ISPs File More Anti-Spam Lawsuits

NEW YORK America Online, Earthlink, Microsoft and Yahoo! have filed a second round of lawsuits under the 11-month-old federal anti-spam law, including one that expressly targets unwanted communications via instant messaging tools or chat rooms.

The four e-mail and Internet service providers, which make up the Anti-Spam Alliance, filed a total of seven legal actions in federal courts in Virginia, Georgia, Washington state and California, charging defendants with sending bulk unsolicited messages to the plantiffs’ customers.

In March, the companies jointly filed the first major industry lawsuits under the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act, or CAN-SPAM Act, signed into law by President George W. Bush late last year [IQ Daily Briefing, March 10]. The law calls for damages up to $250 per spam e-mail with a cap of $2 million that can be tripled for aggravated violations; for e-mails using false or deceptive headers, the cap does not apply.

AOL in Dulles, Va., filed two lawsuits—one of which addresses unsolicited messages sent to consumers via IM or chat rooms—based on more than 2 million complaints from its subscribers. Microsoft of Redmond, Wash., filed three legal actions alleging that the defendants spoofed ISP domains to send millions of e-mails peddling herbal growth supplements, mortgage services and get-rich-quick schemes.

Atlanta-based Earthlink’s lawsuit goes after purveyors of prescription drugs and low mortgage or loan rates, while Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Yahoo! alleges that East Coast Exotics Entertainment Group and Epoth LLC disguised their identity, designed messages to circumvent spam filters and used sexually explicit subject lines.