The Spamhaus Project


Summer Spam Suits Show Some Success

by The Spamhaus TeamSeptember 08, 20062 minutes reading time

Microsoft Corporation has won what could be the largest award against a spammer in Europe thus far. Paul Fox, whose e-mail messages were intended to direct people toward his pornographic websites, was forced by a court order to pay Microsoft 45,000 pounds ($84,177) for breaching the terms and conditions of Microsoft's free Hotmail service. Those terms explicitly prohibit the delivery of spam to Hotmail users.

Sadly, this victory does point out the failure of the British legal system to tackle spam. Despite efforts by the Information Commissioner's Office to gain power from the Department of Trade & Industry to deal with spam, Information Commissioner Richard Thomas' office does little. As it can only deal with spam originating in the United Kingdom, the actions it can take are very limited. Microsoft's actions show that at this time, only private civil action can be used to deter spammers in the legal arena.

And in the USA, a Nevada based spamming company has been ordered to pay Earthlink 5.8m pounds ($11m) for spamming the ISP's customers. Earthlink won the judgment in a CAN-SPAM law suit filed in a federal court in Atlanta against "KSTM LLC." According to Earthlink, this business illegally sent millions of mortgage-touting emails. The civil case also requires the spammers to follow the law (yes, hard to belive!), including not falsifying the "from" field in the e-mail address (spoofing), not hiding the identity of the email sender (cloaking) and bans them from selling Earthlink's e-mail addresses or accessing or obtaining EarthLink accounts. In a press release, EarthLink's Assistant General Counsel Larry Slovensky stated, "This judgment should be fair warning that if you spam, we will sue."

Along with Microsoft and AOL, Earthlink is one of the most active litigators against spammers, boasting that since 1996 it has won more than 100m pounds ($200m) in judgements and succeeded in getting two spammers sent to jail. None of these companies ever collect much of these awards from spammers, most spammers seem to squander their ill gotten gains quickly, and the ones that do not, hide away their monies in off-shore accounts to avoid these litigation judgements and to avoid paying any tax.