Microsoft to fight spam with subpoenas

Microsoft is looking to burn spammers targeting users of its Hotmail e-mail service with a lawsuit filed in a California federal court last week.

The suit goes after unnamed defendants accused of harvesting e-mail addresses from its Hotmail servers with the intention of spamming subscribers. The "John Doe" suit allows the company to conduct discovery in the case, and issue subpoenas as part of the investigative process of the trial, a Microsoft representative said Wednesday.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Jose last Thursday, represents the software giant's latest volley against spammers, which it is targeting through both the courtroom and U.S. Congress.

Last week, the Redmond, Washington, company also turned up the fire under legislators, asking them to pass laws that would make it illegal for spammers to harvest e-mail addresses.

In an essay posted on its site last Wednesday, the company said that it is intensifying its efforts to cooperate with other ISPs (Internet service providers) and working with the government to enforce current laws against spam, but that "new, strong laws are needed."

Microsoft's push to crack down on spammers comes as ISPs are increasingly hearing calls from customers to help them cut back on the annoying, unsolicited e-mail. Several e-mail providers, including Microsoft, have introduced new spam-fighting tools to their services in recent months, but the exponential growth of spam has made providers turn to legislative support to complement their technological measures.

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