Yahoo turn a blind eye to the spammers in their midst...


This is what I posted to NZNOG a little while ago...

Learned NZNOGrs,

Some advice, please.

Recently an email address that comes to me was sent some Unsolicited Commercial Email from (apparently) a UK based outfit that sells (print) magazine subscriptions.

The headers contain this:

Received: from ( [])
by (Postfix) with SMTP id 8C508500D4
for ; Tue, 16 Oct 2007 12:02:52 +1300 (NZDT)

They contain additional Received: headers which would imply that Yahoo themselves received the message via SMTP from an AOL IP address that Traceroute implies is likely in the UK as well.

So I took a full-headers copy of the message and forwarded the complaint to the relevant abuse contacts for both Yahoo and AOL.

AOL, i've heard nothing (unsuprising). Yahoo, I had a response within 2-3 days which basically absolved them of responsibility, as follows:


Thank you for writing to Yahoo! Mail.

I understand your frustration in receiving unsolicited email. While we
investigate all reported violations against the Yahoo! Terms of Service
(TOS), in this particular case the message you received was not sent
through the Yahoo! Mail system.

Yahoo! has no control over activities outside its service, and therefore
we cannot take action. You may try contacting the sender's email
provider, by identifying the sender's domain and contacting the
administrator of that domain. The sender's provider should be in a
better position to take appropriate action against the sender's account.

The email message itself does contain some information relating to the
sender's identity. Yahoo! includes the originating Internet Protocol
(IP) address in the full Internet headers of all messages sent through
Yahoo! Mail, so that we will have information regarding the origin of
messages sent through our system. The originating IP address should be
located in the very last "Received" line of the full Internet headers
and corresponds to the sender's Internet Service Provider (ISP).

Please see the following URL for more assistance:

Once you have identified the IP address, you can conduct an IP lookup to
determine which ISP provides this person with Internet access. One such
lookup tool you may want to try is:

You can then attempt to contact that ISP to report any abuse activities
occurring within their service.

Please let us know if you still need assistance so I may assist you

Your patience during this process is greatly appreciated.

Thank you again for contacting Yahoo! Mail.



I responded back indicating my understanding as being:

- That my MTA received it from Yahoo, thus they relayed it...
- That headers below the line where my MTA actually is involved, are often untrustworthy...

I got a very-slightly-reworded version of exactly the same canned response back.

So despite the fact that the sender is very clearly using Yahoo for SMTP (which, one would hope, would establish the sender as a Yahoo! Mail customer), they're pleading ignorance and/or innocence.

Any other players had similar dealings with Yahoo (or other free mail providers) ? At what point can the provider realistically abdicate from responsibility when it comes to spam?

And the obvious question: Is it fair to expect more from them? Or am I resigned to accept either periodic junk relayed by Yahoo because they can't be held responsible for what individual customers do? (And because in this example, the collateral damage of blackholing them is probably unacceptable?