• United States

Mailbag: the Intel spam case

Jul 31, 20033 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsMalwareMessaging Apps

* Readers have a lot to say regarding a recent newsletter about a court ruling that e-mail is not trespassing

I received more e-mail about the article I wrote on the Intel spam case than on any other article I’ve written for Network World Fusion.

In the article, I described how the California Supreme Court ruled that the state’s trespassing laws don’t extend to someone who sends e-mail to a company’s servers:

Court rules e-mailing is not trespassing

Here’s a sampling of the responses:

* “It’s sad news about the court ruling, but it’s unfortunately very typical of the legal system.”

* “As much as I detest spammers I agree with the court ruling. If the spammer sends a virus or malicious piece of e-mail I believe they should be prosecuted. If a company however wants to prevent spammers from sending e-mail they need to prevent the incoming e-mail from going beyond their servers. One alternative is to make e-mail servers secure, permission-based applications.”

* “The court ruled reasonably. If they ruled otherwise, this e-mail to you could be an act of trespass. For that matter, all ‘unsolicited’ junk mail, paper or electronic, would trespass over my domain.”

* “I think the California Supreme Court ruling is in keeping with court rulings about junk mail, noise abatement, etc. Trespass is a very different law than use of property; in most western states trespass law goes so far as to allow defending against trespass by use of deadly force. I don’t think any court is going to legalize shooting spammers, though it would probably be a very effective deterrent.”

* “Intel’s grievance has nothing to do with what we the consumer consider to be spam. The guy wasn’t trying to sell anything, wasn’t making any false promises and in fact probably had a great deal of constructive criticism to give.”

* “I am certain that spam is a problem and that it should be something companies have some control over, that companies ought to have some legal recourse allowing them to limit the amount of ‘damage’ done to them by e-mails sent to their employees through their servers. I don’t believe ‘trespass’ is the hook we can hang this tort on. Theft of services would work better.”

* “As for the court’s decision to decline ‘to adopt a rule treating computer servers as real property for purposes of trespass law,’ I can fully understand not wanting to create a new category of virtual real estate for tort law purposes (though maybe some courts already have).”

* “Personally, I think that spam, whether it does any damage or not, is trespassing.”

* “I wish smarter and more responsible people were occupying key positions in the judicial system. Someone has to finally do something about those… spammers.”