Open Letter from Brad Smith, Microsoft General Counsel

REDMOND, Wash., Aug. 9, 2005Microsoft has released the following text of an open letter from Brad Smith, Microsoft General Counsel:

This week, as a result of legal action by Microsoft and the New York Attorney General against one of the world’s most prolific spammers, Microsoft is expanding its successful partnership with government and law-enforcement authorities against illegal practices on the Internet.

Self-proclaimed “Spam King” Scott Richter has agreed to pay $7 million in damages, pending approval by the court.

After covering our legal expenses for the case, Microsoft will then reinvest every penny from this settlement. We’ll dedicate $5 million dollars to increase our Internet enforcement efforts and expand technical and investigative support to help law enforcement address computer-related crimes.

As this case demonstrates, a strong partnership between the public and private sectors is vital to taking effective action against spam and other Internet problems. By reinvesting these settlement proceeds, we’ll help to make that partnership even stronger.

In appreciation of the role of the New York Attorney General, another $1 million of this settlement money will be directed to New York state through Microsoft Unlimited Potential donations, which help community centers to expand computer-related skills training for youths and adults.

This settlement is a victory for consumers who rely on the Internet because it also means fewer unwanted e-mails in your inbox. Richter has agreed to send e-mail only to those who have requested it, complying fully with all federal and state anti-spam laws. Before changing his practices, Richter sent, and assisted others in sending, more than 38 billion e-mails a year.

This one legal victory will not end spam, but it is a relief to know that the magnitude of spam attacks need no longer be measured on this particular Richter scale.

It has taken time to build the legal framework needed to fight spam. In January 2004, federal anti-spam legislation took effect with a clear definition of spam and clear enforcement guidelines. This law has enabled Microsoft and others to target a number of top spammers and file for worldwide damages.

Our partners include government and law enforcement agencies throughout Europe, Asia and Latin America, and businesses including America Online, EarthLink, Yahoo!, and Pfizer.

Spam has grown from an annoyance to a threat. Through new laws and enforcement actions here and around the globe, spammers are getting the message: illegal spam is a riskier way to make a living.

There is still a long way to go, as legal efforts are being complemented by ongoing technological innovation and consumer education, but this week’s announcement is a milestone.

Thanks to strong enforcement efforts, spam is becoming harder for unlawful characters, and the Internet is becoming safer for all of us.


Brad Smith

Senior Vice President and General Counsel

Microsoft Corp.

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