Big Four ISPs File First Major Can Spam Suits

  |  March 10, 2004   |  Comments

UPDATE: AOL, EarthLink, Microsoft and Yahoo! file suit in the biggest case yet under the new federal Can Spam act.

Giant ISPs America Online, EarthLink , Microsoft , and Yahoo have made a coordinated filing of the first major industry lawsuits under the recently enacted federal Can Spam act

The four, members of an anti-spam industry alliance formed in April 2003, filed six lawsuits against what they say are hundreds of the country's most egregious spammers. Company executives announced the suits at a press conference in Washington, D.C. Wednesday.

The plaintiffs filed complaints in federal courts in California, Georgia, Virginia and Washington state charging the defendants with sending hundreds of millions of spam email to customers of the four companies.

Named in the suits were: Davis Wolfgang Hawke, also known as Dave Bridger; Braden Bournival; JDO Media; the Super Viagra Group; along with Eric Head, Matthew Head, and their companies Gold Disk Canada, Head Programming, and Infinite Technologies Worldwide. More than a hundred John Doe defendants are accused of spamming, as well.

The allegations included deceptive soliciting for the only-too-well-known prescription drugs, pornography and the like, sending spam through third-party computers, falsified "from" email addresses, absence of a physical address in the message and absence of an unsubscribe option, all of which are prohibited by the Can Spam act.

The six lawsuits all ask for injunctions barring the alleged spammers from sending any more spam or hijacking the plaintiffs' computers and systems to do so, plus unspecified monetary damages and attorneys' fees.

"We can get money judgments against them, we can get injunctions against them barring them from sending spam and under the Can Spam act we can seek specific monetary damage per each email, " said Dave Baker, VP law and public policy at EarthLink. "That would put them out of business. The court order that bars them from sending email puts them out of business."

All of the company executives stressed the importance of a combination of cooperation between the major players, legislation, technology and enforcement.

Asked if the alliance was going after the companies whose goods were being sold, as well as the spammers who were promoting them, the group said it was "following the money and going up the chain."

"Following the money is a useful investigative technique. We talked about how difficult it is to do the technological tracing of the [spammers]. It's not so hard to trace money. The money will show us where people are and what they're doing," said Microsoft Deputy General Counsel Nancy Anderson.

Of course it might be difficult to identify and prosecute the companies whose goods were advertised in the spam, EarthLink's Baker said, because information promoted in spam messages is often false and there might or might not be a real product.

This action comes on the heels of the filing of the first lawsuit under Can Spam on March 5, by a California ISP naming BobVila.com as the defendant.

The major ISPs have filed dozens of lawsuits over the last two years against spammers, but this represents the first time the Can Spam act has been invoked by the big players.

To give an idea of the magnitude of the spam problem, according to papers filed in an earlier, non-Can Spam suit, AOL's email system currently receives nearly 2 billion email messages a day. AOL claims its email filters currently block a whopping 1 billion messages per day, a figure they claim in the lawsuit is 10 times higher than the average daily spam volume back in 1999 when they installed the filters.

ClickZ Live San Francisco Revolutionize your digital marketing campaigns at ClickZ Live San Francisco! (August 10-12) Educating marketers for over 15 years, we return to San Francisco this August with our action-packed, educationally-focused agenda that will cover every aspect of digital marketing. Early Bird rates available through Friday, July 17 - save up to $300! Register today.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Janis Mara

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

ClickZ Today is our #1 newsletter.
Get a daily dose of digital marketing.

COMMENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

Featured White Papers

US Consumer Device Preference Report

US Consumer Device Preference Report
Traditionally desktops have shown to convert better than mobile devices however, 2015 might be a tipping point for mobile conversions! Download this report to find why mobile users are more important then ever.

E-Commerce Customer Lifecycle

E-Commerce Customer Lifecycle
Have you ever wondered what factors influence online spending or why shoppers abandon their cart? This data-rich infogram offers actionable insight into creating a more seamless online shopping experience across the multiple devices consumers are using.

WEBINARS

Jobs

  • Sr. Marketing Specialist, PPC
    Sr. Marketing Specialist, PPC (Charter Communications) - StamfordSr. Marketing Specialist, PPC– Digital Marketing Charter Communications...
  • Online Marketing Analyst
    Online Marketing Analyst (FULLBEAUTY Brands ) - New YorkINTRODUCTION: Are you interested in a unique career opportunity where you can represent...
  • Copy Editor
    Copy Editor (ClickZ / Search Engine Watch) - New YorkROLE OVERVIEW The role of the copy editor for ClickZ has many demands. Ultimately, the copy...