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InfoTech 8-2-99 PC World 7-7-99 InfoTech 8-299 The Register 7-7-99
The Register 4-29-99 The Register 4-23-99 Disgruntled Employee Contra Cost Bar Association
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Anchorage Daily 4-16-99 NY Times 12-11-98 NewsBytes 12-9-98 ZD Net 4-28-99

 
August 2, 1999

InfoTech Bytes


Ken Hamidi arrived at the Santa Clara headquarters of his former employer, chipmaker Intel, atop a horse and flanked by the American flag. Welcomed by a crowd of newspaper, trade, business, radio and television reporters, Mr Hamidi delivered his latest anti-Intel message on floppy disks to an Intel representative.

Last month, a California Superior Court judge slammed a ban on Mr Hamidi preventing him from using the e-mail system to deliver his derogatory messages to thousands of Intel workers.

As insignificant as the personal feud between Mr Hamidi and Intel may seem, legal experts agree the case may ultimately determine how far companies and other organisations can go in putting up barriers to unwanted e-mail. Mr Hamidi has vowed he will take his case all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary.

Mr Hamidi believes he has the right under the First Amendment (Freedom of Speech) of the Constitution to send e-mail messages to anyone he pleases, and Intel has no right to put up legal and technological barriers to prevent him from doing so.

He embarked on an e-mail campaign criticising Intel after he was fired. Until he was barred from doing do so, Mr Hamidi would routinely broadcast his messages to thousands of Intel workers.

Mr Hamidi has even established an organisation called Former and Current Employees of Intel ("FACE Intel") that publicises and supports grievances against the chipmaker. The FACE Intel Web site at

www.faceintel.com

heavily criticises the chip firm.

Mr Hamidi says: "If Intel can do this to me, they can do it to any of us. Intel's position is a serious threat to freedom of speech in cyberspace."

© Copyright, Wellington Newspapers Limited 1999, All rights reserved.


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Source:  PC World

Is Spam Back in the Saddle?

Former Intel engineer challenges last month's anti-spam ruling.

by Reuters
July 7, 1999, 11:29 a.m. PT

Barred by a California court last month from sending e-mail to employees at his former employer, an ex-Intel engineer showed up at Intel's headquarters on horseback on Tuesday to deliver his latest communiqué.

Ken Hamidi, who worked for Intel for several years as a quality engineer before being fired, rode up to Intel's Robert Noyce Building on horseback in Western attire and handed a floppy disk to an Intel representative.

"He indicated that he intended to appeal," said Intel spokesperson Chuck Mulloy. "There is nothing new in his position." The legal battle, however, may determine how far the First Amendment's guarantee of free speech extends into cyberspace.

Hamidi believes it is his right to send Intel workers unsolicited e-mails criticizing the world's largest semiconductor maker. Hamidi established an organization called Former and Current Employees of Intel, also known as FACE Intel, that supports grievances against the company. The FACE Intel Web site lambastes the chip giant on many fronts.

"This event is intended to illustrate the absurdity of Intel's actions in obtaining a court to bar me from sending e-mail over the Internet," Hamidi said in a statement. "If Intel can do this to me, they can do it to any of us. Intel's position is a serious threat to freedom of speech in cyberspace."

A California Superior Court judge ruled last month that he was trespassing on private property with his mass e-mails.

Mulloy said he was not sure what Intel would do with Hamidi's floppy disk message.

"The e-mails notwithstanding, he has his own Web site, he talks to the press, and he has done leaflet mailings to universities where we recruit," Mulloy said. "He has been very prolific in exercising his freedom of speech." While on a business trip for Intel in 1990, Hamidi was in an auto accident that resulted in a back injury. After two years of working with the injury, he left on a medical leave of absence and was fired three years later after getting involved in a protracted workers' compensation lawsuit.

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Source:  InfoTech.com

August 2, 1999

InfoTech Bytes

Ken Hamidi arrived at the Santa Clara headquarters of his former employer, chipmaker Intel, atop a horse and flanked by the American flag. Welcomed by a crowd of newspaper, trade, business, radio and television reporters, Mr Hamidi delivered his latest anti-Intel message on floppy disks to an Intel representative.

Last month, a California Superior Court judge slammed a ban on Mr Hamidi preventing him from using the e-mail system to deliver his derogatory messages to thousands of Intel workers.

As insignificant as the personal feud between Mr Hamidi and Intel may seem, legal experts agree the case may ultimately determine how far companies and other organisations can go in putting up barriers to unwanted e-mail. Mr Hamidi has vowed he will take his case all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary.

Mr Hamidi believes he has the right under the First Amendment (Freedom of Speech) of the Constitution to send e-mail messages to anyone he pleases, and Intel has no right to put up legal and technological barriers to prevent him from doing so.

He embarked on an e-mail campaign criticising Intel after he was fired. Until he was barred from doing do so, Mr Hamidi would routinely broadcast his messages to thousands of Intel workers.

