Microsoft, FTC Bust Porn Spammers

The Federal Trade Commission announced on Wednesday that it had charged seven companies with violating various laws related to the labeling of sexual content. Three of the suits seek civil penalties and to stop the organizations from sending out further spam. Four have already been settled, amounting to $1.2 million in penalties.

Microsoft provided assistance to the FTC in tracking down the defendants. "In particular, the FTC supplied Microsoft with a list of domains that were associated with thousands of pornographic spam messages and Microsoft analyzed these domain names against the millions of spam that Microsoft collects in its open 'trap accounts,'" a spokesperson told BetaNews.

The law under which the groups are being sued is something called the "Adult Labeling Rule." Under this law, sexually explicit spam is required to carry the phrase "SEXUALLY EXPLICIT" in the subject line of the message.

The FTC charged that the seven companies violated this law, as well as not providing a method for users to opt-out of the e-mails or providing a postal address.

The companies that have settled so far are BangBros.com of Florida, which settled for $650,000; MD Media of Michigan, settling for $238,743; APC Entertainment of Florida, for $220,000; along with Pure Marketing Solutions, of Florida, and Internet Matrix Technology, of Louisiana, who together will pay $50,000.

The identities of the companies with outstanding suits were TJ Web Productions in Nevada, Cyberheat in Arizona, and Impulse Media, a Washington corporation. The commission unanimously approved the filing of the complaints.

"This x-rated e-mail is electronic flashing," said Lydia Parnes, Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection. "It exposes kids and other unwary consumers to graphic sexual content, and it is unwanted, offensive, and illegal."

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