Legal Question in Technology Law in Florida

Is accessing and Utilizing public files on a webserver illegal?

This question is similar to the one posted previously on 2/21/2002. Basically, IE has the ability to view the source of a web page. This allows you to view the HTML coding of the page and who or where it stores itís information. If a form stores itís entered information into a file and this file is only accessible by entering the exact location of the file into your browserís address bar (example: www.mywebpage.com/results.txt), then you are able to view the contents of the file.

I know that at this point no laws have been broken. My question is, if you extract the information within that file (e-mail addresses) and send a message to all of the addresses within the file?


Asked on 3/08/02, 12:47 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

Tiffany Lanier Tiffany J. Lanier, P.A.

Re: Is accessing and Utilizing public files on a webserver illegal?

That depends on what you plan to do with the email addresses you obtained. You can not send unsolicited email to someone unless, 1) you have their permission, 2) they emailed you first, or 3) if you have some type of ongoing business relationship with the person you are emailing.

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Answered on 3/08/02, 3:40 pm
Martin Jenkins Martin Jenkins PLLC

Re: Is accessing and Utilizing public files on a webserver illegal?

It may be illegal. If you have reason to suspect that the owner of the information (both the sender and the recipient) expects it to remain private, then you may be invading privacy. Even if one could slip through a loophole about technical legality, using the information for commercial purposes strikes me as incredibly rude.

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Answered on 3/08/02, 7:56 pm


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