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16 Dec 2006

In the UK, it's illegal to sell sucker lists to pornographers Email

In a story reported yesterday at, and in the Milton Keynes local paper, Microsoft win a suit against Paul McDonald (a/k/a Gary Webb) for illegally selling e-mail addresses.

McDonald ran a small company called Bizads which claimed to sell opt-in lists of opportinity seekers. But the court concluded he was actually selling overpriced bogus prospect lists to pornorgraphers, for the remarkably high price of £150 for 250 addresses.

Microsoft said the lists included addressses of unhappy users of their Hotmail service who had not opted in, as well as spamtraps set up just to catch cases like this. They persuaded the judge that they were suffering loss of goodwill due to user complaints, and won about as thoroughly as they possibly could. The judge granted summary judgement, issued an injunction, and will consider compensation. Since the UK rule is that the loser pays the winner's costs, the compensation may well be substantial.

Beyond the obvious fact that it is an impressively bad idea to sell scraped lists of addresses at one of the world's largest and most litigious ISPs to pornographers, this case sets a favorable precedent that both the targets of spam and their ISPs have standing against spammers in the UK. Since the UK laws are related to EU-wide privacy and anti-spam directives, this may be of use in persuading courts in other European countries to act.

posted at: 22:17 :: permanent link to this entry :: 1 comments
posted at: 22:17 :: permanent link to this entry :: 1 comments

comments...        (Jump to the end to add your own comment)

It's interesting that this was a private action brought by Microsoft, rather than by the regulatory govt agency; I was under the impression that private actions were not going to be possible under EU law.

If they are, that's great news for UK residents, given the apparent inactivity of their regulator w.r.t. spam...

(by Justin Mason 24 Jan 2007 05:50)

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