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Can or Can’t Spam: Technology & The Law

 By:  Derek J. Gordon.

Introduction

            Computer networks are inundated with unwanted email messages (emails) on a daily basis.  These unwarranted messages are called SPAM, or unsolicited bulk, email.  A majority of these messages are for illegal activities.  However, some emails are legitimate messages from businesses to a consumer.  While one email is minuscule, the number sent to an individual email address each day number in the thousands.  In fact, a personal mail server typically processes three thousand emails per day that have no legitimate purpose or mail box for delivery.  Corporate mail servers can process over a million SPAM emails per day.  Larger internet service providers may process tens of millions of SPAM emails each day.

Originally, SPAM email came from legitimate business enterprises which could be tracked.  Case law dealt with these companies and injunctions were granted to require that the companies stop their activities.  Case law suggested that a SPAM company must stop their transmissions when an internet provider notified them that their messages were no longer welcome.  This attitude held for a few months; however, much of the SPAM today is part of an underground activity outside the realm of legitimate business activities.