December 18, 2006 11:01 AM PST

Judge stops Brit from selling Hotmail lists

Microsoft has stopped a U.K. man from selling lists of e-mail addresses that were then being used by spammers.

The technology giant took to court Paul Martin McDonald, who through his company Bizads sold e-mail addresses that were then used as spam lists. Microsoft sought and was granted a summary judgment against McDonald, arguing that his actions had caused Microsoft to suffer loss and damage to the goodwill it enjoyed as owner of the Web-based e-mail service Hotmail.

The judge agreed with Microsoft that Bizads had breached the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR), a U.K. law that includes regulations designed to halt the sending of unsolicited e-mail.

"The evidence plainly established that the business of Bizads was supplying e-mail lists of persons who had not consented to receive direct marketing mail and that it had encouraged purchasers of the lists to send e-mails to those people," the judge said.

The judge ruled that Microsoft had suffered a loss as a result of the breach of the PECR and was entitled to compensation and an injunction restraining McDonald from instigating the transmission of commercial e-mails to Hotmail accounts.

IT law expert Struan Robertson called the ruling a "good result in the battle against spam." Robertson, who is a senior associate at Pinsent Masons solicitors, said the result is interesting as it is one of the first times PECR has been used to stop someone selling lists for spam.

According to Robertson, the court rejected a claim that the people on the lists had consented to receiving spam, due to their complaints.

"People making complaints indicates they hadn't consented," said Robertson. PECR covers unsolicited e-mail.

"It's interesting that Paul McDonald didn't send the spam himself; he just sold the lists," Robertson said. "But the court was able to characterize selling the lists as instigation of spam."

Tom Espiner of ZDNet UK reported from London.

See more CNET content tagged:
MSN Hotmail, spam, Judge, U.K., e-mail address


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Where did he GET the lists?
Posted by timomy (22 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Reopen the Tower of London and throw away the key.
These scumbags need to be drawn and quartered for all the grief, trouble and cost they cause for the average person and business.

And Microsoft needs to safeguard its email databases!

Posted by WJeansonne (480 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Stop blaming Microsoft for all the world's bad things.
Microsoft doesn't need to safeguard its email databases (I mean that's not the issue here), *people* have to learn to use Bcc and clear email adresses when they forward an email.

Posted by Ryo Hazuki (378 comments )
Link Flag
What about the bigger question?
>>>breached the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR), a U.K. law that includes regulations designed to halt the sending of unsolicited e-mail.<<<

Would the judge have come up with the same conclusion even if Microsoft had not pushed the case?

Posted by wbenton (522 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Probably not.
That's why we should thank Microsoft (instead of ignorantly blaming it for everything bad that happens in the world).
Posted by Ryo Hazuki (378 comments )
Link Flag
Good, but not good enough
This is great, I just wish more people would do the same...I get so much spam, I feel like I spend most of my time just deleting crap in my inbox. I try and be careful, but you never know where the spam is coming seems like everytime I buy something or do ANYTHING online, I'm just giving my email address to thousands of people...I just started using this thing called Nyms, and it doesn't really stop the spam, but it does let me know where it's coming from and it will stop any future spam from that one source...pretty cool...
Posted by cathleen_44 (12 comments )
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