Microsoft takes spam fight to court

Wednesday, 18 June 2003, 9:06 AM EST

Microsoft said it filed 13 civil suits against U.S. defendants, accusing them of spamming Microsoft customers with deceptive e-mail. It also filed two suits in the United Kingdom, where the defendants are accused of illegally harvesting Microsoft e-mail addresses for use in building spam mailing lists. Microsoft accused the defendants in the 15 suits of being collectively responsible for sending the company's customers more than 2 billion unsolicited commercial messages.

Efforts to combat spam are on the rise on the legislative, legal and technological fronts. The U.S. Congress and several states are drafting new laws against spam, and both companies and individuals are increasingly bringing their spam grievances to court. Companies from Microsoft to tiny start-ups are developing new varieties of e-mail filters that act on individual in-boxes and entire e-mail networks.

"Spam is a growing problem and it's a global problem," Brad Smith, senior vice president and general counsel for Microsoft, said at a news conference in Redmond, Wash., to announce the suits. "We believe that a multifaceted approach is needed...We at Microsoft are ramping up our efforts to fight spam around the world."

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