Mr Hamidi has even established an organisation called Former and Current Employees of Intel ("FACE Intel") that publicises and supports grievances against the chipmaker. The FACE Intel Web site at

www.faceintel.com

heavily criticises the chip firm.

Mr Hamidi says: "If Intel can do this to me, they can do it to any of us. Intel's position is a serious threat to freedom of speech in cyberspace."

© Copyright, Wellington Newspapers Limited 1999, All rights reserved.

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Source:  The Regiser

Posted 07/07/99 9:34am by Mike Magee

Intel cowboy talks to Intel cowboy

Ken Hamidi, the scourge of Intel's email system and the organiser of Face Intel , took matters a step or four further on Monday when he rode a horse up to Chipzilla Central in Satan Clara to deliver mail by pony express.

Hamidi, who has campaigned against Intel over its employment practices for years, lost a case against the chip giant in spring, but is taking his case to the supreme court.

Although there is a cartoon of Hamidi riding up to the Intel OK Corrall on his web site, we haven't seen a pic of him astride his bucking bronco yet.

And although we know that a picture exists within Intel of Craig Barrett on his horse, we haven't been able to get our mitts on that one yet.

Barrett's hobby is selling designer log cabins. Yeehah. ®

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Source:  The Register

Posted 29/04/99 12:48am by a staffer

Hamidi loses to Intel

Local US newspaper The Sacramento Bee reported today that Ken Hamidi has lost his fight against Intel.

Although Hamidi, as reported here earlier, had forced Intel to back down on sueing him for money, or for being a nuisance, a judge in Sacramento said today that he was not allowed to bombard Intel employees with email.

Intel said that Hamidi was virtually stalking the halls of Santa Clara and trespassing on its property by sending many of its employees unsolicited emails.

Sacramento judge John Lewis upheld Intel's claim that Hamidi should not do so in the future.

Lewis said in his judgment that Hamidi had trespassed on Intel territory.

The case is likely to be pursued in higher courts and could become a test case. ®


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Source: The Register

Posted 23/04/99 11:11am by Mike Magee

Intel retreats on Hamidi case

Kourosh Hamidi, who runs employee ginger group Face Intel, has forced the biggest chip company in the world to drop two charges it made against him.

Intel's lawyers, Morrison & Foster, moved earlier this week to strike two of their claims against Hamidi for financial damages and for causing a nuisance.

Now, Intel is pinning hopes of winning the case on the grounds of "email trespass", a concept that has not really had an airing in the cosmos so far.

Intel claims that the very act of sending emails to its employees, even given that it has now conceded that it is not a nuisance, is equivalent to Hamidi stalking the spacious halls of its offices in Satan Clara.

A decision is likely very soon. ®

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Source:  DISGRUNTLED

 

DISGRUNTLED Names Former Intel Engineer Ken Hamidi
The 1997 Disgruntled Employee Of The Year

BERKELEY, DEC. 30 -- DISGRUNTLED magazine has named Ken Hamidi, a former Intel engineer who has used the Internet to shed light on alleged discriminatory practices at the chip-making giant, the 1997 DISGRUNTLED Employee of the Year.

DISGRUNTLED, "The Business Magazine For People Who Work For A Living"  bestows the annual honor on the person who best embodies or inspires disgruntled employees everywhere.

"Time magazine may hold out Andy Grove as their man of the year, but Hamidi is our guy," said Daniel S. Levine, editor of DISGRUNTLED. "Hamidi has shown the world a hidden and ugly side of Silicon Valley's great success story and helped his former co-workers reach out to each other to try to change it."

Earlier this year Hamidi with other Intel alumni launched the "FACE Intel" or "Former and Current Employees of Intel" webpage. The webpage spells out what it charges are discriminatory practices and oppressive human resource policies at the company. Intel has repeatedly denied the validity of the allegations made on the webpage.

In grabbing the honor, Hamidi beat out other finalists including former B-52 pilot Kelly Flinn and three-time NBA all-star Latrell Sprewell.

"Hamidi shows how the Internet can be a powerful means for employees to work together to take on their employer and improve their working conditions," said Levine. "He also demonstrates that with a little thought, disgruntled employees can channel their frustrations in more productive and creative ways than just choking their boss."

Hamidi joins past recipients ADM whistleblower Mark Whitacre and political consultant Dick Morris. He will be sent an official DISGRUNTLED T-shirt and a certificate suitable for framing.

DISGRUNTLED can be found exclusively on the World Wide Web of the Internet. The magazine mixes news, features, satire and commentary all focused on the darker side of the world of work.

DISGRUNTLED, "The Business Magazine For People Who Work For A Living" is a registered trademark of Counterpoint Press, Inc. The "Disgruntled Employee of the Year" is a copyright of Counterpoint Press, Inc.

- ### -


posted 12/30/97

Copyright 1997 Counterpoint Press, Inc.

