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Microsoft to Fight Crime With Spammer's Millions 310

daria42 writes "It looks as if the $7 million Microsoft won from spam king Scott Richter won't go into a Swiss bank account and never be seen again after all. The company plans to dedicate a cool $5 mil to helping law enforcement agencies address computer-related crimes. Another $1 million will go to New York State to "expand computer-related skills training for youths and adults", with the rest being flagged to pay Microsoft's legal costs."
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Microsoft to Fight Crime With Spammer's Millions

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  • Hmm... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Darren Winsper ( 136155 ) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @08:12AM (#13293430)
    Does this mean we're going to see Bill Gates in a bizarre spandex outfit combating spammers around the world? I smell a Ben Affleck film!
  • by Gopal.V ( 532678 ) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @08:15AM (#13293462) Homepage Journal
    a cool $5 mil to helping law enforcement agencies address computer-related crimes.

    Crimes like piracy of Windows ?. Patent policing ?. More SCO like allegations on newer projects that imitate or duplicate Microsoft products ?.

    Another $1 million will go to New York State to "expand computer-related skills training for youths and adults"

    Train them to use Outlook, Word and Excel or do they mean .NET,C# and Monad ?. Sort of catch them young approach ?.

    I've seen a lot of Microsoft charity - it's often just building a new market for themselves, locking in an expanding market or blatant tax evasionary steps . They sent 250 XP Cds to a school and mark the cost as donations. I went on TV to help FSF guys call foul on that in Kerala - apparently it seems to have made some impact there (they teach about using OpenOffice and FireFox now).

    Essentially the money is in Microsoft's pockets and they are trying for Maximum ROI, rather than paying it out as dividends to their shareholders right now.

    • You ARE aware 5 million, distributed amongst the shareholders, would result in a fraction of a cent per share?

      10.68 billion shares spreading 5 million....I doubt the shareholders would lose much sleep over it. This is essentially free money for MS that they decided to give for some PR.

      Basically I agree with you but disagree that possible dividends should even be invoked.
    • Sounds like Microsoft really can't win whatever they do.

      Crimes like piracy of Windows ?. Patent policing ?. More SCO like allegations on newer projects that imitate or duplicate Microsoft products ?.

      That's pretty baseless speculation, it could just as easily be stopping financial fraud or breaking online paedophile rings. I doubt the law enforcement agencies are going to be complaining about getting this extra money from Microsoft, I think we can give them the benefit of the doubt on this one for the
      • Sounds like Microsoft really can't win whatever they do.

        They could win if they do the right thing, and not just as a PR stunt. Look at big evil IBM lately.

        So I suppose Bill Gates putting billions of his own $$$ into AIDS research in the developing world is just looking for ROI too?

        I'm sure he genuinely feels some joy in giving to a good cause. Should we let this distract us from Bill Gates' bad behavior? Does that now make everything okay?

        Read the book... Big Blue: IBM's Use and Abuse of
        • "They could win if they do the right thing, and not just as a PR stunt."

          Well for fuck's sake, what would "the right thing" be? Clothing and shelter for homeless children? No, because they're obviously just ensuring a future market for themselves. Feeding starving Africans? Nothing but a PR move. Toppling Robert Mugabe's regime in Zimbabwe and installing a democratic government? Clearly on a power trip.

          The other poster had it right. Microsoft can't win in your eyes. So why should they even try to do anything
      • So I suppose Bill Gates putting billions of his own $$$ into AIDS research in the developing world is just looking for ROI too?
        Of course! Just think of all the extra Windows users that will grow up to purchase MS software!
  • First, I'd rather Microsoft come out on top than spammers.

    But I am interested and baffled by the concept of "punitive damages" and how they are paid to the litigating party rather than to the general tax revenue base. If a company or person is to be punished for doing something wrong, shouldn't the government be the one to mete out that punishment? Why should a private citizen or company be allowed to reap the windfall of punitive damages? I think the justice system turns the court into a lottery by allo
    • This was a settlement, not a judgement. Hence no punative damages.
    • Not that I don't think that Microsoft isn't doing this out of self-serving long term planning, but I do agree with the action (perhaps not their guiding principle).

