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Microsoft E-Mail Looks Like Spam to Some Recipients

The e-mail said that by doing so, customers can manage their accounts, such as instructing the company on what type of information they want to receive.

A leading authority on spam laws said Microsoft's approach has several problems.

Chief executive Steven A. Ballmer's mass e-mail promoting Microsoft products has caused a stir among spam opponents. (Phelan M. Ebenhack -- AP)

_____Spam In The News_____
Jury Finds 2 Guilty of Felony Spam (The Washington Post, Nov 4, 2004)
Political Spam Pervades Personal Computers (washingtonpost.com, Nov 2, 2004)
Va. Spam Trial Reaches Closing Arguments (The Washington Post, Nov 2, 2004)
More Spam News
_____More About Microsoft_____
Microsoft Profit Up 11%; Forecast Is Mixed (The Washington Post, Oct 22, 2004)
Microsoft Releases New 'Critical' Patches (washingtonpost.com, Oct 12, 2004)
Monti Reflects On Evolution Of Antitrust (The Washington Post, Oct 7, 2004)
Microsoft Judge Skeptical (The Washington Post, Oct 2, 2004)
E.U. Regulators Say Microsoft Had Agreed to Sanctions (The Washington Post, Oct 1, 2004)
Report: Microsoft

"The Can-Spam Act requires that there be a clear and conspicuous" notice of how to unsubscribe from future mailings, said David E. Sorkin, an associate professor at the John Marshall law school in Chicago. "It's not clear to me this message even has one."

He said Congress did not intend for people to have to provide additional information to a bulk e-mailer to be removed from a list.

"That seems to me to be a clear violation of the statute," Sorkin said.

Sorkin criticized the section of the message that implies that no further mailing will be sent unless asked for by the recipient. "That's a classic thing found in spam," he said, noting that a bulk mailer could continually make that promise and then keep sending e-mail.

Sundwall said Microsoft's lawyers reviewed the mailings and determined that they complied with the Can-Spam Act.

"Customers who have registered their e-mail address with us always maintain the right to opt out of future e-mails," Sundwall said. "When such action is requested, we immediately remove them from future customer communications."

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