Anti-spammer fined for accessing DNS records of private network
Anti-spam activist David Ritz has been found guilty of trespass on a private DNS server and fined a total of $60,000 in a North Dakota civil court. The action was brought by Sierra Corporate Design, a Nevada internet service provider run by Jerry Reynolds, who has a history of porn spam activities. According to the ruling (PDF) released yesterday, the specific offences were conducting an unauthorised zone transfer on a DNS server belonging to Sierra on 27 February 2005 and subsequent "attempts to access Sierra's server" in contravention of the North Dakota Computer Fraud and Crime (CFC) statute.
The defence argued that DNS is a public service, and that successful access implies authorisation. However, the court rejected these arguments, asserting that a zone transfer command (e.g.
host -l) is solely intended for administrative management of DNS by authorised persons and systems. Therefore performing a zone transfer as an unauthorised outsider to obtain information that was not publicly accessible about the configuration of Sierra's internal network constituted trespass on Sierra's chattel. Furthermore, the court noted that Ritz has conducted a campaign of harassment against Sierra including mail bombing and UseNet "Death Penalties", and concluded that he has been motivated by malice. Ritz was also found in contempt of court for breaching a previously imposed restraining order in carrying out the acts in question. Ritz now also faces criminal action for the breach of the CFC statute.