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Sky.com email changes
is this illegal?

 11:12 am on Feb 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

I use sky as my broadband provider as part of a package, but....

Just recently they have changed the way that smtp email is sent..

you now have to authenticate the outgoing email..

except that regardless of what email address you use, they hijack the 'return path' only allowing you to reply to the @sky.com email address...

Apart from being the only broadband provider that does this, I'm thinking this must be illegal?

It means that now, no one can use their own email address and everything has to go through the @sky address..

I for one will now have to switch providers, can't put up with that, altough it is not a business email address I use, I do use my personal email for important business requests and having a lame @sky.com email just looks dodgy and unprofessional.

I can't imagine what they are thinking? surely that now means everyone who has their own personal email will have to, like me, stop using sky broadband.

I know there are other ways of using an outgoing smtp server but that costs more and having this service is standard with every other provider.

Taking the return email I have put in to my OE removing it and replacing it with their return path, that must be wrong? it must be illegal to hijack your personal email in this way?

Can anyone confirm this or have any thoughts..

[edited by: Lobo at 11:14 am (utc) on Feb. 9, 2008]



 6:40 pm on Feb 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

Since you don't say where you are, it's hard to say on the legal question - it will vary country by country.

But in most cases, an ISP has the right to set rules for use of THEIR servers. And the rules usually say "we can change the rules any time."

It sounds like this ISP has gotten serious about clamping down on spam. The only way to control outbound spam is to do just what they have done.

You can use an outside email service. If it's POP or IMAP-based, you may have to use an "alternate port" (if your ISP is also blocking email ports) and I would suggest encrypting in any case.

You may be able to get around the "real sender address" limitation by getting a "business" account, for which you will pay extra. It seems reasonable that this would cost extra, because of the extra volume that might be expected, the extra risk of having to deal with spam, and the extra costs involved should they have a spam case on a business account (it might be more difficult to track down).

Lord Majestic

 6:42 pm on Feb 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

It's legal (most certainly they never promised this exact functionality in T&Cs and even in this case they can change them) - but a highly stupid move on their behalf, at the very least they should have allowed subscribers to send mail with their own From: fields via ISPs server.

My advice - change ISP.


 8:03 pm on Feb 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

This is Sky UK

Well it doesn't say anything in their T&C's about giving out our information and details to an outside company.

And certainly nothing about ripping out my return path and sending it to another persons email address.

Which is what is happening, my partner is the person who pays the broadband we share, but as I have to use her user name as authentication, return mail is sent to her email address..

It seems to me to be like Royal Mail giving my letter to another company, who open my letter change the address on who to reply to and that person lives in another house.. nothing to do with me, not my address or indeed I don't even have access to it.

That is certainly not in their TOS...

Lord Majestic

 8:13 pm on Feb 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

Do you have a budget to fight them in court? I am talking about hundreds of thousands of pounds that you are unlikely to get back even if you win.

I am not saying that what they do is not dodgy or right - most certainly it is not right, but the matter of fact is that big companies in the UK can get away with a lot worse stuff (for started selling "unlimited" broadband when it is clearly limited big time), so the only effective means is using a decent ISP, which in my Sky isn't anyway: they are targeting mass market, so in all probability they don't want your custom anyway.


 9:22 pm on Feb 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

It seems to me to be like Royal Mail giving my letter to another company, who open my letter change the address on who to reply to and that person lives in another house..

Really depends on how you look at it.

From the company's viewpoint, perhaps it looks more like you rented a room for one, and there are two in residence...

Their server = their rules.


 10:34 pm on Feb 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

I get all that ..

I'm sure they have a raft of compliance lawyers that have said we can make a case that if twisted the way we want it can read we can do what we want..

Perhaps what I need is a case put in a language that allows someone like ofcom or some other ombudsman to be able to at least raise the issue.

secondly, a way to give it media attention.

and thirdly a way to reach people to get them to stand up and fight by realsing that all they need to do is protest by using their feet and leaving the ISP, get enough people to do that and strangely I'm sure they will revise that policy..

any ideas..

and do you agree there is a case.. given that to my knowledge there is no other ISP on the planet doing this.. with good reason..

Just to add : if you live in your house as a family and your dad pays for the broadband, his daughter emails to her secret boyfriend, sky and Google now rip out her return path and the boyfriends reply now goes to her dads email..! that is not right in anyones book.. rented or not..

[edited by: Lobo at 10:46 pm (utc) on Feb. 11, 2008]


 4:56 pm on Feb 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

Almost all ISPs provide multiple email accounts, precisely for this reason - so that different family members can each have their own email address, and/or so that you can have multiple email addresses in multiple "roles".

Does your ISP not provide this?

If not, this does seem rather inconvenient, and I would expect users to vote with their feet, which I think is the only vote or legislation needed here.

I realize that you want to use "your" email address, but is this to be elevated to a "right"?

If it is, it may be impossible to ever contain spam. On the other hand, it might force the industry to come up with an entirely new email system that supports both address portability and authentication.


 5:01 pm on Feb 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

It's good practice not to use the mailserver provided by your ISP anyway; I recommend you find an email provider which enables you to authenticate to their SMTP server for sending your outgoing email.

You can keep using sky.com for your internet access, unless they are blocking SMTP ports. If the latter is the case then there are ways around it; depending upon how technical you want to get.

Failing all of these options; use a web-based email account.


 5:03 pm on Feb 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

From your description:
Two mailboxes daughter@sky.com and dad@sky.com
Both under the account dad@sky.com
A message sent "from" daughter@sky.com, "reply to" daughter@sky.com
is arriving as
"from" dad@sky.com, "reply to" dad@sky.com

That would be totally out of order.

"from" dad@sky.com, "reply to" daughter@sky.com would be potentially embarassing but strictly correct.

I would guess that they do it to readily identify infected PCs used by botnets as the unsuspecting owner would get the bounces rather than the spoofed "from" address.


 5:54 pm on Feb 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

Yip that is what is happening.. isn't that outrageous..

accessing my mail ripping out the return path and changing it to someone elses..

There are ways round it, if I take one of the 10 @sky.com email addresses available, from my gf's account and set my email as the default address but even then the reply would be something like 'me@sky.com on behalf of me@myowndomain.com' which is still out of order, unprofessional and tacky. And I don't want to be forced in to taking an email account I don't want or will never use..

and then I have at least 6 other domain emails and would have to set up each account seperately ..

none of them are business accounts as such but a couple are personal hobby sites, I'm moderator on a couple of free forums and need to email users every now and then it's just laughable...

[edited by: Lobo at 5:57 pm (utc) on Feb. 13, 2008]

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