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Canada: It's OK to cancel spam accounts

Sending unsolicited commercial email violates generally accepted practice, and ISPs that require subscribers to follow such "Netiquette" are justified, an Ontario judge says.

Sending unsolicited commercial email violates generally accepted Internet practices, and service providers that require subscribers to follow such "Netiquette" are justified in terminating the accounts of spammers, a Canadian judge has ruled.

The ruling, issued by a judge from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, appears to be the first time a court has ruled that spam violates Netiquette. The decision is being hailed by opponents of spam because it gives Internet service providers greater latitude in terminating service to spammers.

But it is only one of more than a handful of decisions to rule that the rights of spammers are limited, said Dave Kramer, an attorney at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosatti who has done legal battle with spammers.

"This is another in the uninterrupted line of cases finding that spamming is an impermissible and unconscionable practice," Kramer said.

The decision concerned Toronto ISP Nexx Online's decision to terminate the service to a client that allegedly was sending almost 200,000 unsolicited commercial emails each day. The client sued, claiming that Nexx had breached its contract. Nexx argued that it was justified in terminating the service because the client had violated a provision of the service agreement promising to follow Netiquette.

The judge agreed with Nexx.

"Sending unsolicited bulk commercial email is in breach of the emerging principles of Netiquette, unless it is specifically permitted in the governing contract," the judge wrote in denying the client's motion for an order requiring Nexx to restore service.