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Source:  Contra County Bar Association

Modern Day Pickets Gripe Through the Internet
Intel's Counter-Attack on Disgruntled Employee Spammer Tests Convergence of Technology and Speech

by Richard Vasquez

To Intel, former company engineer Ken Hamidi is no less a pariah than a vandal, a hacker who tied up the company e-mail system with 30,000 hate messages to its troops. That is the portrait Morrison & Forester employment litigators led by partner Linda Shostak, painted to a Sacramento County Superior Court law and motion judge last month in court papers filed on behalf of the semiconductor maker.

But to Mr. Hamidi, who claims his employer's case against him is about First Amendment rights, he is a freedom fighter against a tyrannical postmodern industrialist, who cannot see the forest (the new medium known as the Internet) through the trees (the hardware the company sells). Regardless of whom you are rooting for, Intel v. Hamidi appears to be setting up as the test case to decide "whether sending e-mails to internet addresses in and of itself" can be deemed tortious, exposing the sender to damages.

The collateral damage in the feud is itself noteworthy. Hamidi is the kind of disgruntled employee who a decade ago might have posted vigil with a picket sign in front of Intel headquarters. This is the millennium, however. Instead of a picket sign, he wields a worldwide website, located at www.faceintel.com ("FACE Intel" stands for Former And Current Employees of Intel) which "pickets" on the Web 24/7. Instead of leaflets, he sent e-mail to company employees describing his view of Intel despotism. One of the e-mails he admits made it to 29,000 employees. These facts and others can be found posted on Hamidi's website, which includes court pleadings, the latest of which (April 9, 1999) is his affidavit in opposition to Intel's motion for summary judgment on its claim for trespass to chattels (its network). Intel seeks a permanent injunction barring him from e-mailing the company's employees.

In December, Intel succeeded in obtaining a preliminary injunction against further e-mails sent to the internet addresses of company employees. The company has now moved for summary judgment, which was scheduled to be argued April 19. The moving and opposing papers show the battle lines being drawn between employers, like Intel, who have to pay to administer networks and workforces in the age of the new media, against the first amendment guardians of the phenomenon which is e-mail over the internet.

Since recent estimates show people use e-mail at a frequency of 1,000 to every letter sent through the U.S. (snail) mail, the case has importance to every workplace and every worker.1 The so-called junk fax law _ Title 47, Chapter 5, Subchapter II of the United States Code _ prohibits sending unsolicited faxes and making uninvited phone calls using a prerecorded voice. Although some antispam activists have tried to apply Title 47 to e-mail, the congressional intent behind the law clearly does not include computers, and the legislation has never been used successfully against spammers.

There is no doubt that Hamidi has dug in for a grudge against his former employer. The engineer worked at Intel for 15 years. The FACE Intel Website details the employment struggle he waged before being terminated. It includes copies of the pleadings and decision in his successful workers' compensation suit against the company, in which his recently filed affidavit claims Intel admitted under oath that it violated its company policy when it fired him. But that's only the banner ad. Hyperlink into the site and you find detailed listings of 15 other lawsuits by Intel employees against the company, including letters from the litigants themselves, links to bad press about Intel, and rambling diatribes by Hamidi about Intel's ethics in diverse settings. The site contains a chronology of Intel's action against Hamidi, including copies of pleadings and letters between him and the Morrison law firm.

There is even a nasty unauthorized "biography" (by Hamidi) about Ms. Shostak, which contains personal attacks on her purported private life.

On this backdrop, Morrison and Intel are now stuck dealing with Hamidi's lawyer's principal contention on the motion for summary judgment, that it wants to gag Hamidi, not save its network. Intel's motion seeks a victory without a trial on the "trespass to chattel" claim upon which Intel seeks an injunction and damages. Hamidi's chief argument against the motion is that Intel is irritated with the content of Hamidi's rants to Intel employees, rather than the asserted Trojan Horse rationale that his unsolicited e-mails tied up the chip making giant's network.

Amid the name-calling the legal issue is concise: Can a company halt unsolicited e-mails to its employees when it allows the employees to use its network to access the internet for personal correspondence in its employees' policy manual?

Intel cites Thrifty-Tel, Inc. v. Bezenek (1996) 46 Cal.App.4th 1559, a case in which the court upheld a cause of action of trespass to chattels based upon the defendant's thousands of unsolicited computer generated phone calls to the plaintiff. The court there found that the defendant had engaged in an effort to obtain a code sequence to use to make free phone calls, essentially a scheme to defraud the plaintiff's telephone company. The Thrifty-Tel judge found the defendant's conduct "overloaded" the plaintiff's system.

Declarations in the Intel case show that Hamidi's messages to 29,000 employees contained an invitation from Hamidi to advise him (by reply) that no further messages were wanted, in which case he would agree to delete a recipient from the list. Only 450 told him to stop. E-mail between Intel's managers obtained in discovery also shows that Intel's systems were not overloaded. Instead, Morrison argues that the company's managers had to spend time trying to halt the messages and respond to employees who asked management about Hamidi's claims. Hamidi has filed evidence of admissions that Hamidi did not violate Intel's e-mail usage policy, or result in a security breach of its system. Hamidi's declaration claims that Intel could have blocked Hamidi's message (for software which can filter out unwanted e-mail see http://members.tripod.com/~johnmlee/protection.html) in less than two hours. It notes that, as with all incoming e-mail, the recipients had the ability to delete the e-mail without even reading it, with one mouse click.

