Internet service providers file more spam lawsuits

In a second round of lawsuits announced on Thursday, four major U.S. Internet service providers (ISPs) are taking on senders of e-mail spam and unwanted commercial messages sent via instant messaging.

Microsoft, America Online (AOL), EarthLink and Yahoo, each filed new lawsuits in U.S. federal court. The suits in Virginia, Georgia, California and Washington, charge named and unnamed alleged senders of spam with violating the federal CAN-SPAM Act, along with other state and federal laws.

It is the second time that the ISPs, united in the Anti-Spam Alliance, are taking legal action against spammers. In March the companies sued more than 220 alleged spammers responsible for sending out hundreds of millions of pieces of unsolicited commercial e-mail.

In the new round of lawsuits, AOL is suing numerous defendants and seeks damages as well as court orders forcing the alleged spam senders to give up their profits and cease their activities. One suit targets spam sent via instant messaging, also known as SPIM, the first such lawsuit, according to AOL.

AOL and EarthLink are aiming at spammers hawking controlled substances, including Vicodin and other prescription drugs. EarthLink's lawsuit also charges numerous unnamed defendants with sending spam advertising mortgages and loans.

Microsoft is charging one named and two unnamed defendants with sending millions of e-mails advertising herbal growth supplements, mortgage services and get-rich-quick schemes. The defendants allegedly spoofed, or faked, the origin of their e-mail messages to show it came from Microsoft, AOL, EarthLink or Yahoo accounts.

Yahoo filed suit against East Coast Exotics Entertainment Group and Epoth, charging the companies with disguising their identity and sending sexually-explicit messages that were designed to circumvent spam filters.

By suing top spam senders, the Anti-Spam Alliance members hope to make the spam business less attractive. Although many senders of spam are unknown, the group has said in the past that they plan to use the law enforcement tools available under CAN-SPAM to identify the unnamed defendants, and shut them down.

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