Many Windows Live Messenger users are probably hoping that with its civil lawsuit against a company named Funmobile, Microsoft is just beginning an ongoing effort to reduce spim. Microsoft Associate General Counsel, Internet Safety Enforcement, Tim Cranton wrote on the Microsoft on the Issues blog yesterday that an initial complaint was filed in June, without specifying company names, and that this lawsuit requests that the King County Superior Court both assign monetary damages and stop spimming activity -- and access to any Microsoft systems -- by the Hong Kong-based company. Writes Cranton: "Above all, we hope the lawsuit will send a clear message to all potential perpetrators that this kind of activity is not tolerated on our networks."
Well, it has been tolerated for quite some time, unfortunately, and my company is just one of the many that has suffered at least some hit to productivity as a result. The staff here relies heavily upon IM throughout the workday and beyond as an always-on communication tool. While perhaps I and others could cease using Windows Live Messenger to avoid the approximately 10 to 20 spims we get per day (I get around 20, others say they're not up to that rate yet), that isn't really a solution, since the problem exists on the other IM clients we use, as well. And in the case of some businesses, the other leading problem with all this spim is the danger that someone will fall victim to the phishing attempts and have data stolen. Around here, it's more of a serious nuisance.
As far as the consequences for Microsoft, Cranton lists these as reasons behind the legal action:
- Compromised privacy and security for users
- Loss of tool utility (and fun) for users
- Strain on Microsoft servers from additional traffic, and threat to timely processing of legitimate messages
- Violation of the Microsoft Service Agreement, and Code of Conduct and terms of service for Windows Live
That last item points to the fact that Microsoft, of course, wants and needs third-party developers to robustly create new companion services. Losing end users who become too frustrated or scared by spim is only exacerbated when those developers are driven away, as well.
Internetnews.com lists details on previous complaints against Funmobile over various business practices. Microsoft says some 320 million users have accounts on Windows Live Messenger. This complaint does not specify how many of those users have been and continue to be affected by Funmobile and other spimmers that may be next on the lawyers' list.