Acceptable or Unacceptable?  What Constitutes Abuse of Service?

Proper Internet use is generally a matter of common sense and courtesy to others. The vast majority of people will be able to use their own sense of what is appropriate to guide their behaviour and will conform to this Usage Policy without even thinking about it.

We respect the privacy of our clients. There is no 'Big Brother' monitoring by First-Web and this page relates only to circumstances when our attention has been drawn to harmful activities which could affect our ability to look after our clients' interests.

There are many forms of service abuse. This page discusses the more common forms, but is by no means an exhaustive list, and indeed it is most likely impossible to compile a complete list of abusive activities. This policy document is provided to give some guidance as to what First-Web will consider to be service abuse. In matters where there is dispute as to whether abuse has occurred, any decision made by First-Web will be final.

It is usual in this context to describe "abuse" as being abuse of Internet facilities, rather than common abuse sent via the Internet. To qualify as "abuse", an act must interfere with the use of the network by an individual or group of individuals, for example by consuming resources or wasting others time including the time of First-Web staff spent in tracking activity which may be viewed as abusive. The term "abuse" also includes activities that are illegal.

The Internet community's definition of what is 'acceptable' has changed over the years, and will no doubt continue to change. A dramatic example of this change is the increase in unwelcome bulk unsolicited email ('Spam').

This policy document and its day to day application is based on the formal and informal practices of the Internet community, a community where First-Web is one participant amongst many. We reserve the right to amend this guidance document at our sole discretion and without prior notice.

Our policy on bulk email
Email servers can be Blacklisted (i.e. rendered unable to send email to certain other email servers) as a result of multiple complaints from recipients of bulk email. We use such screening Blacklists ourselves. If it is First-Web's clients who have sent the offending bulk email, then it is First-Web's email servers which may be Blacklisted. Obviously we need to take steps to prevent this happening, so we do not permit:

Sending to a group of recipients email which might be considered by a recipient to waste their time and resources.

To avoid the above, you must operate a policy for your mailouts which conforms to The Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003. A mailing list must be properly maintained by providing at the time of each communication a means for subscribers to opt out (in other words to change their mind), and by checking replies and non-delivery reports carefully in order to remove obsolete email addresses. If you send email which results in an email server becoming Blacklisted, we may regard this as evidence of lack of an effective policy.

We do not permit sending bulk email (i.e. sending similar emails in an automated way to multiple recipients) through our standard email servers. If you wish to send more than one hundred bulk solicited emails per day, please contact us for details of our bulk servers which are better suited to this purpose and to avoiding disruption to your day to day email (and that of our other clients!)

First-Web's services may not be used for any of the following:-

1) 'Make Money Quick' schemes, Chain Letters, Pyramid Selling schemes, Unsolicited Email
Unsolicited emails seem to be the biggest single source of annoyance to our clients. These emails waste the resources of Internet Service Providers and users who download the messages. Since many Internet users use a dial-up connection and pay for their online time, it costs them money to receive messages. Receipt of such messages therefore costs them money and is often therefore particularly unwelcome, particularly if the email has attachments.

It should be noted that a user has not expressed an interest in receiving this kind of message by the mere act of posting a news article in any particular newsgroup, or by visiting a web site, unless of course they have made a specific request for information to be sent to them.

2) Unsolicited Email (including non-commercial and non-bulk)
As noted above, unsolicited emails seem to be the biggest single source of annoyance to our clients. Due to the time taken to download it, sending a long email to sites without prior agreement can amount to denial of service, or denial of access to email at the receiving site. Note that adding binary attachments to email may increase its size considerably. If prior arrangement has not been made, the email may be extremely unwelcome.

It cannot be over-emphasised: receiving unsolicited emails, of any sort, is likely to annoy people!

 3) Forged headers
This includes disguising or attempting to disguise the source of messages.

4) Domain masking
This includes disguising or attempting to disguise the source of websites using what is sometimes called 'URL masking' or 'cloaking'.
(Please also note that we will not host services without also controlling the associated domain name or names.)

5) Denial of Service
Denial of Service may result from any activity that prevents machines or users on the Internet making full and effective use of its facilities. This includes, but is not limited to:-
• Mail bombing an address in such a way to make their Internet access impossible, difficult, or costly;
• opening an excessive number of email connections to the same host;
• intentionally sending email designed to damage the receiver's systems when interpreted; for example, sending malicious programs or viruses attached to an email;
• polling an email server excessively.

Checking an emailbox with excessive frequency may be seen as a Denial of Service attack, resulting in your connections being blocked. (Interestingly, it may also prevent you receiving or sending email if the time taken by your email client to check your email exceeds your polling interval. This situation can easily arise if you leave a copy of your messages on our server and poll your emailbox too often.)

We suggest five minutes as a minimum time to leave between polling sessions.

6) Mail relay
This means using an email server to forward your messages without authorisation to do so.

7) Sending oversize email
Please note that we permit a maximum message size of 20MB (megabytes). This allows our authorised users to send solicited emails in reasonable quantities for commercial purposes. But remember that customers who connect using dialups will probably find 20MB unacceptably large to download and read!

8) Remote Scanning
You may not run "scanning" software which accesses remote machines or networks, except with the explicit permission of those responsible for them.

9) Compiled Executable Content
We are unlikely to permit compiled executable code supplied by our clients or by their suppliers to be run on our systems.

10) Illegal activities
By law, it is illegal to possess or transmit certain types of material. We do not allow use of our services for the creation or transmission of any illegal images, data or other material, or any data capable of being resolved into illegal images or material.

11) Unauthorised disclosure
Where security credentials such as usernames and passwords have been supplied by First-Web for your use, these must not be disclosed to third parties without our explicit permission.

12) Disruptive activities
We cannot tolerate activities with any of the following characteristics:
• likely to waste First-Web's staff effort or First-Web's networked resources;
• corrupting or destroying other users' data;
• violating the privacy of other users;
• disrupting the work of other users;
• using First-Web's services in a way that denies service to other users (for example, overloading access links or of switching equipment);
• continuing to use an item of software or hardware after First-Web has requested that use cease because it is causing disruption to the correct functioning of First-Web's systems;
• other misuse of First-Web's services or networked resources, such as the introduction of "viruses".

Where First-Web provides access to another network, the Usage Policy of that network should also be respected.

Our response to Service Abuse
It is very important that we take action when serious abuse occurs. Failure to do so might jeopardise our ability to continue providing quality services to our other clients.

In exceptional cases education, in the form of a verbal or email warning, can be the most appropriate response to a first offence, since people can occasionally be genuinely unaware of contemporary standards. However, we will terminate the accounts of any client who continues with abusive activities after having been warned about such activity.

First-Web will enforce appropriate sanctions against any of its clients who are responsible for serious abuse. Such sanctions may include, but are not limited to, suspension of email access through First-Web's resources, suspension of access to the Internet through First-Web, or termination of the client's account(s) without refund of monies paid.

You should also review the following policy links:

Privacy Policy
•  Payment Terms
•  Conditions of Service