|Microsoft filed 15 suits Tuesday against senders of unsolicited e-mail in the United States and Europe, seeking potentially billions of dollars in damages.|
Microsoft said it is cracking down on the global spread of spam by going after individuals and corporations it alleges sent more than two billion unwanted messages to users of Microsoft's MSN and Hotmail services.
Microsoft is basing its lawsuits on Washington state law that makes it illegal to send messages with false or misleading information to consumers in Washington or use a third party's Internet domain name without permission. It gives computer service companies the right to sue for damages of $1,000 per message.
Tim Cranton, Microsoft senior corporate attorney, said the company sought to distinguish between deceptive and fraudulent e-mail ads and those by legitimate businesses.
'We don't think all commercial e-mail should be banned,' he said. Microsoft favors self regulation by the industry' to establish standards that can evolve over time,' he said.
Ray Everett-Church, chief privacy officer for consultancy ePrivacy Group and an adviser on the Bowen bill, said he doubts whether Internet service providers such as Microsoft, AOL and Yahoo will support stronger anti-spam bills because they're investing in spam-fighting technologies as a marketing tool, and charging premiums for better spam filters. Microsoft and other Internet service providers fought against a bill in California that would require companies to get permission from computer users before sending them unsolicited e-mail ads.
'Spam is a competitive marketplace for big service providers,' he said. 'It's not at all surprising they are backing laws that are weaker.'