A Utah-based anti-spam technology company filed a lawsuit in US District Court in Alexandria Thursday in an effort to identify the people behind so-called "spambots", programs that search the Internet for e-mail addresses to sell to spammers. Unspam Technologies Inc. operates a spam harvester-tracking Web site called Project Honey Pot that has collected thousands of Internet addresses connected to spam harvesters. It has been unable to link those addresses to actual people, but hopes to do so during the discovery process of the lawsuit, said plaintiff's lawyer Jon Praed. Although collecting e-mail addresses is not illegal, using that information to spam is prohibited under federal and state laws. Praed said Unspam can show that the emails were collected for that purpose.
This is the latest effort to combat the growing problem of Internet spam. In 2004, a Maryland judge struck down as unconstitutional the state's 2002 Commercial Electronic Mail Act, the first state law to punish senders of spam. Also in 2004, several major Internet companies filed anti-spam lawsuits under the federal CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, which prohibits deceptive or abusive web advertising techniques such as the use of false return addresses or misleading subject lines to trick users into opening messages.