Internet providers sue hundreds for spam

Thursday, 11 March 2004, 12:31 AM EST

Leading Internet companies, in an unusual joint effort among corporate rivals, announced six lawsuits Wednesday against hundreds of people accused of sending millions of unwanted e-mails in violation of the new federal law against "spam."

The legal actions by Microsoft Corp., America Online Inc., Earthlink Inc. and Yahoo! Inc., represent the first major industry actions under the "can spam" legislation that went into effect Jan. 1. The suits were filed in federal courts in California, Georgia, Virginia and Washington state.

Dozens of those named were identified only as "John Doe" defendants accused of e-mailing unwanted pitches for prescription drugs, herbal potions and weight loss plans. Lawyers expressed confidence they can work through the courts, using subpoenas and other investigative tools, to identify and find them.

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