Microsoft Wins Right to Kill Vast Spam Network

It's a shame that Microsoft (MSFT) had to go to court to shut down a vast network of computers that spread spam and viruses across the Internet. But in a nation of laws, the world's largest software company had not choice. Fortunately, the case was not in the legal system for long. Microsoft filed a suit in federal court on Monday, February 21st that, "targets a botnet identified as Waledac. It accuses 27 unnamed 'John Doe' defendants of violating federal laws against computer crime," according to The Wall Street Journal.Microsoft's victory gave Microsoft the right to shut down 277 internet domains which have links to thousands of PC that are programmed to distribute spam, the paper reported.

A study done by Microsoft last year found that 97% of all e-mail sent over the web is unwanted. Most of those messages are caught in e-mail filters, but many messages, like those that offer wire transfers of money from Nigeria in exchange for a person's social security number and bank account details, sometimes are not.

One issue that could be challenged in court is whether the ruling violates the right to free speech. Messages with harmless, legitimate offers may be unwanted by the recipients, but may not be malicious, damage the recipient's PC operations or make offers that are illegal or illegitimate.

The trouble with spam is that its creators are ever inventive, and that makes filtering it out a continuing challenge. According to the Guardian, creators of spam now target comments on blogs and social networks.

The victory by Microsoft is just one in a long line of efforts that will be needed to keep harmful messages and code from being circulated on the public Internet.

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