The New York attorney general Andrew Cuomo has announced he intends to prosecute social networking site tagged.com for an illegal plan to lure new members and artificially inflate traffic on its site.
Cuomo said that the site tricked users into providing the company with their personal email address books, which were then used to send out millions of spam messages urging the recipients to view private photos posted by friends.
“This company stole the address books and identities of millions of people. Consumers had their privacy invaded and were forced into the embarrassing position of having to apologise to all their email contacts for Tagged’s unethical – and illegal – behavior,” said Cuomo.
“This very virulent form of spam is the online equivalent of breaking into a home, stealing address books, and sending phony mail to all of an individual’s personal contacts. We would never accept this behavior in the real world, and we cannot accept it online.”
The company broke the law in that it pretended that the spam messages had come from individual members rather than from the company itself. Recipients would have to sign up for the site in order to view the photographs, which is some cases did not exist.
Tagged.com suspended its email campaign in June after complaints but by then 60 million emails had already been sent.
Cuomo is one of the most aggressive government officials when it comes to prosecuting technology companies. He has successfully brought actions against Dell, Symantec, McAfee and others and is carrying out investigations into Intel and Facebook.
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