Hamidi also notes in his papers that Intel has blocked access to the FACEIntel website from the company system. He is not accused of "hacking" into the company's intranet (internal system), but only of "utilizing addresses on the company's proprietary computers systems" by e-mail which "are disruptive, and adversely affect employee productivity…to avoid detection and the various measures that can block or remove Hamidi's e-mails [he] sent in the dead of night and from different computers to avoid blocking by Intel."

Intel claims this caused damage, citing the trespass to chattel tort under Restatement of Torts § 217. Hamidi's lawyers say the "damage" is nominal and occurs purely because Intel "chooses" to seek to halt the content of Hamidi's message. He argues implied consent based upon the 28,550 employees who didn't object.

Intel is seeking to build on the success of commercial ISPs (Internet Service Providers) like CompuServe and America Online, which have successfully obtained injunctions against unsolicited business junk e-mail to their subscribers. See America Online v. IMS (1998) LEXIS 175437 (E.D. VA 10/29/98) [granting summary judgment on trespass to chattels claim against commercial spammer] and CompuServe, Inc. v. Cyber Promotions, Inc. 962 F. Supp. 1015 (S.D. Ohio 1997) [enjoining bulk e-mailer from sending unsolicited messages to CompuServe customers who had to pay the ISP a per-minute charge to wade through and delete the unwanted commercial e-mail]. Federal and state laws provide all recipients some measure of protection against commercial junk e-mail or SPAM. But Hamidi is not selling widgets, he's selling the idea that Intel is a "bad boss," and its workers should rise up against it.

Hamidi's attorney points out that none of the ISP cases held that an injunction would lie to prevent unsolicited e-mail over the internet. The principal each ISP case has turned on is whether the bulk mailing was "an unreasonable interference with the use of personal property amounting to actual damage."

The CompuServe judge emphasized the high threshold of unreasonable interference, which must be present, before the courts should step in:

"…this court also notes that the implementation of technological means of self-help, to the extent that reasonable measures are effective, is particularly appropriate in this type of situation and should be exhausted before legal action is proper." Id. at p.1023.

Hamidi also asserts that even if there is a technical case of trespass to chattels, that the first amendment affirmative defense dictates that Intel lose its case. Citing Oregon state law, (Lloyd v. Whiffen, 750 P.2d 1157, 1159-60) he argues that issuance of an injunction against e-mailing is state action and a prior restraint, impermissible under N.Y. Times v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964).

For its part, Intel argues that shopping centers as public forum cases, such as Robins v. Pruneyard (1979) 23 Cal.3d 899, are inapplicable, since Intel didn't invite persons from the public into its e-mail system. Intel appears to have a factual problem with the argument however, since company policy manuals produced in discovery allow reasonable personal use of the network to employees. The manual even encourages employees to participate in chat groups and discussion forums over the internet from the system, even on personal topics, provided the employees disclaim that their speech represents company policy. Analogizing such forums to low tech venues of the past, it sounds like there is a case to be made that Intel just doesn't want to let its employees listen to unpopular opinions. Interestingly, neither side has cited the farm worker cases, which held that counselors could pass out leaflets on company property advising migrant workers of their rights even though the employer landowners objected.2

1 Federal statutes do not help Intel.

2 See Lloyd Corp. v. Tanner, 407 U.S. 551, 92 S. Ct. 2219, 33 L. Ed. 2d 131 (1972) [the Supreme Court, in discussing the two basic requirements _ (1) functional equivalence to a municipal business district and (2) openness to the public, states "the picketing was `directly related in its purpose to the use to which the shopping center property was being put . . ., and where the store was located in the center of a large private enclave with the consequence that no other reasonable opportunities for the pickets to convey their message to their intended audience were available." 407 U.S. at 563.

Richard C. Vasquez, Esq. is a business and employment litigator in the law firm of Morgan Miller & Blair where he is chair of his firm's Business and Technology Practice. He is president ex officio of the CCCBA Litigation Section and chair of the CCCBA Technology Committee. He can be reached at rvasquez@mmblaw.com or 925/937-3600.

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Source:  News Bytes

December 9, 1998

 

 
NEWSBYTES® Top Story
 
Intel Ends Former Employee's Spam Campaign

09 Dec 1998, 4:36 PM CST
By Matt Hines, Newsbytes.
SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA, U.S.A.,

Intel Corp. [NASDAQ:INTC] officials confirmed today that the firm has been granted a preliminary injunction against a former employee who apparently has been spamming the company with thousands of e-mail messages. The Court of Sacramento County told Ken Hamidi that he could no longer send unsolicited e-mail to Intel employees.

