Sunnyvale, CA -- October 28, 2004 --
As part of its continued commitment to protect consumers from unwanted junk e-mail, Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq:YHOO - News), a leading global Internet company, today announced the filing of a lawsuit against "East Coast Exotics Entertainment Group, Inc. and Epoth LLC" for unlawfully sending sexually-explicit bulk spam e-mail messages to Yahoo! Mail users. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Jose, under the federal CAN-SPAM anti-spam law. In conjunction with Yahoo!'s lawsuit, members of the industry's anti-spam alliance, including America Online, EarthLink and Microsoft also announced the filing of lawsuits against unlawful spammers.
"With today's lawsuit against East Coast Exotics Entertainment Group, Inc. and Epoth LLC, we are holding spammers directly accountable for unlawfully disguising their identity and using this practice to deceive e-mail users," said Mike Callahan, senior vice president and general counsel, Yahoo! Inc. "Consumers trust Yahoo! to provide a safe and secure experience, which is why we take an aggressive, multi-faceted approach to protect e-mail users through legal efforts, industry collaboration and technological enhancements."
Allegations described in the complaint include direct violations of the CAN-SPAM law, as listed below. The full complaint can be found at: antispam.yahoo.com.
Violations were also filed under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the California Computer Crime Statute and the civil conspiracy law.
- Sent sexually explicit material in the subject lines of e-mail messages
- Disguised e-mail identity by including false designations of the originating e-mail addresses
- Sent from e-mail accounts obtained for the express purpose of sending spam
- Contained misleading header information to disguise the origin of the messages
- Falsified the transmission path, using open proxies, to disguise the origin of the messages
- Failed to provide a clear option to "opt-out" or unsubscribe from future e-mails
- Failed to include the physical postal address of the sender in the messages
- Failed to indicate that the spam messages were advertisements or solicitations
This is the second round of junk e-mail-related enforcement actions filed by members of the anti-spam alliance, which was founded in April 2003 and is led by Yahoo!, Microsoft, EarthLink and AOL. On March 10, 2004, these companies collaborated to file the first major industry lawsuits against spammers alleging violations under the new CAN-SPAM federal law, which went into effect on January 1, 2004. CAN-SPAM provides strong enforcement tools and allows for harsh, new penalties against large-scale spammers who use tactics of fraud, deceit and evasion to spread their junk e-mail messages.
Information on the other Companies' lawsuits filed today follows:
Additional details of all four companies' lawsuits are available on their respective company press web sites.
- America Online: America Online filed two lawsuits in Federal Court - both naming numerous "John Does" as Defendants and alleging violations of Federal and State laws. One lawsuit is the very first to expressly target "SPIM" for AOL, and the most significant "spimmer" lawsuit ever filed in the industry, as it addresses instant messenger spam and chat room spam. The next lawsuit is the first AOL enforcement action against a spammer peddling controlled substances, including Vicodin and other pharmaceuticals, which are legally available only with a physician's prescription.
- EarthLink: EarthLink filed a lawsuit against numerous "John Doe" defendants who used illegal and deceptive e-mails to advertise prescription drugs available without a legitimate prescription and low mortgage or loan rates, in many cases attempting to collect and re-sell consumers' names and contact information. EarthLink's complaint charges the defendants with violating the CAN-SPAM Act along with other federal and state statutes.
- Microsoft: Today's three lawsuits filed by Microsoft allege that defendants spoofed the domains of all four Internet service providers and used open proxies to route the e-mails. The defendants - one named and two "John Does" - allegedly sent millions of e-mails soliciting herbal growth supplements, mortgage services and get-rich-quick schemes, all in violation of the CAN-SPAM federal law.
On the technical side, these companies collaborated in June to present a host of detailed best practices and technical recommendations for the entire industry in an effort to fight the scourge of spam. Their proposals recommended actions and policies for the entire online industry - and primarily focused on two key issues: helping solve the e-mail forgery problem by eliminating domain spoofing through cryptographic-based solutions and Internet Protocol (IP)-based solutions; and best practices to help prevent ISPs and their customers from being sources of spam.
Yahoo! Inc. is a leading provider of comprehensive online products and services to consumers and businesses worldwide. Yahoo! is the No. 1 Internet brand globally and the most trafficked Internet destination worldwide. Headquartered in Sunnyvale, Calif., Yahoo!'s global network includes 25 world properties and is available in 13 languages.