beats spammers in court

Free-speech group wins a legal round in its fight against unsolicited e-mail, invoking Washington state's anti-spam law.

Free-speech group has won a legal round in its fight against unsolicited e-mail, invoking Washington state's anti-spam law.

The King County District Court in Bellevue, Wash., on Monday granted Peacefire $1,000 in damages in each of three complaints filed by Peacefire Webmaster Bennett Haselton. The small-claims suit alleged that Red Moss Media, Paulann Allison and Richard Schueler sent unsolicited commercial messages to Haselton that bore deceptive information such as a forged return e-mail address or misleading subject line.

Washington's tough anti-spam law bans such deceptive e-mail. Enacted four years ago, the law is one of the nation's first measures that sets standards for junk e-mailers and levies stiff fines for violators. In October, the Supreme Court refused to review a constitutional challenge to Washington's law.

California has a similar anti-spam law that requires marketers to place the letters "ADV" in the subject line, signifying an advertisement. It too has the support of the courts, with a state appeals court ruling the measure does not violate a clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Congress, however, has yet to pass federal legislation governing commercial e-mail, leaving consumers such as Haselton to seek protection under state laws. So far, Peacefire and Haselton have been victorious. In December, they won similar small-claims court rulings against four separate spammers for $500 each.

Monday's rulings "show there are non-technical means to fight back against spam," Haselton said. "I'm glad to live in a state where we have an effective anti-spam law, and I wish other states would pass similar laws or the federal government would pass one."

Red Moss Media and Schueler could not be immediately reached for comment; Allison declined to comment on the ruling.


You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
See All
See All