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email site potential legal problem?

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seeker

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I have a question for the people that know legal matters.
If I brand a site to offer free email to the public, and they misuse it, such as spamming, sending death threats, conning people...etc...etc....

Am I responsible, or to better word it, can 'someone' take legal action against myself or my company?

Of course, before they create the account, they have to accept the terms which strictly prohibit such activity, but i wonder about the legal isues.

Thank you.
 
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Domagon

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Possibly, but realistically, the biggest problems with offering free email is that your domain will likely end up on many spam-block lists due to abuse by your users ... even a few abusive users can wreck havoc; email can burn up a lot of resources on a server ... something to consider as well.

If you outsource your free email, then some of the risks from abuse users will be greatly minimized, but not totally eliminated.

From my experience, speaking with many webmasters with free email, most have relatively few problems other than the various issues related to spam.

However, I know two webmasters who have had federal agents (one had the FBI, the other had the Secret Service) come calling due to the actions of their users - in particular, death threats and harassment.

And on a related item, there are various laws that govern email ... for example, if you decide to shut down the free email someday, you may be required to provide a forwarding service for period of time after the closure - from what I recall, California was considering such a law ... don't know if it passed or not ... sure John or someone with similar background would know :)

Anyways, I personally would avoid offering free email. A better approach is to run an opt-in only email list (be sure to require verification on the emails so it's not abused) and send out announcements, reminders, etc every so often - most folks who would sign up for a free email will sign up for the annoucement list instead if that's the only choice available.

With an opt-in annoucement email list, you still keep in touch with your visitors without all the overhead and hassles of offering free email.

Ron
 

seeker

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thank you Ron, that was very informative.
It's just that I have a few domains that are very targetted to certain niche audience that would make great emails. For example europe.com (I dont own that domain) used to be a free email service. Maybe it still is?
so many Europeans liked having their adddress as myname@europe.com
Sure, its no gmail or yahoo in service and storage, but it sounds good, and especially when dealing with an established audience, it helps keep them, and brings new ones as well, creating traffic and eventually $ from PPC. There are also other benefits.
But I am considering wether the cons are more than the pros.
 
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