Are you having problems sending email?
I was too, for the past week or so. It happened all of a sudden, out of the blue. So I did what any self-respecting techie would do, I fiddled around with my account settings on my ‘mail client’ (Mozilla Thunderbird, like Outlook just free and not linked to Microsoft in anyway). Unable to fix the problem, I then visited the ‘Bluehost’ help pages (Bluehost are the company which I use to host this website).
It follows the passing of the ‘Digital Economy Act 2010‘ which fundamentally forced Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the United Kingdom to allow the UK government to scan any and all email sent by anyone based in the UK.
That’s right, the government is reading all of our email (or can do, if they so wish). The ISPs tried to appeal in court but their appeal was rejected by the High Court. You can find out more about this court case by reading the BBC article on the appeal failure here.
I was having issues sending email via what is called an ‘SMTP’ server. SMTP, or ‘Simple Mail Transfer Protocol’, is used by most e-mail systems to send messages from one server to another over the Internet.
Fundamentally, ISPs in the UK, such as BT and Sky, now have to allow the UK government access to any SMTP messages (email to you and me) sent to and from any computer or server in the UK. That is all your and my email.
Yes, the government, or Big Brother as in George Orwell’s famous book, 1984 can now access any email you send via SMTP port 25.
Funnily enough, there is a fix to this. If you go into your mail client (Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird or AN Other client), go to ‘Settings’ and ‘SMTP settings’, then change the ‘Port’ from ’25’ to ’26’, this will bypass the Big Brother’s monitoring attempt.
A ‘Port’ is an electronic gateway through which information flows. The standard ‘Port’ used by ‘outgoing’ SMTP mail is ’25’, which is what the government scans.
By changing this to ‘Port’ ’26’ the scanning no longer applies.
This is a small flaw in any government legislation regarding scanning or monitoring of technology, similar to outlawing a single version of a drug; a new version of the drug or a new way to go ‘around’ the legislation will come into play, and the monolith that is the government will slowly try and catch up. (Which it never will – try stemming the tide with your hand at the beach and see what happens.)
So here is the advice given on Bluehost’s website:
When setting up an account in Outlook or Outlook Express I get an error saying unable to connect to my SMTP server.
Many ISP’s are now blocking traffic on port 25 (SMTP) not using their mail servers. You can do 1 of three things:
1. Change your SMTP (outgoing mail) port to 26 (we have a second SMTP server running there).
2. Enable secure authentication (SSL) for SMTP and use port 465.
3. Contact your ISP and ask for their SMTP settings to send emails using their service.”
Have fun with it – let’s not let Big Brother take our privacy that easily!
Until next time – safe emailing!