Hamidi was formerly employed at an Intel plant, where he was injured and put on worker's compensation payment. Last November, Hamidi allegedly began sending large numbers of e-mail messages to employees throughout the company.

The e-mails claim Hamidi is the victim of age, medical disability, and racial discrimination at the hands of Intel. Hamidi has even founded an organization to promote his claims, Former and Current Employees of Intel (FACE-Intel).

While Hamidi is currently representing himself, The Wall Street Journal has reported that the American Civil Liberties Union may take up his case.

Reported By Newsbytes News Network, 

16:36 CST
Reposted 16:36 CST

(19981209/Press contact: Tracy Koon, 408-763-3484 /WIRES PC, LEGAL, ONLINE/INTEL/PHOTO/)

 

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Source:  Anchorage Daily News

Anchorage Daily News                         April 16, 1999

Business News

Former Intel worker wins preliminary court battle over Intel-bashing e-mail

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (April 16, 1999 10:47 p.m. EDT http://www.nandotimes.com) - In a case with implications for free speech on the Internet, a judge has sided with a Citrus Heights man who is battling Intel Corp. over the right to send Intel-bashing e-mail to thousands of employees at the microchip company.

Friday's preliminary ruling by Superior Court Judge John Lewis allows Ken Hamidi to file a motion or go to trial to overturn a ban on his e-mail issued last December.

Prior to the ban, Hamidi had been sending up to 30,000 e-mails a day to Intel workers alleging labor violations and other abuses by the company.

"I'm glad today," said Hamidi, a former Intel employee. "This was a good decision and we go forward from here. ... I want to send e-mails as soon as possible."

An Intel spokeswoman said company lawyers will make oral arguments Monday to try to persuade Lewis to change his mind. Lewis will then issue a permanent ruling.

Hamidi's case - which appears to mark the first time a judge has barred an e-mailer from spreading personal opinions - could help dictate the level of freedom that internet users have in directing electronic mail to specific groups of people, according to experts following the case.

"Intel Corp. v. Hamidi is an important case ... that could have a long-term impact on the relationship between speech and property rights in cyberspace," said Charles Nesson, a Harvard law professor and expert on internet law.

Intel said in court papers that Hamidi's electronic mail amounted to trespassing on their computer system and was "uninvited, disruptive and adversely affect(s) employee productivity."

The company said Hamidi's e-mail campaign stretched from December 1996 until September 1998.

Hamidi was an engineer at Intel's Folsom campus. In 1996 he was involved in an auto accident and left the company on disability. He said he was fired over a dispute concerning disability claims.

After leaving Intel, Hamidi set up a World Wide Web site, called FACE Intel, that details Intel's alleged mistreatment of its employees.

Hamidi said Intel went to court to stop his e-mails because the company disapproves of criticism. He maintains that his actions are protected by the U.S. Constitution.

"I have never attempted to access Intel's intranet," Hamidi said, referring to the firm's internal system linking Intel employees' computers to each other.

"Intel's attempt to obtain a permanent injunction against me to stop sending electronic mail is the equivalent of asking the government to stop me from sending paper mail through the Postal Service," Hamidi said.

Intel said the company believes in freedom of speech. But the company said it is trying to stop mass e-mailings that could upset workers and disrupt the workday.

(Eric Young writes for the Sacramento Bee in California.)

By ERIC YOUNG

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Source:  New York Times
December 11, 1998

New York Times
 

By PAMELA MENDELS

A Case of Spam and Free Speech at Intel

Kenneth Hamidi, a former Intel Corp. employee who is unhappy with the company, has succeeded several times since late 1996 in getting his message across to current employees of the giant chipmaker, with the help of the company's own e-mail system.

A California State judge may have put an end to that, however. In late November, the judge, heeding arguments from Intel, issued a preliminary injunction barring Hamidi and the group he founded, Former and Current Employees of Intel, from sending bulk e-mail to any addresses on the company's internal network.

For some lawyers, the matter is just another open-and-shut case involving unsolicited bulk e-mail, known as "spam." They see it as just the most recent example of a court's proper use of its authority to stop a would-be intruder from delivering an unwanted message through virtual trespass.

But for others, the case, Intel Corporation v. Kourosh Kenneth Hamidi, et.al., is a different and troubling one. They say what was quashed by the court's injunction was not the cyberspace equivalent of pesky junk mail, but non-commercial speech deserving of the most deferential First Amendment treatment.

A hearing on the matter, which is before Judge John R. Lewis of California State Superior Court in Sacramento County, is scheduled for Jan. 11.

Hamidi is a one-time Intel hardware engineer who was dismissed in 1995 for reasons that are not entirely clear. The company says the firing was not performance related, but that Hamidi was dismissed after a long leave. Hamidi says he was dismissed because of his protest of various company policies.

