Microsoft Files More Anti-Spam Lawsuits in Conjunction With Leading ISPs

REDMOND, Wash., Oct. 28, 2004 — Microsoft Corp. today announced the filing of three new anti-spam lawsuits under the CAN-SPAM federal law as part of its continued commitment to solving the spam problem for Internet users worldwide. The announcement was made in conjunction with industry partners America Online Inc., EarthLink Inc. and Yahoo! Inc., who also filed separate lawsuits against accused spammers today in courts in Virginia, Georgia and California. America Online filed two lawsuits, and EarthLink and Yahoo! each filed a single lawsuit.

Collectively, these four Internet service providers continue to change the economics of spam by identifying and targeting top alleged spammers, said Aaron Kornblum, Microsofts Internet safety enforcement attorney. Microsoft alone has supported more than 100 legal actions worldwide, including 75 lawsuits in the United States, against those who strain our consumers inboxes with unwanted and deceptive e-mail, many carrying and transmitting malicious code, spyware and links to phishing sites.

Todays three lawsuits filed by Microsoft allege that defendants spoofed the domains of all four Internet service providers and used open proxies to route the e-mails. The defendants, one named defendant and two John Does, allegedly sent millions of e-mail messages advertising herbal growth supplements, mortgage services and get-rich-quick schemes, all in violation of the CAN-SPAM federal law.

At the same time, America Online filed two lawsuits in Federal Court both naming numerous John Does as defendants and alleging violations of federal and state laws. One lawsuit is the very first to expressly target SPIM for AOL, and the most significant spimmer lawsuit ever filed in the industry, as it addresses instant messenger spam and chat room spam. The next lawsuit is the first AOL enforcement action against a spammer peddling controlled substances, including Vicodin and other pharmaceuticals, which are legally available only with a physicians prescription.

EarthLink filed a lawsuit against numerous John Doe defendants who used illegal and deceptive e-mails to advertise prescription drugs available without a legitimate prescription and low mortgage or loan rates, in many cases attempting to collect and re-sell consumers names and contact information. EarthLinks complaint charges the defendants with violating the CAN-SPAM Act, along with other federal and state statutes.

Yahoo! filed a lawsuit against East Coast Exotics Entertainment Group Inc. and Epoth LLC for allegedly disguising their identity, designing messages to circumvent spam filters, and using sexually explicit subject lines to send unsolicited sexually oriented spam e-mail messages. Yahoo! accuses the defendants of violating the CAN-SPAM federal law, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the California Computer Crime Statute, and the civil conspiracy law.

This is the second round of junk-e-mail-related enforcement actions filed by the anti-spam alliance, which was founded in April 2003 and is led by AOL, EarthLink, Microsoft and Yahoo! On March 10, 2004, these companies collaborated to file the first major industry lawsuits against accused spammers alleging violations under the new CAN-SPAM federal law, which went into effect on Jan. 1, 2004.

On the technical side, these companies collaborated in June to present a host of detailed best practices and technical recommendations for the entire industry in an effort to fight the scourge of spam. Their proposals recommended actions and policies for the entire online industry and focused primarily on two key issues: helping solve the e-mail forgery problem by eliminating domain spoofing through cryptographic-based and Internet Protocol (IP)-based solutions, and best practices to help prevent ISPs and their customers from being sources of spam.

Additional details of all four companies lawsuits are available on their respective press Web sites.

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