Acceptable Use Policy

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Basic Internet Security
Privacy policy
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The Internet is a pervasive medium and it is relatively cheap and easy for unscrupulous users to become a problem.

The main problem is "spam", i.e. unsolicited bulk email or mass postings in inappropriate newsgroups; whilst many spammers think this is an innocent practice it would, if it became common, rapidly choke the net and prevent access to legitimate email. There are an estimated 20,000,000 people with things to sell. If 0.1% of them sent one message a month you would see nearly 1,000 unwanted messages per day. Since it costs these people almost nothing to send such mail they do so even if the return is very small.

Other problems, such as illegal, abusive, insulting or unwelcome email, come into a similar category: mail you do not want to see. We, in common with most ISPs, have implemented this AUP so that our users, at least, will not contribute to the problem.

2. Who must abide by this AUP?
Any AstroHOSTS customer. Any person using AstroHOSTS facilities such as websites and mailing lists. If a customer has more than one provider we will ask them to abide by these guidelines for both. for example: if you have a Web-site with us and cause a problem via another provider we will consider it as abuse.

Most reputable ISPs have a similar policy, and we depend on them to guide their users as they depend on us to guide ours.

3. What is acceptable?
We do not censor e-mail through our systems, nor do we read it (although you should be aware that while it is in transit mail administrators of any intermediate system could in theory read it). However we must take steps to ensure that our users' email does not become a problem to us or others.

The broad areas of acceptable use are:

  • That the communication be legal
  • That it does not interfere with the proper operation of the Internet or our servers
  • That it does not become a problem to others.

One specific type of email that is acceptable is argument and discussion. We do not consider holders of different opinions to be "a problem" and if they are posting in a public forum we will almost never take steps to limit such expression. If somebody complains about your posting in a public forum we will politely ignore it unless you are posting in the wrong place. If somebody complains about your email we will ignore it unless they have previously requested you not to contact them.

4. What is not acceptable
It is unacceptable to use our facilities in certain defined ways. The overriding principle is that you must not interfere with the legitimate use by others of the 'net, though illegal or fraudulent acts are obviously also included. The main categories are listed below:

4.1 Unsolicited Commercial E-mail (UCE)
UCE is the sending of mail to persons who have neither requested it, expressed an interested in receiving such mail (not simply an interest in the subject), or indicated by other means that they would like to see such mail. The most common forms are:

  • Pyramid Selling Schemes, (also illegal in many countries)
  • Multi Level Marketing (MLM) schemes
  • Advertising websites or services

Remember: most Internet users pay for their connections. Unsolicited email is cheap for the sender but costs the recipient money

4.2 Unsolicited Bulk Email (UBE)
This is the non-commercial version of UCE and is normally simply intended to annoy, though sometimes to spread opinions or beliefs in an aggressive way. Examples are:

  • Chain letters (in particular those that threaten dire acts if not passed on)
  • Political, religious or social views
  • Conspiracy theories and "crank" mail

This sort of mail can be very distressing

Note that UBE will not be tolerated even for good causes. Consider: if a few charities were to adopt UBE then all would have to do so - competition for funds is very strong. The resulting flood of mail would remove any benefit that the 'net might have for them by simple volume. We don't want to see this happen, and we regard the use of the net by charities, in particular organisations who support the free flow of information in and out of areas controlled by authoritarian regimes, to be a facility which worth defending.

4.3 - Mail Bombing
Mail bombing is the deliberate sending of either large numbers of e-mails, or single very large emails, with the intent of flooding a user's mail system. This has traditionally been a method of revenge by one user on another, but it is unacceptable to do so today.

Note that binary attachments can be very large and that sending these to a user without prior arrangement will probably be regarded as unfriendly. Posting binary files to newsgroups is only acceptable in groups that welcome them.

4.4 - Denial of Service attacks.
Denial of service is any activity which makes it difficult or expensive for a user to use a system, or which interferes with the operation of the net as a whole. These vary widely, but examples are:

  • Sending large amounts of data in mail or other connections, which is designed to flood the link
  • Making rapid or frequent repeated connections to the same service to hog its connections
  • Deliberately sending data known to cause problems

Denial of service can have a serious impact on the net and the reaction is likely to be harsh, and will formally involve police forces in several countries.