Hamidi accuses the company of a variety of abusive employment practices, among them age and disability discrimination, accusations the company denies. He is also the spokesman for FACE Intel, which he says has about 100 members, both former and current Intel employees. The group maintains a Web site featuring dozens of critical essays about the Santa Clara-based company.

Beginning in December 1996, according to court papers, Hamidi and the group began sending e-mail messages to large numbers of Intel employees at work. The messages ranged from accusations that company layoffs would be far larger than the company had admitted to suggestions that FACE Intel could help employees find better jobs, but all had an anti-Intel theme.

Hamidi said he launched his e-mail campaign "to inform and educate Intel employees and support them."

The company asked Hamidi and the group to stop the mailings. It also used technological blockers to try to prevent the messages from reaching their destinations, but with limited success. After 30,000 or so Intel employees received a September mailing, the company filed suit against Hamidi and FACE Intel, essentially charging them with trespassing on the company's computer system.

Coeta J. Chambers, a company lawyer, insists that the matter is a classic spam case, and that what distressed the company was not the content of Hamidi's missives, but the inconvenience and disruption they caused. Employees annoyed about the unwanted mail would complain, for example, and computer personnel spent hours trying to block the messages.

"If each of the 29,000 employees targeted by these e-mailings only spent two minutes evaluating, questioning and resolving these highly disruptive and critical attacks on Intel, evident from the text of the messages, Intel would lose almost 1,000 person-hours of productive labor for each e-mail," one Intel court document said.

Furthermore, Chambers said, Hamidi has other outlets for expressing his views, including the Web site and demonstrations like those that FACE Intel has conducted outside Intel offices.

She said the mailings, sent to a company that does not make its employee e-mail addresses public, are analogous to an outsider stepping onto company property and demanding that a message he bears be delivered to each member of the work force. "The issue is his trespassing, sending thousands of unwanted, unsolicited messages to people who don't want to have them," she said.

Other lawyers agree, saying a company has a right to keep its property from being commandeered. "This is an outsider trying to use corporate facilities to put forth his own message," said Jay W. Waks, a New York City employment lawyer who works on behalf of corporations.

But Yochai Benkler, a professor at New York University's law school and a specialist in communications law, is disturbed that in this case, a virtual property right trumped the First Amendment.

To date, commercial messages like advertising have typically been the issue in lawsuits over spam. Perhaps the best known of these was a suit that Compuserve successfully brought against Cyber Promotions, a bulk e-mail promotions company. And courts have been sympathetic to companies that want to put a stop to the disruption that junk e-mail causes.

But Benkler said the important difference in the Intel case is that the controversial messages were not about commerce, they were about ideas.

Therefore, he said, the court should have given more protection to Hamidi. Moreover, Benkler said, the precedent could undermine a notion that the United States Supreme Court emphasized in its landmark Communications Decency Act case. The court noted that the Internet can be a powerful democratizing force, one that gives those who may not be able to afford a printing press or a broadcast license the ability to be heard.

By agreeing to connect to the Internet, Benkler argued, Intel joined a sort of public network and should not, therefore, be allowed by a court to silence speakers on it. "With Hamidi, you have here a pamphleteer," Benkler said. "Maybe he's even offensive to some people. But he is a person with a political agenda of reaching a large constituency, the employees of Intel. This is what we would hope for with the Internet. Let them decide if he's a weirdo or someone to listen to."

For his part, Hamidi, who has not hired a lawyer and is representing himself in the case, says he wants to continue the fight. "Today it's Ken Hamidi's speech," he said in a telephone interview. "But it's going to affect the free speech of everyone."

He may get some assistance in his battle. Lawyers from both the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an electronic rights organization, are researching the case and considering whether to get involved.

Carl S. Kaplan will return on Dec. 18.


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Source:  New York Times
April 28, 1999

New York Times

Intel E-Mail Ruling Raises Free Speech Questions

By PAMELA MENDELS
n a closely watched case pitting notions of free speech against a corporation's right to control its property, a California state judge has issued a ruling that will essentially order a former employee of the Intel Corp. to stop sending bulk e-mail messages to company employees at work.

Issuing a summary judgment in favor of Intel, the judge rejected arguments that the free speech rights of the former employee, Kenneth Hamidi, would be violated if he were barred from sending his messages.

The court considered the possibility that Intel's e-mail system, although private property, might be akin to large shopping centers, which under California law can function as a town meeting center where free speech is protected. But Judge John R. Lewis of California State Superior Court in Sacramento County said these free speech rights would fail to apply in a case like Intel's, where among other things, the property owner does not provide occasion for the public to assemble.

"The mere connection of Intel's e-mail system with the Internet does not covert it into a public forum," Lewis wrote in a ruling issued Tuesday. "Hamidi argues that by allowing some reasonable Internet access for some employee personal use, Intel has converted its e-mail system into a public forum. But under both federal and state constitutional law, limited access for specific purposes does not convert private property to a public forum."

Hamidi, 52, said Wednesday that he would appeal the decision. "It's depriving me of delivering public speech," he said, comparing his e-mail messages to holding "a megaphone and standing on a tree stump and giving a speech to the public."

