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Holomaxx doubles down

Holomaxx has, as expected, filed a motion in opposition to the motion to dismiss filed by both Yahoo (opposition to Yahoo motion and Hotmail (opposition to Microsoft motion). To my mind they still don’t have much of an argument, but seem to believe that they can continue with this.
They are continuing to claim that Microsoft is scanning email before the email gets to Microsoft (or Yahoo) owned hardware.

Holomaxx has sufficiently alleged that Microsoft intercepted and scanned the contents of Holomaxx!s emails ” in transit without consent by using Bayesian techniques and a collaborative filtration system before the emails reached Microsoft’s servers […]

Best I can figure Holomaxx seems to have convinced their lawyers that “Bayesian techniques” are some sort of magic, psychic filters that can look at packets on a wire and see what’s in them. This is so far from the truth as to be ludicrous.

Bayesian classifiers work by correlating the use of tokens (typically words, or sometimes other things), with spam and non spam e-mails and then using Bayesian inference to calculate a probability that an email is or is not spam.

A Bayesian filter is software. It has to run on hardware somewhere. Someone owns that hardware. In this case, it’s Micosoft and Yahoo.
I can see that Holomaxx is trying to get across that the filtering happens before the ISPs accept the emails. But this doesn’t mean the filters aren’t running on hardware owned by Yahoo or Microsoft. It is possible to content filter email during the SMTP transaction, often referred to as “on the wire.” But, in reality, the filters are still running on hardware owned by the recipient’s ISP. The receiver is just looking at the mail before it makes a decision whether or not to accept responsibility for delivering the email to the final recipient.
A new argument in this motion is that the emails were all confidential and that Holomaxx had a reasonable expectation that the mails would not be overheard or recorded. I’m not sure the advertisements Holomaxx has used as examples (Free HBO from Dish Network!) are actually confidential.  As a layperson I find it hard to see how this argument will work.
Holomaxx also doubles down on their argument that the MAAWG abuse desk best practices document is an objective industry standard.

Yahoo makes much about the fact that the MAAWG Abuse Desk Common Practices paper was from an October 2006 meeting. This is a mischaracterization of the document. The document specifically states that it was assembled with feedback received in sessions from three MAAWG meetings beginning in October 2006. (See Request for Judicial Notice submitted by Yahoo in support of MTD, Ex. 1.) The document was published in October 2007. (Id.) Regardless if it is 3 1⁄2 years old, no other set of practices have been promulgated by MAAWG or any other group concerning the topic of filtered emails. Until that happens, the MAAWG Abuse Desk Common Practices paper serves as the only industry guidelines or standard on that topic.

Once again, the document in question is not a standards document. Holomaxx conveniently ignores what the actual document is about: Abuse desk common practices. In many ISPs, abuse desks do not deal with blocking issues at all. The committee chose to comment on this because some abuse desks handle both inbound and outbound abuse. We’ll see what the judge says, though. I think that Holomaxx is taking the document totally out of context in order to demand, somehow, that their mail shouldn’t be blocked.
There is a hearing on both cases July 15th. I’m considering going down to the courthouse to listen in on the arguments.
Previous blog posts on the Holomaxx case:

1 comment

  1. Bob Mott says

    Comment from other blogs and posters…seems to echo the sentiment that Yahoo blocks mail for competitive reasons….
    “Sorry but I’m no Postfix guru so hopefully someone else can tell you the ‘how to’. All I can comment on is my experience with Yahoo. They are, to put it frankly, total knobheads when it comes to dealing with incoming mail they’d rather not get. As they gain the bulk of their revenue from advertisers (rather than paying email subscribers) they would rather find an excuse to reduce the cost of handling their huge volume of rejectable inbound mail than deal with it sensibly. Their revenue is derived from you logging into your Yahoo! mail and them pounding you with advertising that you might click on. They answer to their advertisers, not free and paying email subscribers. They would much rather send you a “defer” notice (which sounds temporary) not to cause backlash for what they are actually trying to do – Blacklist you permanently until you are assimilated by the Yahoo Borg. They have to do it that way ‘cos they lost most of their competent staff to Google when they started GMail and robbed Yahoo of their employees that passed the simple 2+2=4 test LOL”

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