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Fwd: Re: Trespass via Electrons! NO pyramid scheme! 31982

By wji in Internet
Sun Dec 16, 2001 at 06:42:23 PM EST
Tags: Freedom (all tags)
Freedom

Sure, unsolicited e-mails are annoying. If your employees were recieving mass e-mail about how evil their corporation is, how it runs sweatshops and spies on customers, they might even be defamatory (assuming it wasn't true, anyway). So, after you've tried blocking out the mails and asked the spammer to stop, you might just want to launch a libel suit.


Unless you're Intel, that is. In that case, you due the spammer for -- get this -- trespassing. And if your attorneys are impressive enough, you win.


The case is called Intel v. Hamidi and it's, frankly, surreal. Ken Hamidi, an ex-employee of Intel, is now a member (and, by the looks of it, the only member) of Former and Current Employees of Intel (FACE Intel). They claim to reveal the truth about Intel's evil business practices, callous layoffs, sweatshop working conditions, subliminal mind control, etc, etc, etc. As part of his FACE Intel activities, Hamidi fired off some 30,000 e-mails to current Intel employees. Intel responded by slapping Hamidi with a suit for 'trespass to chattels'.


Let's back up a moment here. Ken Hamidi sent e-mails -- packets of data read by e-mail servers and sent to users on a network -- to Intel employees. Nothing physical actually entered any Intel property. Fine, say the attorneys, but

"Hamidi's e-mail blitzes to its network after Intel told him to stop...[used] the Intel system in a way that diminished its value."

The Intel lawyers are plainly bending over backwards in an attempt to transplant a libel suit into a trespass suit in order to shut down Hamidi's First Amendment right to speech. They write,

"Hamidi's activity amounts to leafleting inside Intel's plant, which constitutes a real property trespass to which the First Amendment provides no defense."


Despite the fact that the Intel lawyers don't seem to know the difference between an electron and a trespasser, they've been disturbingly sucessful in this case. The trial judge, in over his head, already ruled in favor of Intel, and on December 11 a California Court of Appeal ruled 2-1 for Intel. The dissenting judge wrote:

"Under Intel's theory, even lovers' quarrels could turn into trespass suits by reason of the receipt of unsolicited letters or calls from the jilted lover. Imagine what happens after the angry lover tells her fiancée not to call again and violently hangs up the phone. Fifteen minutes later the phone rings. Her fiancée wishing to make up? No, tresspass to chattel."


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Fwd: Re: Trespass via Electrons! NO pyramid scheme! 31982 | 21 comments (14 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
Trespass... (3.00 / 3) (#4)
by seebs on Sun Dec 16, 2001 at 03:03:56 PM EST

Sure sounds like trespassing to me. IANAL, but I've listened to lawyers talking about this, and there are *SEVERAL* previous cases holding that email to a private network can constitute trespassing.

Anyway, if you think this is silly, please agree not to, under any circumstances, complain or try to stop me if I flood your private network with traffic you don't want which is harmful to your interests. Obviously, it would be wrong for you to claim any kind of damage or trespassing, because you made fun of it in this oh-so-coherent article.

Nope. (1.50 / 2) (#7)
by wji on Sun Dec 16, 2001 at 03:21:54 PM EST

Hamidi sent off e-mails to a lot of Intel employees around the world. This wasn't even remotely a case of mailbombing.

So, are you making fun of what I've actually said, or are you making fun of your stereotypical view of whatever group [Open Source 4evR slashdot-style kiddies, maybe] you have decided I belong to?

In conclusion, the Powerpuff Girls are a reactionary, pseudo-feminist enterprise.
[ Parent ]

Private property... (3.50 / 2) (#17)
by seebs on Sun Dec 16, 2001 at 11:27:23 PM EST

Sorry, but no. Intel owns those mail servers. If you say they can't tell people to stay off, then you have *NO* grounds for complaint if someone else uses your property against your will.

Once again, look at prior legal art, and consider the difference between generic trespass and trespass to chattel. They're not saying "you were on our land", they're saying "you made unauthorized use of our property", which is precisely correct.

I am making fun of what you said. Your view is so totally distinct from how trespass is defined as to be frightening; I am very concerned to know that there are people who have access to computers, and don't believe that a private entity should be allowed to say "leave my computers alone" and have it stick.

