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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

My biggest motivation for creating my own blogs was to avoid the arbitrary censorship practiced by other blogs and various other Internet forums. Censorship will be avoided in my blogs -- there will be no deletion of comments, no closing of comment threads, no holding up of comments for moderation, and no commenter registration hassles. Comments containing nothing but insults and/or ad hominem attacks are discouraged. My non-response to a particular comment should not be interpreted as agreement, approval, or inability to answer.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

IP address blocking is illegal in California!

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Introduction:

IP addresses are widely misunderstood, even by Internet professionals -- otherwise IP address blocking would not be so widely practiced. I don't even fully understand IP addresses myself, and I have been studying them for some time. Here are the characteristics of IP address blocking:

(1) It is often completely ineffective.

(2) Even where it is initially effective, it can often be defeated by stealthy countermeasures such as email forwarding services and anonymous proxies (e.g., www.hidemyass.com).

(3) Collateral damage: It usually results in the unintentional or wanton blockage of a large number of Internet users in addition to the intended blockee.

IP addresses and IP address blocking:
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Some IP addresses are "static," i.e., they don't change with time, and others are "dynamic," i.e., they change each time an Internet user logs onto the Internet. Different Internet service providers have different setups. For example, on AmericaOnline, my computer is assigned a different dynamic IP address each time I log on, and this address is used to communicate with an AOL "proxy" server which then sends the recipient a "static" IP address (this address actually changes infrequently) along with my message. So my IP address that the rest of the Internet sees is the AOL proxy's static IP address, even though my computer's local IP address is dynamic. So blocking my IP address blocks a lot of AOL users who share the same AOL proxy. Members of some ISP's use a dynamic IP address to communicate directly with the rest of the Internet, and they are sometimes blocked by blocking a whole range of IP addresses, which of course also blocks a lot of other Internet users. There are about 4.3 billion numbers available on the current IP version 4 (there is also a new IP version 6), which is a small number in terms of the size of the Internet, so I suspect that maybe the only Internet users who have their own unique static IP version 4 addresses for communicating directly with the Internet are those who rent them.

Besides often unintentionally blocking a whole bunch of Internet users, IP address blocking is often ineffective. For example, blocking a single IP address won't work when a dynamic IP address is used for direct communication (also, some "static" IP addresses -- e.g., the IP address of my AOL proxy -- change occasionally). Also, blockage of IP addresses can sometimes be defeated by using "anonymous" proxies, e.g., www.hidemyass.com. I used anonymous proxies to post comments on Panda's Thumb for several months after I was "banned" there -- however, PT found a way to detect anonymous proxies, so they stopped working.

My blog has several articles about IP address blocking in post label groups titled "Internet censorship" in the sidebar of the home and archive pages. Originally there were two post label groups named (1 of 2) and (2 of 2), but I added a third group labeled (new #1). I kept the original names on the first two groups to ensure that old links to those groups would still work.

I have already shown that IP address blocking is illegal in the UK and is contrary to government policy if not illegal elsewhere in Europe -- see here and here. Now I have discovered that IP address blocking is illegal in California too!

IP address blocking is banned by California Penal Section 502

Below are relevant portions of California Penal Code Section 502, "Unauthorized Access To Computers, Computer Systems and Computer Data":

(b) For the purposes of this section, the following terms have the following meanings:
(10) "Computer contaminant" means any set of computer instructions that are designed to modify, damage, destroy, record, or transmit information within a computer, computer system, or computer network without the intent or permission of the owner of the information. . They include, but are not limited to, a group of computer instructions commonly called viruses or worms, which are self-replicating or self-propagating and are designed to contaminate other computer programs or computer data, consume computer resources, modify, destroy, record, or transmit data, or in some other fashion usurp the normal operation of the computer, computer system, or computer network.

The sender of information over the Internet is the "owner" of both the information and the IP address attached to the information. The practice of IP address blocking "records" the IP address and "destroys" the information in the message "without the intent or permission of the owner of the information," and "usurp[s] the normal operation of the . . computer network." Software designed to record IP addresses and use them to block messages is thus a "computer contaminant" according to the above definition.

Also, there are these other provisions:

(c) Except as provided in subdivision (h), any person who commits any of the following acts is guilty of a public offense:

- - - - - -

(2) Knowingly accesses and without permission takes, copies, or makes use of any data from a computer, computer system, or computer network, or takes or copies any supporting documentation, whether existing or residing internal or external to a computer, computer system, or computer network.

- - - - - - -

(4) Knowingly accesses and without permission adds, alters, damages, deletes, or destroys any data, computer software, or computer programs which reside or exist internal or external to a computer, computer system, or computer network.

- - - - - - - -

(5) Knowingly and without permission disrupts or causes the disruption of computer services or denies or causes the denial of computer services to an authorized user of a computer, computer system, or computer network.

