Microsoft Wins Civil Judgment Against Porn Spammer

Michael Hayes
LONDON — An English porn site operator who used spam sent from his hotmail address to direct traffic to his website will have to pay Microsoft $84,000, after a civil court ruled that the man violated the terms and conditions of his account.

According to the English court ruling, Paul Fox breached his contract with Microsoft when he sent spam through his free hotmail account.

British law provides nominal bulwarks against spam, English attorney Struan Robertson said, adding that this case is a prime example of the law’s shortcomings.

According to Robertson, the British legal system has no real mechanism to combat spam that originates outside of the U.K.

“At the moment, if the Information Commissioner comes across somebody sending spam, all he can do is send a notice telling them to comply with the law," Robertson said. "If they continue, the worst that happens is they face a maximum fine of $9,380, and that's not much of a deterrent.”

While Microsoft’s case against Fox represents a private solution to the spam problem, Robertson said he doesn’t believe cases such as this will become the norm.

"If an individual wanted to take action, in a way it's even more difficult because they can only claim compensation for damage that has been caused and it’s difficult to show what the damage would be from an individual spammer,” Robertson said. “You might be able to show you had to buy a spam filter but you can't show it's because of that one spammer."

According to Robertson, technology, not the law, will ultimately be the best defense against spam.