Massive Spamming is Illegal - Court
When the owner of a computer consents to receive e-mail from a sender, it is not an unlimited consent. Recently, the Court upheld an appeal by the Director of Public Prosecutions that an employee of a company who had implied consent to e-mail it and who then subjected the company to an e-mail ‘bombing’ attack (where a huge volume of e-mail is directed at the server and which is normally designed to overwhelm the recipient’s system) could be guilty of an offence under the Computer Misuse Act 1990 (CMA). In this case the man had sent over ½ million e-mails to his employer’s firm. In the first instance, the Magistrates’ Court had ruled that there was no case to answer.
The appeal was successful on the basis that the e-mail campaign was an ‘unauthorised modification of the contents’ of the computer, which is an offence under section 3 of the CMA. The employee will accordingly have to return to the Magistrates’ Court and enter a plea against the charge.
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