(6) Knowingly and without permission provides or assists in providing a means of accessing a computer, computer system, or computer network in violation of this section.

(7) Knowingly and without permission accesses or causes to be accessed any computer, computer system, or computer network.

(8) Knowingly introduces any computer contaminant into any computer, computer system, or computer network.

(d) (1) Any person who violates any of the provisions of paragraph (1), (2), (4), or (5) of subdivision (c) is punishable by a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or by imprisonment in the state prison for 16 months, or two or three years, or by both that fine and imprisonment, or by a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars ($5,000), or by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment.


IP address blocking misuses IP addresses for something other than their intended purpose. Hence, IP address blocking "disrupts or causes the disruption of computer services or denies or causes the denial of computer services to an authorized user of a computer, computer system, or computer network." For the following reasons that I described above, it is obvious that IP addresses are intended for the purpose of making communications only and not for blocking communications:

(1) Many IP addresses that are received in messages change each time the original sender logs on to the Internet, i.e., they are "dynamic" addresses rather than "static" addresses. Such dynamic IP addresses are either impossible to block or can be blocked only by blocking a whole range of addresses, which of course is going to block a lot of Internet users, not just the intended blockee.

(2) Often, many Internet users share an ISP proxy that has a static IP address or a semi-static IP address that changes infrequently. Hence, blocking such IP addresses is going to block a whole bunch of Internet users and won't block the intended target if his IP address changes.


Well, what about the use of "spam filters" to filter out emails according to certain criteria, e.g., the senders' email addresses, the senders' email address domains, and keywords/phrases? By the above reasoning, isn't that also a violation of California Penal Code Section 502? Technically speaking, yes. However, there are some important differences between email spam filters and IP address blocking:

(1) Unlike spam filters, IP address blocking is often used for the unconstitutional practice of arbitrary censorship of comments submitted for posting on blogs and other websites.

(2) Spam filters do not necessarily automatically delete filtered emails but sometimes just divert them to a spam file (also called "folder") where they must be manually deleted. AOL considers email filtering by means of keywords/phrases to be so unreliable that the AOL spam filter does not offer an automatic deletion option for emails filtered out in this way, even when the keywords/phrases are user-chosen -- emails filtered out in this way are diverted to a spam folder where they must be manually deleted or saved. However, the AOL spam filter does offer an automatic deletion option on emails filtered according to senders, including emails filtered out by domain names (the domain name is the part of the email address after the "@" sign) and emails from senders that are not in special lists. Of course, filtering done by IP address blocking can use spam folders instead of automatic deletion, but IP address blocking is so unreliable and does so much collateral damage that it should not be used at all.

(3) Spam filters can target a particular sender whereas IP address blocking usually unintentionally blocks a whole group of senders who share the same ISP proxy address or range of addresses. However, a spam filter could also block a whole domain of senders.

(4) Email addresses are always visible to Internet users. In contrast, IP addresses are "transparent" -- i.e., they are normally invisible, like glass that you can see through but cannot see -- and are not intended to be seen or used by inept Internet users who are not even aware that IP addresses should not be used for blocking or filtering messages.

At the very least, any blocking or filtering of communications -- if done at all --should be done only at the end-user level. That is supposed to be the policy of the hypocritical Electronic Frontier (Fraud?) Foundation, but an unscrupulous EFF staff attorney, Kevin Bankston ( bankston@eff.org ), threatened to prevent my emails from reaching their EFF addressees.

In other words, in California it is no more legal to block IP addresses than it is to rob mail from the US postal service.
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Labels:

10 Comments:

Blogger Rob Serrano said...

Sorry to have to be the one to tell you this Larry, but WRONG!

Even the sections of the Penal Code that you cite don't support your position, although that's generally a given with your inability to actually understand the technology you use.

The penal code in question deals with Unauthorized use of a another's computer resources (internet bandwidth, storage, CPU cycles, etc.). It is specifically meant to address Zombie-trojans, DOS attacks and the like. As the owner of my computer and its resources, whatever I decide to do with their bandwidth, storage or CPU cycles is legal for the purposes of this law.

As the owner and administrator of my computer resources, it is well within my rights to block any IP address I decide I don't want to have any contact. Your machine isn't affected by this blocking except that you don't get to communicate with my computers, so there is no violation of the law. There is, in fact, as has been pointed out to on numerous occasions, ANY law ANYWHERE that prohibits me, or anyone else, from blocking IP addresses for making inbound connections into my network. Again, big goose-egg for Larry of the extremely self-serving law interpretation society.

However, though, using proxies (some of which may be zombies), mail-forwarding services and the like in a desperate attempt to bypass filtering that has been imposed upon you, thereby illicitly forcing me and my computers to waste our resources dealing the dreck could place YOU in violation of this law, Larry.

