On March 10, 2004, four of the nation’s largest e-mail providers sued hundreds of online marketers under a new CAN SPAM legislation. The lawsuits, filed by EarthLink Inc., Microsoft Corp., Yahoo Inc., and America Online, mark the first time the law has been tested since going into effect in January 2004.
Six lawsuits were filed claiming the defendants obscured their identities and used other deceptive tactics to send out hundreds of millions of pitches for get-rich-quick schemes, pornography and other types of spam. The defendants allegedly falsified return addresses, routed their messages through other computers to cover their tracks, and engaged in deceptive advertising. One group of defendants in Canada allegedly sent nearly 100 million messages to Yahoo customers in January alone and resold the e-mail addresses of those who responded.