Hamidi was dismissed in 1995 from Intel, where he had worked as a hardware engineer. He has accused the Santa Clara-based chip company of abusive employment practices, such as age discrimination, which the company denies. Hamidi is also the founder of Former and Current Employees of Intel, or FACE Intel, a group highly critical of the company.

In 1996, Hamidi and the group began sending e-mail messages critical of Intel to large numbers of the company's employees at work. Hamidi has said he launched the campaign "to inform and educate" Intel employees, and continued sending the messages despite company requests that he stop.

After a September, 1998 mailing, in which about 30,000 employees received messages, Intel filed suit against Hamidi and the group, charging them with a kind of virtual trespass on the company's computer system. The company argued that what was driving the action was the disruption the e-mail caused, not the content of the message, saying that employees complained about the e-mails, the company suffered lost productivity and computer personnel spent hours trying to block the messages.

In November, Judge Lewis issued a preliminary injunction to stop the messages. In his decision this week, he essentially granted Intel's bid for a permanent injunction, and invoked a case in which bulk e-mail, or spam, was restricted on the idea that the unwanted messages constituted a kind of virtual trespass. Intel is now expected to draw up an order for the judge to review and sign.

A spokeswoman for Intel reacted to Tuesday's decision with satisfaction. "We are pleased with the judge's ruling," said Tracy Koon, director of corporate affairs for Intel. "Our contention from the beginning has been that FACE Intel's repeated spamming of our employees constitutes illegal trespass. That belief was upheld by the judge's ruling."

The case has proved disturbing to some free speech advocates. They say that Hamidi's messages were not standard spam, the term used to refer to unsolicited commercial e-mail, because they did not involve commerce. Instead, they say the messages represent the legitimate expression of ideas and therefore deserve broad First Amendment protection.

Eugene Volokh, a professor at the University of California at Los Angeles law school who specializes in cyberspace and free speech issues, said he agreed with the judge's decision, because he believes that free speech rights "do not include your right to speak using my property."

But Ann Brick, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, said she found the decision disturbing. "It's troubling to us that there's an injunction that essentially silences a speaker," she said. "At bottom, Intel is using the power of the government to silence a critic and that's very troubling."


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Source:  New York Times
May 28, 1999

New York Times

  By CARL S. KAPLAN 

In Intel E-Mail Case, Property Rights vs. Free Speech

or the past eight months, Ken Hamidi, a former employee of Intel Corp., has carried out a lonely and poorly financed legal crusade in California State Court. He is trying to uphold what he believes is his right to send Intel workers unsolicited mass e-mail criticizing the giant semiconductor company.

By contrast, Intel has long maintained that the gadfly's e-mail represents an illegal and harmful trespass on its private computer property -- or, in the ancient legal lingo, "trespass to chattels."

So is the Hamidi dispute chiefly about free speech or private property rights in cyberspace? The answer could well determine the outcome of the case, which has received a lot of attention from watchers of cyberspace law.

An article in one of the nation's most prestigious legal publications weighs in on the side of Hamidi's free speech argument. In the May issue of the Harvard Law Review, William M. McSwain, a Harvard law student and an editor of the review, wrote that Hamidi's e-mail messages to Intel employees are speech of "public concern" -- a category of speech that lies at the heart of the First Amendment.

Courts should not seek to block Hamidi or others like him from sending e-mail unless they first balance the competing rights of the speaker against those of the property owner and find that the balance tips in favor of the latter, McSwain argued.

"Should the courts continue to prove receptive to the theory of electronic trespass, this trend of censoring unwanted speech will no doubt accelerate in the future, because almost every conceivable 'trespass' in cyberspace carries a message," said McSwain in his article, "The Long Arm of Cyber-Reach," which discussed the Hamidi case in detail.

Intel sued Hamidi last October and sought a court order to stop him from sending messages to Intel employees at work. According to legal papers, Hamidi sent e-mail messages to more than 30,000 Intel employees in six bursts between 1996 and 1998, detailing what he considered to be abusive and discriminatory employment practices at the company. Hamidi refused Intel's request to stop sending the messages, and he managed to circumvent the company's efforts to block them.

Last month, Judge John R. Lewis of the Superior Court of California, County of Sacramento, granted Intel summary judgment in the case, finding that Hamidi's messages trespassed on Intel's proprietary computer system and caused harm. Lawyers for both sides say the judge will soon sign a legal order barring Hamidi from sending any more e-mail to Intel.

Hamidi, 52, was dismissed from Intel in 1995 after a disability leave and lives outside Sacramento. He is the founder and spokesman for Face Intel, which he says is an organization of former and current Intel employees. In an interview, Hamidi said that he plans to appeal the court's decision immediately after the order against him is filed.

"We'll appeal to the Third District Court of Appeal, and if we lose there I will go to the California Supreme Court," he said. "If necessary I will go to the United States Supreme Court. I am in a position to set a legal precedent and I take that responsibility seriously."

