Friday, 27 Apr, 2007 Politics

Lawsuit to Target E-mail Harvesters and Spammers


A federal lawsuit, on behalf of Project Honey Pot, was filed yesterday in U.S. District Court in Alexandria by a company that represents internet users from more than 100 countries. The company has the goal of identifying those users that gather millions of e-mail addresses on behalf of spammers.

Project Honey Pot is a service of Unspam Technologies, which, in its turn, is a Utah based company that consults with different companies and government agencies. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of 20,000 people that use the anti-spam tool. The software registers the Internet protocol addresses that belong to the users who gather e-mail addresses from various websites and pass them on to spammers.

The chief executive of Unspam Technologies, Matthew Prince, stated that today there are many Internet users who are simply sick and tired of such things and they want to stop it.

Filed under federal and state anti-spam laws, the lawsuit defined defendants as "John Doe." This means that the plaintiffs are going to ask the court for authority to subpoena records from ISPs. Thus, the identities of owners and the e-mail collectors could be verified.

Automated programs that search the Internet for e-mail addresses will generate the lists of spam-recipients. Spam is also sent automatically because the majority of junk e-mail passes through compromised personal computers in order to hide its source.

It is worth mentioning that in most cases, users that harvest e-mail addresses are not always people who send the spam. These Internet users are the ones that sell the lists of e-mails to known spam operators.

Project Honey Pot was able to figure out that in many cases e-mail harvesters do not have the goal of hiding their Internet addresses.

Matthew Prince mentioned that the Internet addresses of e-mail harvesters represents is very small universe if compared to those who actually send the spam messages. Thus, he said that it is quite possible to locate the harvesters, which in its turn might be helpful is spotting users at the top of spam operations.

Taking into consideration the the complaint, about 175 Project Honey Pot websites in Virginia have sent about 36,000 e-mail addresses to e-mail harvesters around the world. The lawsuit states that 111 e-mail collectors used Internet addresses located in Virginia. In addition 21,000 PCs located in Virginia have been identified as sources that send the junk e-mail.

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