Microsoft wants the federal government to
amend its anti-spam legislation to allow its joint venture with Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd, ninemsn,
to directly pursue legal action against spammers.
In a submission released late last week, Microsoft said
"intermediaries" such as Internet service providers (ISPs) and
e-mail service providers could help relieve the enforcement
burden on Australia's spam watchdog if the government allowed
them to tackle spammers.
"While [we accept] that the government should be cautious
about providing a broad private right of action that could
encourage frivolous litigation, we recommend that the government
give consideration to allowing standing for those relevant
industry participants with sufficient interest in the legitimacy
of the electronic mail system to enable them to bring proceedings
against spammers", the company said.
The Microsoft submission was one of 64 made to a federal
government inquiry into the Spam Act 2003 that was released late
In a telephone interview, Microsoft Australia's chief security officer Peter Watson said
there was presently no legislation that allowed Microsoft or its joint venture -- and
other so-called intermediaries -- to tackle spammers directly, as
the impact of their activities was primarily on the customer.
He said there had been no response yet from the
In its submission, Microsoft pointed to its legal
successes against spammers in the United States -- where
intermediaries are afforded a private right of action -- as
"illustrative" of the benefits of such an approach.
"Since late 2003, Microsoft has filed over 109 lawsuits in the
United States targeting 17 defendants listed on Spamhaus'
Register of Known Spam Operations.
"To date, 62 of these lawsuits have been resolved favourably,
including Microsoft's most notable and public success against
self-proclaimed 'Spam King' Scott Richter.
"In that case, Microsoft obtained a settlement of US$7
million, of which US$5 million was directly reinvested in
Microsoft-led enforcement initiatives against spam, phishing,
child exploitation and the dissemination of malicious code.
"The Richter case was an example of effective cooperation
between industry and government, particularly the New York
The company said its anti-spam enforcement activity had
produced more than 135 legal actions worldwide.
"Microsoft is not the only industry participant to take such
"We have cooperated with AOL, Earthlink, Yahoo!, Amazon.com
"We see no reason why similar industry efforts could not be
replicated in Australia".