By contrast, if Hamidi had been sending mail *not to Intel's computers*, but merely to their employees, he would have been a lowlife spamming scum indistinguishable from Sanford Wallace, but I don't think Intel would have had any direct course of action against him.



[ Parent ]
Making use of (none / 0) (#20)
by Ludwig on Mon Dec 17, 2001 at 11:45:59 AM EST

Intel and its employees are the only ones "making use" of Intel's mail servers. If the guy had hacked in and set up an IMAP account for himself, that would be trespass to chattel. MX records are public; you can't illicitly make unauthorized use of something that requires no authorization to use in the first place. If I stand on the sidewalk outside your house holding up placards, I may be harrassing you, but I'm not making unauthorized use of your windows.

[ Parent ]
Re: Trespass... (3.50 / 2) (#8)
by thedward on Sun Dec 16, 2001 at 03:24:34 PM EST

Well, I certainly don't think it is trespassing, but I do think it is probably wrong. And likely more clearly illegal under different laws. I might be willing to accept "theft of service" as a possible legal label for it. Just becuase someone thinks it shouldn't count as trespassing doesn't mean they are all for it.

[ Parent ]
Huh. (5.00 / 1) (#18)
by ksandstr on Mon Dec 17, 2001 at 10:32:11 AM EST

Sure sounds like trespassing to me. IANAL, but I've listened to lawyers talking about this, and there are *SEVERAL* previous cases holding that email to a private network can constitute trespassing.
Be careful. That's a very very thin line between two awfully tall poles you're walking there.

Personally, I wouldn't consider making use of a service that is entirely available to the general public (i.e. a SMTP MTA pointed to in a MX record somewhere) trespassing. This is, of course, according to Finnish law (AFAIK, and I wouldn't be surprised if the u.s. version were more severely fucked up), where you cannot sue someone for walking into a store you own during business hours and rationally expect to win.

Certainly, if the culprit has used something inside Intel's private network (i.e. something that's either entirely air-/firewalled off the Internet so that a clear border exists in the network's topology) it'd certainly be trespassing. If no firewall piercing is used, I'd call it "adminstrator inadequacy" if the e-mails received have a signature that they could have used to filter the unwanted crap out, or denial of service if the amount of traffic grows large enough to completely smother the network's access to the Internet.

Looking at this particular case, I'd say the poster of the article is pretty close to the truth in saying that Intel's lawyers are, in this case, undertaking significant contortions to avoid "special attention" from civil rights groups and the like.



Fin.
[ Parent ]
Use of a public place... (3.50 / 2) (#19)
by seebs on Mon Dec 17, 2001 at 11:08:06 AM EST

I can't sue you for walking into a store.

I *CAN*, however, ask you to leave, and expect you to leave. If you don't leave, you're trespassing.

Your right to be on private property which is "open to the public" ends when the owner tells you to leave.

The spammer did not stop when he was asked to; that's the same as the drunk guy who won't leave the store when the management tells him he needs to go home. The cops can bust him, and with good reason.


[ Parent ]
Free speech verses Listening (2.66 / 3) (#9)
by jesterzog on Sun Dec 16, 2001 at 04:05:22 PM EST

As part of his FACE Intel activities, Hamidi fired off some 30,000 e-mails to current Intel employees. Intel responded by slapping Hamidi with a suit for 'trespass to chattels'.

[---snip---]

The Intel lawyers are plainly bending over backwards in an attempt to transplant a libel suit into a trespass suit in order to shut down Hamidi's First Amendment right to speech.

Based on other parts of the story, I'm assuming that you mean he sent them through Intel's network.

If he contacts Intel employees via the Intel network then he's contacting Intel, and you've clearly included the point that Intel asked him to stop. I'm sure he'd have the right to go on trying to speak to them, but where does it stop if it's not swamping Intel's network with 30,000 emails? On many networks that could constitute a denial of service. If he wanted to contact Intel employees, wouldn't it make more sense to get them outside of the workplace where Intel doesn't have jurisdiction?

I think I agree with what you're saying about it not necessarily being trespass, but also from what you've said I'm skeptical about how you could argue for a right to free speech.

