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Q: E-mail Law ( Answered,   0 Comments )
Subject: E-mail Law
Category: Computers > Security
Asked by: tupelo-ga
List Price: $15.00
Posted: 21 Jan 2003 11:12 PST
Expires: 20 Feb 2003 11:12 PST
Question ID: 146591
Sirs, A virus sent from a large organisation crept past 2 lots of
anti-virus software and ruined 10 years' work by chewing up all the
applications and my databse. I maintain that any large
Corporation/Company should have anti-virus software running at all
times to protect outgoing e-mails. Whose responsibility is this ? My
A-V software was self-updating, the sender's was NOT. Do I have a
legal claim ? If so, for what ?
Subject: Re: E-mail Law
Answered By: tisme-ga on 21 Jan 2003 12:21 PST
Hello tupelo,

First, if the virus was able to creep past your anti-virus protection,
there is a good chance it could have creeped past theirs as well. Do
we know for certain that they have no anti-virus protection?

Second, you should always have backups, backups and more backups of
your work, especially if it is important to you. I realize that it is
too late for this bit of advice, but I learned my lesson after losing
large amounts of work as well.

I have done some research for you as requested, and here is what I
came up with. Since I do not know where you are in the world, I could
not do research on a specific area, but you should contact a lawyer
anyway if you want more detailed and accurate information.

Personally, I see the problem as being a failure of your security...
but it is almost impossible to sue an anti-virus firm such as Norton
and McAfee:

"The computer industry has continued insisting that users are
completely responsible for the buggy software they purchase by
promoting click-wrap contracts and UCITA, a law which absolves the
industry of liability."
Source: Save the Net, Sue a Software Maker

This page talks a bit about "Computer Viruses and Insurance Law"
Do you have insurance? Perhaps you are covered for this loss.

This website has a lot more information about insurance:
"Internet/Technology Insurance"

If you read the Case Documents at the bottom (of the above page), you
will see that several individuals have been able to succesfully win
for coverage after they lost the use of their computers.

On the same page at the very top, I found this interesting excerpt:

"From a liability perspective, companies doing business on the
Internet face the more traditional claims of libel, slander, copyright
and trademark infringement, as well as newer claims specifically
associated with Internet business, such as claims alleging computer
virus transmission, unauthorized access or use and loss of services."

Note that it says "claims alleging computer virus transmission". This
suggests that there are several people who are currently testing this
in courts and that there could be something behind it.

I found a page from the United Kingdom that talks about this issue:
"If a company sends out documents infected with viruses they could be
sued for damages by both companies and individuals who are then
infected by the transmission. This applies even if the company was
unaware of the transmission."
"The Seller's Guide to Internet Security Solutions"
Source (PDF Version):

I found a similar claim here: "Virus transmission - businesses can be
liable if an employee sends a computer virus"
Source: SafeOnline
Source: (PDF Version)
Source: (HTML Version)

It was able to find several security firms claiming that companies
could be sued for damages if they contributed to virus transmission,
but finding actual cases which had tested this proved to be much

Here is yet another Security/Law firm that specializes in
"cyberliability" which they define as "generic term coined in the late
1990s for various types of legal liability arising from business use
of the Internet and e-mail including cyberlibel (q.v.), copyright
infringement, breach of confidence, negligent virus transmission,
inadvertent contracts, computer hacking, etc."

I found this article that discusses the legal implications of virus
"There have, so far, not been any legal cases to test this, but there
are clear reasons to believe that a claim could succeed."
The Law and Computer Viruses

Here is another good article that I recommend you read: It is
rather lengthy, but I am sure that you will find it useful.

I was not able to locate any individuals or companies that have
successfully sued a third party for virus transmission. It certainly
appears though, that in theory at least, a court would award losses
under certain conditions. If the losses resulting from this virus are
staggering enough to seriously affect your life/business, I recommend
that you talk to a good lawyer who knows the law in your geographical
area, and see if you want to go ahead with this.

Remember though that the corporation that sent you the virus might
have received it from another corporation etc. If it was started
internally, you would have a better chance. You would probably also
have a better chance of winning if you could prove that they did not
have any security measures in place etc.

I hope that you will find this information useful. I wish you the best
as you look at your options regarding this situation. I trust that you
will be able to get through this eventually and move on. Perhaps you
can still salvage your applications/databases by talking to a data
recovery firm?

I clearly understand how losing all of a persons data can have an
impact on his/her life. All the best,


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