AntiM wrote:When in doubt, I usually just ask. When it looks like spam or a spambot attack, I report and delete.
In the case of a spambot attack, one does have another perhaps obvious option. While the IP address, in the case of dynamic ip won't be any guarantee of who is who, and correlations are unlikely to be anything but spurious because IPs are assigned randomly by ISPs using dynamic IP, ISPs do keep logs. If you give the ISP the IP and the time at which the offending party was connected, reasonably soon, I understand that they should be able to tell who that IP belongs to.
Once that has happened, one isn't guessing, any more. Mystery solved. One has also probably done something even better - gotten the spammer's ISP to tank his main account. Not some throwaway free e-mail account, but something he's paid real money for. Better still, life might become a little less pleasant for him, in an awful hurry, because spammers commit their offenses in bulk. Google this: spammers jailed
At least one country, long notorious as a source of spam, seems to be acting, too,
so this is not just a matter of US law: Russian spammers to face jail
As an aggrieved party, one with a huge community that has also been left with something to complain about, you have real leverage.
This is no longer a matter of asking the ISP to breach the privacy of one of its users, something that ISPs will usually refuse to do. Being known as a haven for spam can get entire IPs blocked from sites in a hurry, and that is a direct threat to their livelihood, even if they should be so foolish as to not care about their business' reputation. They can lose their domain name registration, as well. These are solid, business related reasons to act, even before one starts to ask exactly what it takes to be an accessory to a crime. Offline, merely being in the same car as somebody who just committed a crime, even if one had no idea that he was about to do anything illegal and couldn't have known, is enough to do it. Not really a reassuring thought. Anybody with any street smarts at all is going to do his damnedest to not give a prosecutor a pretext to act. Knowingly continuing to provide a criminal with the means to commit further crimes would, I understand, be an excellent pretext.
On the other hand, if deleting the user's account with cause as solid as that leaves the ISP with no problems at all. They probably won't even have to return the balance due on the remainder of the spammer's subscription period - take a look at your own user agreement at your own primary ISP, and you'll probably see a clause that lets the ISP do exactly that. They get to pocket the difference. Free money vs. possible jail time and even more possible financial ruination and a black mark on one's record that lending institutions and potential employers, alike, will probably find very interesting - which would almost anybody choose?
A shared computer might slow this down a little. Again, correlations will not and can not help, because no matter who sits down to a given computer and a given time, he'll end up posting from the same IP. But, after the ISP kills the account due to spamming, the non-guilty parties sharing that computer might have a few questions to ask of each other. Make sure that they know the time of the offending posts, and they'll probably know who did it, because they will have seen him typing away. How would you react if somebody dragged you into his life of crime, and it wasn't even an interesting life? I think you'll see a lot of cooperation, usually, and if people are willing to let that kind of thing go on when they could easily have stopped it, then they deserve what they get. Banned from their ISP and blocked from ePlaya seems like a mild punishment.
As for what to do about the Qatar scenario, I have no idea.