Earthlink Okayed For Incorrectly Booting Non-Spammer

from the interesting-questions... dept

A federal appeals court has sided with Earthlink in a fascinating case that raises a number of legal issues. The case resulted from Earthlink’s move to cut off someone that had been accused of spamming. Earthlink quickly realized that they had kicked him off mistakenly and did whatever they could to make amends. They offered a public apology, offered to reinstate the account and forwarded the 16 emails that had accumulated during the time he was banned. While it was bad that they kicked him off like that, at least they did their best to respond after they realized the mistake. However, here’s where it gets more confusing. The account was never re-established, though both sides accuse the other for that happening. Earthlink, though, kept collecting emails to that account, assuming that they would get delivered when the account was re-activated. If anything, they probably thought they were doing a good deed, rather than confusing senders about why the email wasn’t working. However, the guy went back and said they never should have disconnected him and that hanging onto his mail counted as an unlawful wiretap. Part of his claim is that an ISP is a “public service” and shouldn’t be allowed to just disconnect users at will (which might alarm you if you’re a spam fighter). The judge, though, pointed out that Earthlink has no responsibilities as a public service provider, and there’s no “wiretap” problem since it was part of what Earthlink did in delivering email anyway.

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