A week or so ago I had a sudden issue with my email, and did a bit of investigating, which yielded some refreshingly honest, but disturbing answers
from my website host.
First, a primer for those of you who are less than technically familiar:
ISP: Internet Service Provider. This is the company that hooks up the physical internet connection to your house. For me, that company is Qwest --
soon to be "Century Link".
Web Host: This is the company that provides server space for my websites, and also email services for same. They shall remain nameless in this
Sometimes these two functions are handled by the same company. For me they are not.
Now on to my point:
My email suddenly stopped working. Specifically, I could receive mail but I was getting errors when I sent email. The first thing I did was check
that my modem was working, and I replicated the problem on a different computer with a different email address. Same problem. This eliminated any
problems on my end of things. So - I called my host, the ones who provide email services. I figured they were having email server problems.
So I sent an email trouble ticket to their tech support, and the following snips are emails that we exchanged. Some parts have been redacted for
I can't get email to send from (email address). I haven't changed any settings in Outlook, so I must assume that it isn't connecting to your mail
server somehow. I am able to GET mail but not SEND it.
Reply from web host:
Thank you for contacting us. I just tested your account and it works normally for. If you are able to receive mail and not send out its possible
your ISP is blocking port 25. We recommend that you try changing the port to 587. If this still does not work then we recommend that you contact the
ISP as they might require that you use their outbound mail server.
Okay, so I tried that and sent this response:
This problem exists on two computers, two different email accounts on (domain). This started happening this morning. I changed nothing. I'll try
changing the port, but this is not something I caused.
The ISP is Qwest. They are going through a change of hands.. Might be something to that. If you get this message, it means it worked.
And then the plot thickens:
A lot of companies are doing it. Some are blocking alternate ports as well which forces you to use their specific outbound mail server. It allows
them to monitor every single email you send. You might consider letting them know of your displeasure.
What?? Then I pressed for more information, thinking they'd fall silent on the issue going forward:
Monitor, as in eavesdrop?
And the confirmation from them:
Thank you for following up. Monitor as in they can view any unencrypted message.
Let me know if you have any more questions.
Now call me paranoid, but was I wrong to be alarmed at this information? Is there something to it? I do not want my emails being read by my ISP. I
know the NSA does it without my consent already, but peons at my ISP having access? Them giving access to whoever they feel deserves it?
Sorry, I think this is a little bit intrusive. A little too "Big Brother". Has anyone else experienced this? Is this even legal?