Oh, and so you're finally admitting that your anonymous proxies aren't as undefeatable as you tried to make them out to be. Glad you finally admitted that I was right in the first place.

Saturday, June 02, 2007 12:12:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Pettifogger Rob Serrano says --
>>>>>> The penal code in question deals with Unauthorized use of a another's computer resources (internet bandwidth, storage, CPU cycles, etc.). It is specifically meant to address Zombie-trojans, DOS attacks and the like. <<<<<

Show me where it says all that in the law.

You are just like Fatheaded Ed Brayton, who kicked me off his blog permanently because my literal interpretation of a federal court rule was not consistent with his preconceived idea of the purpose of the rule.

Also, the Supreme Court said that someone invoking a law need not show that the law was intended to benefit him. I wish I had the citation but can't find it because I don't have access to a good legal search engine like Westlaw. Kevin Vicklund, where are you now that I need you? I think that Kevin went into hiding when I asked him if he made the same mistake I made: assuming that one of Hector's posts was a response to him. Anyway, this Supreme Court ruling might not apply as a general principle to state laws, but maybe it could. And state courts could adopt the same principle.

>>>>>>> As the owner of my computer and its resources, whatever I decide to do with their bandwidth, storage or CPU cycles is legal for the purposes of this law. <<<<<<

The Internet is not private. What you do with Internet communications is subject to laws and regulations.

Also, as I previously pointed out, IP address blocking is illegal in the UK and could be illegal elsewhere in Europe -- see here and here.

>>>>> As the owner and administrator of my computer resources, it is well within my rights to block any IP address I decide I don't want to have any contact. <<<<<<

As I pointed out, IP address blocking is often ineffective and can do a lot of "collateral damage" by unintentionally blocking large numbers of Internet users. Only a fool would try to use IP address blocking.

>>>>>> However, though, using proxies (some of which may be zombies), mail-forwarding services and the like in a desperate attempt to bypass filtering that has been imposed upon you, thereby illicitly forcing me and my computers to waste our resources dealing the dreck could place YOU in violation of this law, Larry. <<<<<<

Wrong. Email-forwarding services and anonymous proxies are perfectly legal. And with high-speed connections and cheap storage, "waste" of resources is a non-issue. This blog's blog service, Blogger.com, is free but has virtually unlimited storage space per blog. I saw a 400 gigabyte hard-drive on sale for only $100 -- that's just 25 cents per gigabyte.

>>>>> Oh, and so you're finally admitting that your anonymous proxies aren't as undefeatable as you tried to make them out to be. Glad you finally admitted that I was right in the first place. <<<<<<

No, I am not admitting that. There are supposed to be anonymous proxies called "high-anonymity" proxies that are supposed to be undetectable, but I haven't found any yet. One reference says,

Is it clear to the websites that you are surfing through a proxy? This is a separate idea: your IP address is not visible to them but they still can tell that you are not an ordinary Internet surfer. There are certain "headers", pieces of information, which a proxy server sends to websites to inform them that the connection is made by a proxy. Proxies are not required to include such information for technical reasons, it is just a general convention, so the proxy servers differ in the way they inform the website about themselves. Very few proxies send no information about the fact that they are proxies.

As I said, PT found out how to detect the anonymous proxies that I was using, so they stopped working.

Anyway, I don't understand why any anonymous proxies would identify themselves as such -- that defeats one of the purposes of anonymous proxies. Merely hiding my IP address does no good for me if the proxy's anonymity is detectable. "Hide my ass" means hide my ass, not see-through BVD's.

Also, the "static" IP address of my AOL proxy changes occasionally, so bloggers cannot permanently block me by means of a single IP address but need to use a range of IP addresses, which of course would increase the "collateral damage" of blocking large numbers of other Internet users. AOL makes its members especially vulnerable to IP address blocking by using static or semi-static IP addresses instead of dynamic IP addresses for its proxies. AOL has a range of IP addresses and so should assign a different proxy IP address to an AOL member each time that member connects to the Internet.

I really get a kick out of using electronic countermeasures to defeat arbitrary censorship of blog comments. I think that I will return to my practice of midnight spamming raids on blogs -- that way my comments will usually remain on the blogs for a long time before being detected and deleted (though unfortunately the middle of the night is not prime time).

BTW, what happened to our little "debate" on the thread under the "Electronic Frontier (Fraud?) Foundation two-faced about 'spam' emails" post? You quit after my first rebuttal.

Saturday, June 02, 2007 8:22:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Whether or not IP address blocking should be illegal, it is just plain stupid. So making it illegal just saves people from their own stupidity.

Saturday, June 02, 2007 9:21:00 AM  
Anonymous Voice in the Urbanness said...

>... who kicked me off his blog permanently because my literal interpretation of a federal court rule ...<

How many times a day will you repeat that lie? It only shows you to be an idiot.

