Like just about everyone else, Francis Uy has no use for spam. In fact, Uy hates spam. He hates it because it fills up his inbox with a lot of offensive junk, and he hates it because of the hassle that it brings to one of the most helpful technologies that has appeared in his lifetime, the Internet.
“Anyone who uses the Internet for business knows how much time and bandwidth it takes to deal with all of that junk,” said Uy.
But unlike just about everyone else, Francis Uy decided to do something about spam. After receiving an unwanted offer to buy anti-virus software, Uy, a tech specialist at Johns Hopkins University, visited the seller’s website and found the name — Allen Moore — and address of the spammer. He then posted that information on another site, where he encouraged site visitors to use Maryland’s anti-spam legislation to sue spammers.
As it turned out, site visitors took a more direct action, calling Moore on the phone and signing him up as a subscriber to magazines that he never subscribed to.
When the issue finally did make it to court, it was Moore who brought it there, claiming that he had received eight harassing telephone calls, more than 200 unwanted magazines and dozens of products that he never ordered. Moore sued Uy for harassment.
On Monday, a Maryland district court judge ruled that Moore was wrong: Uy had not harassed him. At least, Uy hadn’t harassed him any more than a newspaper harasses people whose names are published along with descriptions of their misdeeds. The website could stay, the judge said, and Moore could either take a hike or appeal.