      What's wrong with the guiding principle of a company acting in its own interest? MS will have a better future if people are happier when sitting down in front of their products and not getting killed with spam. MS will have lower costs if their own Hotmail, MSN, and other systems aren't choking on spam. If every company, and every person, acte
    • I agree with you on multiple counts. First off, while Microsoft and spammers are both evil, at least you have the choice not to be subjected to Microsoft products. Spam is all about eliminating the ability to choose whether you receive their e-mail or not.

      And second, I agree that punitive damages shouldn't go into the hands of the plaintiff, but should be used to benefit society as a whole. As long as actual damages to the plaintiff are covered, anything above that is just an undeserved windfall. The po
    • On the other hand, there are plenty of instances where the government gets money and it shouldn't. For instance, some guy is speeding and hits my car. Police give him several tickets for failing to obey speed, control car, wear seatbelt, etc. Who does the guy pay his tickets to? The State. Now my car was damaged, but the State figured out a way to make money out of it. How does that work out?

      Some guy breaks into a house and gets caught. He does some time, for which the tax payers pay his room and board, and
  • by cloudmaster ( 10662 ) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @08:19AM (#13293484) Homepage Journal
    This appeared to be a straightforward case, but somehow I can still see the lawyer, holding his pinkie to his mouth and saying "Sure, I can help you prosecute this spammer. For one million dollars!"
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 11, 2005 @08:23AM (#13293507)
    No surprise the the article and comments have taken the sarcastic and cynical route. You guys here seem to never be satisfied with anything Microsoft does.

    The fact is Microsoft has no obligation to use this money to do anything. But they make a nice gesture, and nobody here can say one positive word? There's not one good outcome out of this?

    The bitterness with Microsoft got old and stale 10 years ago. It's past time you people gave up this hatred and obsession with the 'Borg'.
    • I don't know about you or the other /.ers, but I certainly distrust Microsoft for everything they do. It's not misantropy or pessimism, but experience from the past. Whatever MS did or announced to do, everything they ever made, produced or started was primarily to support their own interests, corner the competition or gain an advantage somehow. Although this is the usual and expected behavior of a for-profit organization, Microsoft certainly proved time and again having nearly no moral obligations to thems
    • So giving $5 Million, even if it were to charity, should excuse all of Microsoft's bad behavior?

      The sarcastic and cynical attitude are well deserved. Microsoft worked hard to earn it.

      $5 Million? The vague, and possibly self-serving purpose of "fight crime" ?
    • by dustmite ( 667870 ) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @11:48AM (#13295017)

      The bitterness with Microsoft got old and stale 10 years ago.

      Oh ... and there I was under the impression that the anti-MS sentiment was about the fact that the company actually continues to behave unethically to this day, not about whether or not it was "fashionable" or "not fashionable" to be anti-MS ... silly me. I didn't realise bashing Microsoft "was, like, so yesterday!"

      Your post reminds me of how Nike successfully turned around rising negative sentiment against the company over their sweatshop labour practices by creating a clever youth-targeted ad campaign that manipulated young people into simply thinking it was no longer "cool" to whine about the sweatshop labour because the topic was, well, 'so yesterday'. Of course they never stopped the sweatshop labour practices.

      Are we so divorced from reality that our opinions about serious, real-life problems are now mostly based on how "hot", "current" or "fashionable" a topic is, rather than on, you know, facts?

  • ...but I'd like to see if the $5M is actual cash, or an equivalent amount of Microsoft product. Many companies donate product and use their MSRP in calculating the value of a donation, then spin that into a nice story where they talk about their generosity. Is the money they donate going to be in the form of infrastructure software, end-user applications, and company-specific training, or will it be cash to specific organisations for the purpose of hiring, training, and equipping personnel.