But then, I'm not coming from an American point of view. Maybe it's because locally we don't get subsidised Internet and have to pay noticible amounts to recieve traffic, so setting up a procmail filter doesn't solve every spam problem.


jesterzog Fight the light


Network wasn't swamped (4.00 / 2) (#11)
by wji on Sun Dec 16, 2001 at 05:03:01 PM EST

Sure, but the network wasn't swamped or DOSd by the mass mailings. We're talking 30,000 e-mails to various people at various different plants or office buildings, not all to one location. I'm guessing he used his knowledge of how the company e-mail system was set up to get a bunch of valid adresses for Intel employees, which would explain why he didn't just mail them at home.

Paying to recieve traffic must suck. I'm Canadian, though. Same thing, only we get mad when we get called American. :)

In conclusion, the Powerpuff Girls are a reactionary, pseudo-feminist enterprise.
[ Parent ]

Hamidi (2.25 / 4) (#12)
by J'raxis on Sun Dec 16, 2001 at 05:28:13 PM EST

...has a right to say most anything he wants. His method of delivery and location thereof are not covered under the First Amendment.

What he did does amount to tresspass, whether or not it was politically-motivated or whether or not you agree with his statements. In fact this kind of argument is usually made in rebuttal to most spam: “You have a right to say what you want, you do not have a right to knock my door down and force me to listen to it.”

— The Raxis

[ J’raxis·Com | Liberty in your lifetime ]

Doesn't follow (3.33 / 3) (#13)
by wji on Sun Dec 16, 2001 at 05:55:22 PM EST

By your argument, Congress could simply say 'we approve of free speech, but not through sound, text, electricity, or electromagnetic waves.' Besides being patronizing - yes, I know that having some speech component does not make anything automatically protected under the first amendment - you're not talking about the actual situation. Hamidi sent e-mail to people. That e-mail caused an inconvenience to Intel. Well, guess what? Intel doesn't have a god-given right to be secure against inconvenience. If Hamidi had broken into an Intel plant to yell at employees, that would be trespassing, regardless of his motives. Sending unwanted e-mail is hardly gaining unauthorized access to someone's property.

In conclusion, the Powerpuff Girls are a reactionary, pseudo-feminist enterprise.
[ Parent ]
Um...actually... (3.66 / 3) (#14)
by UncleMikey on Sun Dec 16, 2001 at 06:04:11 PM EST

...any private entity -- corporations included -- has the legal (we'll leave G-d out of this for now) right to to be secure against inconvenience *on their own property*.

At first blush, I have to say that I actually like the idea of treating this as trespass -- especially if the notion can be expanded to mass-marketing, as well :-).

If I tell you, "This is my property; stay out," and you don't stay out, then by American and, as far as I know, British and Canadian law, as well, that's trespass. If you send me e-mail and I tell you to stop and you don't, then at the very least, it's harrassment, but if I also own the server machine you're sending the e-mail to, then I have to agree, it's trespass. You're illegally entering my property.

Since Intel owns the machines in question, and therefore owns all the e-mail accounts in question -- e-mail through one's employer belongs to the employer, remember -- then if they said, "Don't do that" and he kept doing it, it is at least harrassment, and sounds very much like trespass.


--
[ Uncle Mikey | Radio Free Tomorrow ]
[ Parent ]
Lover's quarrel (2.50 / 2) (#16)
by fluffy grue on Sun Dec 16, 2001 at 07:10:18 PM EST

How's the example at the end any different from the all-too-easy abuse of anti-stalking laws? Any law can be abused by those who see fit.
--
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]

I run a mailserver (3.66 / 3) (#21)
by SkullOne on Mon Dec 17, 2001 at 10:06:41 PM EST

... and I would like to think of it as private property. Generaly, I allow anyone to send me mail, but I do block a lot of people from sending anything to my server. This should be the same as personal property, I let people walk onto my lawn, let their dogs poop on it (if they clean it up) and generaly people who want to come to my house are generaly welcome, but if someone abuses my property, then I'll ask them to never come here again. If they returned I could get them for trespassing. If someone evaded my mail blocking rules enough, yes, I would consider that trespassing, especialy if it was a corporate mail server that must be treated in a professional manner. If any of you think anyone should be able to spam anyone as much as they would like, with no fear of retribution, then you are essentialy promoting spam/trespassing.

Fwd: Re: Trespass via Electrons! NO pyramid scheme! 31982 | 21 comments (14 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
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