Despite so many articles and information on the Internet on how one can collect email addresses legally, people still harvest them.
Recently, Miriam Slater from Santa Barbara and Sara Golden from Los Angeles filed a lawsuit against Tagged.com alleging that the social network deceived them into disclosing their contacts and sent misguiding advertisements to those email addresses.
As per Miriam Slater's complaint, she received an email from an associate who wanted to share some photographs. Slater paid a visit to the site and entered the information required to see the photos only to later realize that she had become a registered member of the site. She also said that the she received no notification from the site about the registration.
In her complaint, Sara Golden said that she received an invitation to register with the social network, which seemed to have been sent by Miriam Slater. Both Slater and Golden stated that Tagged.com violated a range of laws including the Federal Stored Communications Act and Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
Internet law expert, Venkat Balasubramani said that it won’t be easy to prove that Tagged.com violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse act because the site may not have actually accessed the plaintiffs’ computers but information stored on email accounts, and neither Sara nor Miriam paid any money because of the emails.
Irrespective of the outcome, this case highlights how important it is to get permission from people before sending them any kind of emails. Companies or websites need to be extra careful when they want a person to sign on for any kind of service or communication.
They also need to realize that it’s risky to assume that people will not have a problem providing their contact details; especially when money is involved. If they make assumptions of the sort, they may end up breaking laws and going to prison or paying a big fine. Such practices may also inflict irreparable damage to one’s reputation.
Users should also be careful and alert when they respond to such emails. For example, if recipients see a suspicious looking mail from a known contact, they should confirm if the sender has really sent the email. Such simple techniques will definitely make it more difficult for spammers to harvest email addresses.