4.5 Forging your name or forging the headers in a message
This is an attempt to send a message in somebody else's name without their permission. This includes both simple text, such as signatures, and the forging of headers in mail or news messages to make a message seem to come from another source. The only exception is the use of mail relay where permission has been granted

4.6 - Forged Mailing List Subscriptions
You must not subscribe anyone, other than a user on your own host, to a mail list or similar service without their permission

4.7 - Illegal Content
Any web content, email message or news group posting of an illegal nature will be considered abuse and will be reported. We will suspend such sites or accounts as soon as they are reported or detected. The net is an international medium and we operate in many jurisdictions. We reserve the right to take this into account when determining "illegal" content even if no breach of English law can be said to have occurred. We specifically do not include French law, which imposes many unrealistic conditions on net
usage, particularly with regard to encryption.

4.8 - Breach of Copyright or Intellectual Property
You must not send Copyrighted material or Intellectual Properties via email or other means unless you have permission to do so from the owner or are using them under the terms of "fair use"

4.9 - Viruses and malicious software
Sending of viruses and malicious software is illegal. If you do it knowingly, or if you continue to do it after having been informed of the presence of a virus in your mail or system, we will report it.

4.10 - Misuse of newsgroups
When posting to a newsgroup you must conform broadly to its charter. Each group, however informal, will have a charter that describes acceptable use. Some newsgroups will have implied conditions of use which are expressed by a majority of its users. Either way you must not violate these conditions.

4.11 - Restricted websites without entry safeguards
Some websites contain content not intended for minors, or of a potentially offensive nature. In the case of material of a recognised adult content, (sex, violence and drugs being the most common), we ask that clients who maintain such sites register them with a screening organisation (e.g. Net Nanny). Note that this does not exempt such sites from normal legal process - site content must always be legal.

4.12 - "Offensive" Websites without entry safeguards
Sites where the content is simply contentious or offensive to some, should also indicate the nature of the material on the entry page, and provide a suitable warning. To put this into perspective: many of the most popular sites on the net fall into this category and we don't want to prevent people from doing this, we simply ask that you give your visitors the opportunity to back out.

Obviously this is a wide issue. In a net population in the hundreds of millions, somebody to will object to anything, but if we receive valid complaints about a site we will ask you to place an entry page on it, and possibly to register it with a blocking or rating scheme.

4.13 - New forms of Net Abuse
From time to time a new form of abuse arises which doesn't come under the above categories, but which is generally held by the Internet community to be an abuse of the Internet. If this is detected, and it is reasonable that it was not contained in the description above (either in detail or by principle) then we will amend these details, ask you to stop, and, normally, give you 14 days to comply.

If the new form of abuse causes a severe problem, is impacting our service, or is creating a major problem on the 'net, we reserve the right to ask you to stop at once and to enforce this request if necessary.

5. If you do not abide by these terms
We implement a sliding scale of sanctions that depend on the severity of offence. For very serious cases we will start higher up the scale

  1. We will ask abusers to stop what they are doing
  2. We will suspend email accounts
  3. We will suspend whole web-sites
  4. We will cease to carry the domains
  5. We will pass details to the authorities or police

If an account or Web-site is suspended we will sometimes ask or a specific undertaking before resuming service. In the case of abuse in a public forum this will normally include an apology in that forum. If an abuser fails to takes such steps as requested we will escalate the suspension.

In very severe cases we reserve the right to make public announcements that action has been taken, and in these cases we will include identification details and notify any appropriate authorities.

In all cases, you are liable for any costs or damages incurred by us as a result of any use you make of our facilities, and we will make no refunds in respect of any services suspended or cancelled as a result of a breach of these conditions.

6. Other ISPs
Our terms are similar to those in use by reputable ISPs the world over. You can generally expect that people you deal with will abide by these conventions. If they do not then in the first instance either use a spam reporting tool (see links, below) or send an e-mail to their postmaster or to the abuse address - normally <abuse@ispname>

We are happy to give advice if you are the target of abusive email

Please remember that a simple difference of opinion is not an abuse, neither are news articles or websites that you find objectionable or offensive. The net is a wide place and there are many different people and cultures. If you have a personal problem with things you find on the net there are many facilities for either preventing access or arranging not to see them.

7. Summary
Most of the terms in this document are simple common sense, a reasonable respect for the privacy of others, and a normal degree of courtesy. The Internet is a wide ranging medium but it is not just a collection of computers - there are real people at the end of email postings and real people read news groups. Treat them with normal consideration and there will seldom be a problem.

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