The bullyboy tactic of Spamhaus

We all hate spam. We all believe that something should be done about it. And there is. Spamhaus is doing the job, but the way that they are doing it leaves a great deal to be desired.

A few weeks back we started to receive notices that our emails were being blocked by Spamhaus. We don’t send out spam. We use email to verify that our users are who they say they are, and to interact with our clients giving them advice about their HRV metrics.

When Spamhaus send a notice, they include a link that allows you to be delisted, and we did that. The first couple of times it worked. Then it didn’t. We queried why, and they said that we were in a “Bad neighbourhood”. In other words, there are users who share the same DNS server as we do, that do send out spam.

They said that our Web hosting provider needed to fix the issue.

So we contacted Ultahost, who saved us during our migration issues that I have written about before: HRV Health migration

They said that the best way to resolve the issue was to change the IP address of the server. We argued that this was a last resort, as it requires considerable reconfiguration of systems that access the server. They suggested a few other options, all of which would put us at the mercy of another layer of service providers, and would cost more money. So eventually we changed the server’s IP address.

At the beginning of this week the cycle started again. Our emails were being rejected by Spamhaus. We explained that we had changed IP address, and that we are running a legitimate business, that does not send out spam.

Ultimately, they told us that it is Ultahost that is the problem, and that we should have been more careful about choosing our host, and that we should “look before we leap”.

Given the problems that we experienced at the time when we did the migration, this comment is offensive. 

We replied that we are caught in a conflict between Spamhaus and Ultahost, and that we have become collateral damages as our business is destroyed.

Rather than help, Spamhaus sent a notice to our Web hosting service that we are black listed, and our mail server has been shut down completely. 

Ultahost says that we need to apply to Spamhaus for delisting, and Spamhaus says they will not delist without Ultahost’s co-operation. 

HRV Health is a company that is fighting against the scourge that is the unconstrained growth in healthcare costs. We do not deserve to be subjected to the bullyboy tactics that Spamhaus have adopted in the battle against spam.

The saga continues. Since writing this article, Ultahost suspended HRV Health’s email services without notice, and without providing any evidence of wrongdoing – in breach of their own terms and conditions.

We were forced to transfer to another service provider, repeating the issues that we experienced last year. Resolving the migrations issues is ongoing.

Having done all of that, Spamhaus still refuses to remove us from the listing:

Not only are we guilty by association, we are guilty until proven innocent – and Spamhaus is refusing to look at the evidence that proves our innocence. 

I have lived and worked in some of the most troubled countries in the world, including Afghanistan, Somaliland and Yemen to name a few. In those countries we have tried to convince the people and the governments that democracy and rule of law is a better solution. 

This example proves that it is not. Justice in western democracies is a myth.