The Spamhaus Project suffered a rare legal setback last month in Nebraska federal court where the court in DatabaseUSA.com LLC vs. The Spamhaus Project, No. 8:19-CV-423 (D. Neb. July 27, 2020) found that the plaintiff had been wrongfully listed on its Domain Block List (DBL).
The DBL lists domains that Spamhaus determines “are used in unsolicited bulk email including phishing, fraud, ‘419,’ or sending or hosting malware or viruses, as well as other domains with poor reputation due to many heuristics.” Spamhaus included DatabaseUSA on its DBL since November 2017. DatabaseUSA’s request to be removed by Spamhaus on the basis that it did not engage in any such conduct was denied without explanation, as the UK-based organization merely responded that “[w]e do not discuss criteria for inclusion in DBL, however, it includes many factors. Your domain matches several of those criteria.”
The Omaha-based DatabaseUSA sued in Nebraska federal court and obtained a default judgment against Spamhaus. While Spamhaus provided no substantive response and did not challenge the court’s jurisdiction, the Court expressly found that it could exercise personal jurisdiction over Spamhaus under the facts alleged.
The Court entered judgment for DatabaseUSA finding that Spamhaus had defamed DatabaseUSA and tortiously interfered with its business relationships by wrongfully listing it on the DBL. As a result, the court ordered that Spamhaus:
- Publish a statement, referring to this action by name and case number (i.e.,
DatabaseUSA.com LLC v. The Spamhaus Project, No. 8:19-CV423 (D. Neb), on its [DBL] website stating that DatabaseUSA.com LLC was wrongfully included on the blocklist from May 2017 until the date of this order; and
- If Spamhaus lists DatabaseUSA.com on its blocklist from and after the date of this order, it shall provide DatabaseUSA.com LLC with an explanation for doing so and an explanation as to how DatabaseUSA.com can be removed from the blocklist.
DatabaseUSA CEO Fred Vakili was pleased with the court result, explaining “Spamhaus’ arbitrary and unresponsive practices have created an unfair and hostile business environment. Their actions have, at times, even blocked our ability to do business with our own customers.” Spamhaus, however, has yet to comply with this order.