    Also, which ag

  • I don't know what sort of taxes are on that kind of income, but "giving" away to law enforcement most likely means that more of that $5 million is going to end up together at the same place. If MS keep it, most likely a good chunk would be taxed and a little bit of it would end up every where. Law Enforcement would end up with some money, but it'd more be like $500-$5,000 instead of $5,000,000. Donating money like this is great for MS.
    1. The money is spent directly on objectives that MS wants to help.
    2. The
  • Why don't they start by handing themselves in?
  • My Thoughts (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CrashRoX ( 783286 ) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @09:37AM (#13293968)
    There's a whole lot of back and forth going on here. The only thing everyone can agree on is that the spammer deserved the fine. Now everyone wants to know why Microsoft is entitled to that fine? I personally believe they are entitled to it. First and most obvious they are the ones that created the law suit and did the actual suing. Microsoft isn't a government agency, what they win shouldn't be stripped from them. In all honesty if Microsoft didn't sue this guy, he would probably still be spamming. In which case no one is better off. Secondly anyone and everyone can sue. I know I'm going to get shit about how the American legal system sucks and blah blah blah. But that's a perk/pitfall of living in this country. As far as Microsoft donating the money, it's a brilliant move from a business standpoint. As mentioned earlier the cost of an advertising campaign would far exceed that of the $5m donation. The donation created goodwill and great PR. It's almost impossible to put a price on goodwill. People need to stop looking at Microsoft (and other corporations) as a public service. These companies exist to make money. Period. Microsoft did a good thing, they are the heroes here. They are the only ones who stood up against this guy and dished out the cash to do it. Yes the Million bucks in legal fees is pocket change to them. But I don't see anyone else willing to anti up. Plus if you really wanted an argument to show they are directly affected. They own an email service. I'm sure millions of this guys email has gone through there servers at some point, costing them money and inconveniencing clients. Congratulations Microsoft on your victory!

    Everyone who thinks that Gates is going to dress up in a batman costume is very wrong. The costume would be more like Howard Sterns fart man!
  • that Microsoft acquired from its customers via the illegal leveraging of its monopoly? Is Microsoft going to donate that to the Justice Department to help it fight corporate abuse?
  • by any chance in coupon form only redeemable for software from a certain software company?

  • NY Law enforcement (Score:3, Interesting)

    by inode_buddha ( 576844 ) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @10:08AM (#13294214) Journal
    As a resident of NY, I'm actually in favor of this, even though I'm a linux die-hard. I *really* hope NY doesn't just toss this into the General Fund and lose it on some left-wing pork barrel project. That sort of thing is all too common here; the highway tolls were supposed to disappear years ago, and yet the tolls are still there. The power company in my part of the state is the single largest land-owner, and yet it pays no taxes. So, I really hope these MS funds are used for cyber-crime law enforcement. FWIW I think very highly of the police here; they usually require at least a 4-year degree and military/para-military background in my area. So, these guys tend to be big, strong, and smart. That doesn't mean they know jack-all about computer crimes or even computers. So if this means they get some computer crime training, that's fine with me. There are some *big* dataenters and backbone here, so I imagine the field is ripe.
  • In solidarity with Microsoft, American Airlines is donating a Jesus-shaped peanut to be sold on ebay. The profits will go towards fighting terrorism and making the skies safer.
  • Is reflected in today's cartoon [] by David Horsey in the Seattle-PI.

    We need to come up with something more agressive and effective. I for one am a fan of the much discussed idea DOS attacks against the spammers websites, despite the moral and ethical issues people have raised. A nice side effect is that it will somewhat discourage ISPs from hosting them also.
  • The world's largest piece of humble pie was served to and eaten by over 800000 slashdot users...with a side of ice cream and peanut m&m's..
  • expand computer-related skills training for youths and adults

    Is that computer skills, or the use of Windows Software, Hotmail and MSNSearch?
  • indocrinate them into Windows.
  • which is the american government?
  • (or should I say acronym):


    Looking forward to Microsoft RoboCop v1.0 (SP3, plus KB990212 to address the gun-holster jamming caused by the earlier KB990112 patch for the 'erroneous firing into crowds of civilians' issue).

"It takes all sorts of in & out-door schooling to get adapted to my kind of fooling" - R. Frost