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In the News

- Microsoft in Email-Destruction Flap
- It's Official: Spam Is a Worldwide Plague

==== In the News ====

by Paul Thurrott, thurrott@winnetmag.com

Microsoft in Email-Destruction Flap

Late Friday, a federal judge ordered Microsoft to search for evidence that a senior executive had instructed employees to destroy email records related to the Burst.com lawsuit in 2000. "Do not archive your email," Microsoft Group Vice President Jim Allchin wrote to employees in an email message at a time when the company was "up to its neck in high-stakes litigation," Burst.com Attorney Spencer Hosie said.
"It appears Microsoft as matter of institutional policy has decided to destroy emails in anticipation of litigation," Hosie said, noting that the email-destruction charges are more far-reaching than just the Burst.com case. "Did Microsoft destroy emails that would have been germane to the big \[Department of Justice\] DOJ case? If I were at the \[DOJ\], I would want to know."
US District Judge J. Frederick Motz ordered Microsoft to search for email messages that contained Allchin's instructions to destroy Burst.com-related email; this is the second time Motz has required Microsoft to search its email archives in the Burst.com case. Microsoft said it would comply with the judge's order but admitted no wrongdoing, noting that Allchin's email message was taken out of context. "\[We will\] clarify this matter and show that Mr. Allchin's comments were consistent with a policy that is responsive to any legal requirements and consistent with a policy of efficient management of corporate email," a Microsoft representative said.
Burst.com sued Microsoft for patent infringement in 2002, accusing the company of appropriating its multimedia streaming technologies for use in Windows Media 9 Series products. Burst.com alleges that Microsoft's instant-on streaming technology violates Burst.com's patented Burstware technology. "Burst's claims are without merit, and the technology issue in this court proceeding is based on Microsoft's own work," a Microsoft representative noted.

It's Official: Spam Is a Worldwide Plague

Every day I get hundreds of unwanted spam messages, and I'm not alone. This week, email-monitoring firm MessageLabs announced that more than 80 percent of all email received in the United States is spam. That number is a huge jump from a year ago, when spam accounted for almost 50 percent of all email.
"Twelve months ago we were just about to pass that 50 percent mark. No one thought it could keep up that pace of increase but it has," MessageLabs Marketing Director Brian Czarny said. "We could see percentages in the upper 90s \[within\] a year." Worldwide, spam has had less of an impact than it has in the United States. MessageLabs calculates that, overall, two-thirds of all email sent worldwide is spam. But in some countries the percentages are actually much smaller. For example, in the UK, only 52 percent of email is spam, whereas in Germany the figure is 41 percent.
Part of the problem is that spammers have proven to be resilient despite advances in antispam technology and laws designed to hamper spam. Simple, one-word subject lines often fool antispam products, and even purposeful misspellings are increasingly effective. Last Thursday, the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Technology met to discuss spam and heard testimony from spammers that they simply send out more messages to get around spam filters. And efforts continue to combat spam legally. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are currently investigating numerous spammers.

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