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Microsoft Successfully Sues British Spammer

Microsoft has sued a British spammer and its success implies the biggest return against spamming in Europe. The spammer, Paul Fox was blamed for spamming Microsoft's 'hotmail e-mail service'. He distributed messages that linked to his pornographic website. The Court instructed him to pay Microsoft an amount of 45,000 GBP for violating Hotmail's terms and conditions that bans spamming to Microsoft's customers.

Mr. Fox was forced to accept the Court Order, failing which would mean 'contempt of court' and conduct of criminal offence. Mr. Fox agreed not to spam again against Microsoft or any ISP and remit 45,000 pounds as compensation of damages and contribution to legal costs of Microsoft.

The beneficiary of the spamming campaign was a site that enabled pornographic video download. The victim would receive an e-mail that would contain a link to access the site. Clicking on the link would help the spammer make money.

The incident indicates a loophole in UK's law and order to combat spam. Although continuous efforts by the Office of Information Commissioner are made to counter spam, there still are a lot of restrictions. The Information Commissioner has limited power to deal with spam. According to the regulations he must serve an order on a spammer, instructing the spammer to abide by the law. Only if the spammer violates that order does it make it an offence, and the maximum fine is just 5,000 pounds, said Struan Robertson, editor, Outlaw.com.

Mr. Robertson added that the law's regulations generally do not prevent spam in using e-mail addresses. The law can sue only that spammer whose work originates in UK. On the other hand the victimized companies or individuals have to show damage to claim compensation for it. They cannot claim the expense of dealing with all the spam that arrives in their inboxes.

Microsoft used its tools and systems to track Mr. Fox's activities. In April Microsoft picked a sample of 20,000 out of its 200 million e-mail accounts and found that 70 different Hotmail e-mail accounts were attacked. Some accounts received 250 e-mails on a single day. This evaluation showed the scale and volume of the spam campaign.

Related article: Microsoft Patches Live OneCare to Tackle Quarantined E-Mails

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