Kris Rallapalli, President of Kepnet, caught the spammer abusing his network by sending large quantities of unsolicited e-mail messages. By filing a suit in small claims court, Rallapalli took advantage of California Assembly Bill 1676, passed in the summer of 1998, which makes it easier for ISPs to collect damages from spammers.
"Our objective with the suit was simply to collect those damages that were tangible," Rallapalli said. "That is, the number of hours it took us to find the problem and minimize its adverse effect on the network. It didn't include potential harm to our reputation."
Until this new law took effect, ISPs had to bear the burden of costs associated with repairing network damage due to spammers, who send mass e-mail messages using an ISP's network facilities. This can cause jams and sometimes crash servers. The new law expands and clearly enumerates the list of prohibited advertising practices to include spamming, making such activity illegal and allowing significant punitive penalties.
"I hope that other ISPs in California will pursue this kind of action if they have spammers, too." Rallapalli said after the verdict. "Because now there is legal recourse they can take." Using small claims court expedited the process for Kepnet. "It was fast and inexpensive," added Rallapalli. "We didn't even need an attorney, and the judge's decision came back in just a few weeks."