Laws Of .com

Spam Lawsuits Filed by U.S. Internet Providers Include Canadian Defendants

Six lawsuits were filed by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) AOL, Microsoft, Earthlink and Yahoo! on March 9, 2004 against hundreds of defendants, including three Canadians, accused of sending spam Emails. The lawsuits are based primarily on the new U.S. anti-spam law known as the CAN SPAM Act of 2003 (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing), which became effective on January 1, 2004.

The lawsuits claim the defendants breached the CAN SPAM Act by, among other things: failing to adhere to the terms of use policies of the ISPs, which prohibit the transmission of unsolicited bulk Emails (spam); failing to provide a viable return Email and postal address on their Emails; using misleading or false Email subject headings and failing to identify their Emails as solicitations or advertisements. The ISPs allege that the defendants knowingly misappropriated advertising services at their expense and used their computers and networks without permission. Costs incurred by ISPs as a result of spam Emails include expanding computer networks to deal with the volume of mail and paying employees to deal with customer complaints.

The ISPs are confident that the identity of many of the defendants, unknown at the time of filing, will be revealed through investigation. Yahoo! has named three residents of Kitchener, Ontario, and the companies that they control, in its California-based lawsuit. Jurisdiction against the Canadians was asserted partly on the basis that they intentionally used Yahoo!'s California servers to cause harm to Yahoo! and other residents of California.

In a related manner, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is seeking public input into regulations to be made under the CAN SPAM Act designed to define ".the relevant criteria to facilitate the determination of the primary purpose of an electronic mail message." It is hoped the comments will provide guidance as to the Act's scope.

For more information on the lawsuits, visit:

For information on the CAN SPAM Act regulations, visit: