Spamhaus turns blind eye to U.S. court ruling

A prominent spam research organization based in London will ignore a US$11.7 million judgment against it by a U.S. federal judge since it can’t be enforced in the U.K.

Steven Linford, chief executive officer of the Spamhaus Project, said Friday the lawsuit was filed by David Linhardt, whose e-mail messages that advertised bargain goods were considered spam by his organization. The judgment was handed down on Wednesday in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois.

The Spamhaus Project compiles a constantly updated list of computers that are sending unsolicited bulk e-mail. The list is used by major security and technology vendors, including Microsoft Corp.

The Spamhaus Project has been targeted before in the U.S. by lawsuits from known spammers. Spamhaus officials don’t show up in court, and the result is a default judgment against Spamhaus, Linford said.

Linford said the plaintiffs mislead U.S. judges by claiming Spamhaus is headquartered in the U.S. Spamhaus has even informed spammers that they should file lawsuits in the U.K., but most won’t since their bulk e-mail operations — while often complying with U.S. law — would violate antispam laws in the U.K.

“It’s every spammer’s dream to be able to sue us,” Linford said.

No U.S. bulk mailer has filed a case in the U.K. since under British law foreigners who file lawsuits are responsible for the defendants’ legal fees if they lose, Linford said.

Spam comprises up to 90 percent of all e-mail, and its senders have shown increasing technical proficiency at evading measures to block unsolicited messages, Linford said. The Spamhaus Project blocks some eight billion to 10 billion spam messages a day, he said.