find it offensive and insane to think that people who "like" a few paragraphs of mine can push a button and assume they are now my “friends.”  Friends are a category of duration, long-time interaction and a certain entitlement.  It’s a transparent gimmick to accumulate a lot of URL and IP numbers to be exploited.  It’s not different from a door-to-door salesman pushing into your house.

Here’s what Nate Simpson thought about SORBS and their demand that he send $50 to a nonprofit of their choice in order to get his block removed.

Where does SORBS get the power to block your IP?  Your provider signs up for the service, often sharing with other IP’s that they don’t control and which may have lower standards.  What does the FCC think about it?  I dunno.


From the unknown authors writing on Wikipedia.

The SORBS DNSbl project was created in November 2002. It was maintained as a private list until 6 January 2003 when the DNSbl was officially launched to the public. The list consisted of 78,000 proxy relays and rapidly grew to over 3,000,000 alleged compromised spam relays.

SORBS adds IP ranges that belong to dialup modem pools, dynamically allocated wireless, and DSL connections as well as DHCP LAN ranges by using reverse DNS PTR records, WHOIS records, and sometimes by submission from the ISPs themselves. This is called the DUHL or Dynamic User and Host List. SORBS does not automatically rescan DUHL listed hosts for updated rDNS so to remove an IP address from the DUHL the user or ISP has to request a delisting or rescan. If other blocks are scanned in the region of listings and the scan includes listed netspace, SORBS automatically removes the netspace marked as static.

Matthew Sullivan of SORBS proposed in an Internet Draft that generic reverse DNS addresses include purposing tokens such as static or dynamic, abbreviations thereof, and more. That naming scheme would have allowed end users to classify IP addresses without the need to rely on third party lists, such as the SORBS DUHL. The Internet Draft has since expired. Generally it is considered more appropriate for ISPs to simply block outgoing traffic to port 25 if they wish to prevent users from sending email directly, rather than specifying it in the reverse DNS record for the IP.

IP addresses that send spam to SORBS spamtraps are added to their spam database automatically or manually. In order to prevent being blacklisted, major free email services such as Gmail, Yahoo, and Hotmail, as well as major ISPs now implement outgoing anti-spam countermeasures. Gmail, for example, continues to get listed and delisted because they refuse abuse reports. However, smaller networks may still be unwittingly blocked. Because spammers use viruses, malware, and rootkits to force compromised computers to send spam, SORBS lists the IP addresses of servers that the infected system uses to send its spam. Because of this, larger ISPs and corporate networks have started blocking port 25 in order to prevent these compromised computers from being able to send email except through designated email servers.


To sum up all this jargon, SORBS are a privately created gate that only they control and impose on functions people believe are free and independent.  With the permission of the paid IP's of the user. They are doing the same thing that China does when it shuts down computer users it doesn’t like.  If China is doing it, I strongly suspect that the US is doing it.  

Three Rivers’ board of local business people are no match for that level of control over people’s lives.  If someone who has as few real “friends” as I do and whose work takes me in little essay loops through Blogspot and Medium every day, plus some Googling research, is finding myself blocked/blacked, what is this predatory throttling of messages doing to creativity and growth in a much bigger world?


Since posting this I've been block-listed three more times.

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