> I think that Kevin went into hiding when I asked him if he made the same mistake I made <

Why would he? He is not the one who made and ass out of himself. You did. It is more likely that he has important things to do and reading your blog has never been important.

> The Internet is not private. <

> As I pointed out, IP address blocking is often ineffective and can do a lot of "collateral damage" by unintentionally blocking large numbers of Internet users. <

Then why do you care so much about it? Only a fool would try to work around IP address blocking.

> Email-forwarding services and anonymous proxies are perfectly legal. <

It would be far more reasonable to outlaw them than anything you ever proposed.

> I think that I will return to my practice of midnight spamming raids on blogs <

You are inviting midnight spamming raids on your own blog?

> BTW, what happened to our little "debate" on the thread under the "Electronic Frontier (Fraud?) <

He won it.

Saturday, June 02, 2007 9:49:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

ViU drivels,
>>>>>> I think that Kevin went into hiding when I asked him if he made the same mistake I made <

Why would he? He is not the one who made and ass out of himself. You did. It is more likely that he has important things to do and reading your blog has never been important. <<<<<<<

You stupid fathead, Kevin was one of the most prolific commenters on this blog and then he clammed up when I asked him a simple question that just takes a yes or no answer.

>>>>>> BTW, what happened to our little "debate" on the thread under the "Electronic Frontier (Fraud?) Foundation"?<

He won it. <<<<<<<

That shows that you know nothing about the rules for formal debate, ignoramus. Debates are not won until after there have been replies to rebuttals. In formal debates, contestants often have opportunities to make several replies to rebuttals -- Serranos did not make a single reply to my rebuttal. Here, for example, is the order of speeches for the Vermont Debate and Forensics League:

ORDER OF SPEECHES:
First affirmative constructive speech 8 minutes

Cross-examination of first affirmative by either negative speaker 3 minutes

First negative constructive speech 8 minutes

Cross-examination of first negative by either affirmative speaker 3 minutes

Second affirmative constructive speech 8 minutes

Cross-examination of second affirmative by other negative speaker 3 minutes

Second negative constructive speech 8 minutes

Cross-examination of second negative by the other affirmative speaker 3 minutes

First negative rebuttal 4 minutes (novice) or 5 minutes (varsity)

First affirmative rebuttal 4 minutes (novice) or 5 minutes (varsity)

Second negative rebuttal 4 minutes (novice) or 5 minutes (varsity)

Second affirmative rebuttal 4 minutes (novice) or 5 minutes (varsity)

Preparation time during the rounds shall be 8 minutes total for each team to be used in portions as needed before a team's next speech, but not before a cross examination.

Saturday, June 02, 2007 11:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Voice in the Urbanness said...

> You stupid fathead, Kevin was one of the most prolific commenters on this blog and then he clammed up when I asked him a simple question that just takes a yes or no answer. <

You pathetic moron. Kevin has gone long times between posts in the past. He has a life and your blog is likely the least important part of it.

> That shows that you know nothing about the rules for formal debate, ignoramus. <

That shows that you know nothing about formal debate. There was no need to reply to your "rebuttal". It made no sense.

> In formal debates <

This was not a formal debate asshole. How sophomoric!

Saturday, June 02, 2007 12:04:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>>> You pathetic moron. Kevin has gone long times between posts in the past. <<<<<<<

You profoundly retarded nincompoop, Kevin conveniently decided to go on vacation just when I asked him an embarrassing question.

>>>>> That shows that you know nothing about formal debate. There was no need to reply to your "rebuttal". It made no sense. <<<<<<

If my rebuttal made no sense, that means that I was an easy target. So Serranos missed a big opportunity to attack an easy target. That's not very smart.


>>>>> This was not a formal debate asshole. <<<<<<

You just said that it was a formal debate: "That shows that you know nothing about formal debate."

I never said that it was a formal debate. I was just using the rules of formal debate as a basis for comparison because I have no other basis.

Saturday, June 02, 2007 6:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Voice in the Urbanness said...

> Kevin conveniently decided to go on vacation just when I asked him an embarrassing question. <

You pathetic Bozo. The question was only embarrassing to you. Any sane person (which of course excludes you) would know his answer.

> If my rebuttal made no sense, that means that I was an easy target. <

Sometimes the best way to show your lunacy is to let your own words speak for you. Seranno is very smart to do this.

> I was just using the rules of formal debate as a basis for comparison because I have no other basis. <

You rarely have any basis for anything you bleat.

Saturday, June 02, 2007 8:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Remote-Backups with Webaccess said...

IP address blocking is a necessity if the person misuses or manipulates data of utmost importance or causes damage which is deemed to be sufficient enough to block that IP address.In all other cases,banning an IP address is not necessary in my opinion.California is a place to reckon with mate.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008 11:44:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

IP address blocking is illegal and often ineffective.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008 12:07:00 AM  

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