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Microsoft planning more spam suits

Following last week's lawsuit against spam address harvesters, Microsoft plans to file three similar suits this week.

Following last week's lawsuit against spam address harvesters, Microsoft plans to file three similar suits this week.

The so-called John Doe lawsuits, to be filed in the federal court for the northern district of California in San Jose, target people alleged to have hit Microsoft's Hotmail servers with a "dictionary" attack, according to a company representative. Such attacks pelt servers with a huge number of random addresses in order to discover valid ones.

The alleged purpose of the attack is to gather, or "harvest," e-mail addresses for spammers.

Like last week's suit, the three new ones don't name defendants but let the plaintiff issue subpoenas as part of the investigative phase of the trial.

The suits come as part of Microsoft's stepped-up efforts against spam, which has long bedeviled its free Web-based Hotmail e-mail service, along with the rest of the Internet.

In addition to legal action, Microsoft has signed up with antispam company BrightMail in an attempt to curb Hotmail's spam problem.

The company this month published an essay urging that lawmakers make harvesting, among other spam activities, a criminal offense.

Lacking such a law, Microsoft based last week's charges on existing federal and California state statutes including the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The company also made trade secrets and trespassing claims.