Are E-mails Trespass?


The Los Angeles Times reports today on the California Supreme Court's hearing on a case that has powerful implications for the future of the Internet. Ken Hamidi, a disgrunted former Intel employee, sent some mass E-mails to other Intel employees. Intel claims that in doing so, he was trespassing.

A short piece I wrote about this case in Reason's April 2002 issue is here. At that point, Intel had won in a lower court in California. The state Supreme Court is now considering the case. An excerpt from my earlier story on the case's significance:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation filed an amicus brief in the case on Hamidi's side. "If left standing, this ruling effectively breaks the Internet," Cindy Cohn, EFF's legal director, said in a press release. "Anyone who sends e-mail messages after having been told not to could risk a lawsuit from recipients." The logic of the majority decision could also apply to unasked-for paper mail, phone calls, or even, as Judge Kolkey [a dissenting lower court judge] pointed out, television or radio transmissions.