Anti-Spammer Claims Court Victory

Maryland anti-spam activist Francis Uy claimed victory in his quest to out a Maryland man he says is responsible for huge quantities of unsolicited bulk email, after winning a court case related to his posting of the man’s personal information on his Web site.

George Moore, a Linthicum, Md., resident, accused Uy of harassment for posting his personal information, including mailing address and phone number, on Uy’s anti-spam site. Moore claimed spam vigilantes signed him up for dozens of magazines and some called to leave threatening messages.

Anne Arundel District Court judge Robert Wilcox sided with Uy, saying that Moore was not directly threatened by the posting of public information.

Moore was unavailable for comment.

With the deluge of spam continuing unabated, many Net surfers have taken matters into their own hands, posting the personal information of unsolicited bulk emailers on Web sites devoted to known spammers.

Moore, in particular, has drawn the ire of spam activists through his company, Maryland Internet Marketing, which sells a variety of gastrointestinal and diet aids, including Fat-N-Emy and Extreme Colon Cleanser.

In January, one of Moore’s sites, salesscape.com, had personal information readily available on insecure pages, as reported by internetnews.com.

Uy’s site includes a variety of information on Moore, including his home address, known email addresses, and photo. The site has links to stories in publications like San Jose Mercury News and Newsweek identifying Moore as a spammer, as well as links to other anti-spam sites. One site, Spamhaus.org, is a depository of the identities of dozens of known spammers, including Moore. Spamhaus.org scours public records to find and post a plethora of personal information, including property records for his house.

On a Slashdot posting, Uy crowed about his victory, claiming Moore was suffering for his spamming.

“I don’t encourage harassment against you, and I don’t need to,” Uy wrote. “The facts speak quite loudly enough. Your best option is to crawl back under a rock and suck it up, or move to some state other than the one I live in.”

Spam has a long history of vigilantism, because people felt technological and legal solutions to the spam dilemma were inadequate. Blacklists were one of the earliest defenses against spam, with some email marketers complaining that there was little recourse to being accidentally placed on a list.

Despite widespread attention and consternation, spam has continued to grow to the point where some have feared it will overwhelm the effectiveness of email. Jupiter Research, which is owned by this site’s parent company, expects email users to received 3,900 spam emails per year by 2007.

Uy’s site urges Internet users fed up with spam to seek relief under Maryland’s anti-spam laws, which allow consumers to sue marketers for $500 for sending them unsolicited commercial email. Thirty states have some kind of anti-spam law on the books, according to Spamlaws.com.

Some anti-spam activists have used the legal avenues now available. Dan Balsam, a Santa Monica-based anti-spam activist, filed a lawsuit against Moore in December 2002. Last week, anti-spam company Habeas filed its first lawsuits under its plan to target spammers with copyright and trademark law.

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