In his article, McSwain dealt head-on with the main legal puzzle in the Hamidi case. He explained that the First Amendment prohibits the government from restricting free speech, but that it does not apply to individuals or corporations. For that reason, he said, most people who think about the Hamidi case naturally assume that because Intel is a private company, and Hamidi is a private citizen, then the First Amendment has no role.

Not so fast, McSwain argued. Because Intel went to a judge and got him to stop Hamidi from sending e-mail, the government became involved in censorship. In other words, it is one thing for Intel to try to block unwanted e-mail to company employees. But it's another thing to ask a court to ban Hamidi from sending his missives in the first place.

"[T]he judicial enforcement of trespass laws in order to censor Internet speech constitutes state action," or action by the government, McSwain wrote. McSwain thinks Hamidi's rights would come out on top in any fair balancing test of speech rights versus property rights, given the serious purpose of his messages and the minimal harm they cause to Intel's computers.

In issuing a summary judgment in favor of Intel, Judge Lewis "basically did one-half of the analysis," McSwain said in an interview. "He took out the scales, found that there was a trespass, and said, 'That's it, Hamidi can't speak.'"

The court really did not engage in any First Amendment analysis at all, McSwain said. He added that a Harvard Law professor, Charles R. Nesson, sent Judge Lewis a draft of his article in early April as an aid to his decision.

McSwain is not the only cyberlaw thinker who believes Judge Lewis got it wrong. Jonathan Zittrain, executive director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School, helped supervise McSwain's article. He said in an interview that the center "is considering further participation in the case, which may take the form of an amicus brief," to express support for Hamidi's position.

"I think the Hamidi case is a great vehicle from which to explore whether and how the First Amendment applies when you've got putatively private actors going about their business in cyberspace," Zittrain said. He added that the landmark case Times v. Sullivan provides a good guide. In that case, which also involved private parties, the Supreme Court found that judicial enforcement of state libel law brought the First Amendment into play.

Michael A. Jacobs, a lawyer with Morrison & Foerster in San Francisco who represents Intel in the Hamidi case, said he had read the Harvard Law Review article but did not agree with it.

For one thing, he thinks the trespass claim is rock solid. "On appeal, we will invoke a number cases that have already held that unwanted electronic signals to a private server under the right circumstances are trespass to chattels," he said. He added that a 1997 Federal case is squarely in his corner. In that case, CompuServe Inc. v. Cyber Promotions Inc., a Federal District Court in Ohio held that Cyber Promotion's delivery of unwanted commercial e-mail, known as "spam," to CompuServe's subscribers was a trespass.

In his article, McSwain said that the CompuServe case should not influence the judge's decision in the Hamidi dispute, because Hamidi sent politically charged messages, not spam.

Jacobs also said that asking a court to enforce a private-property law does not turn a dispute into a major First Amendment issue.

"Over the last 20 years, courts have made it clear that when they are involved in the enforcement of neutral private-property rights, they do not balance speech against property interests," he said. "Otherwise every time someone stepped on your front lawn and started screaming at you, the case could be constitutionalized," he said.

For Jacobs, the most fascinating aspect of the Hamidi case is not the state action issue but rather the implications of "cheap speech," which is made possible by the Internet.

"The reason this case arose, and the reason the trespass to chattels doctrine is so important, is because Ken Hamidi, at the push of a button, can bombard Intel with thousands of messages, no matter how hard Intel tries to block them," he said. That possibility did not exist before cyberspace came along.

Hamidi agrees. "What is the meaning of the Internet? It means that for the first time someone like me can communicate en masse instantaneously," he said. "I want to support that freedom."


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Source:  Yahoo News

Yahoo! NewsTechnology Headlines
Wednesday July 7 12:52 AM ET

Former Intel Engineer Delivers Message On Horseback

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (Reuters) - Barred by a California court last month from sending e-mail to employees at his former employer, an ex-Intel Corp. (Nasdaq:INTC - news) engineer showed up at Intel's headquarters on horseback Tuesday to deliver his latest communique.

Ken Hamidi, who worked for Intel for several years as a quality engineer before being fired, rode up to Intel's Robert Noyce Building on horseback in western attire and handed a floppy disk to an Intel representative.

``He indicated that he intended to appeal,'' said Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy. ``There is nothing new in his position.'' The legal battle, however, may determine how far the First Amendment's guarantee of free speech extends into cyberspace.

Hamidi believes it is his right to send Intel workers unsolicited e-mails criticizing the world's largest semiconductor maker. Hamidi established an organization called Former and Current Employees of Intel (FACE Intel) that supports grievances against the company. The FACE Intel Web site (http://www.faceintel.com) lambastes the chip giant on many fronts.

``This event is intended to illustrate the absurdity of Intel's actions in obtaining a court to bar me from sending e-mail over the Internet,'' Hamidi said in a statement. ``If Intel can do this to me, they can do it to any of us. Intel's position is a serious threat to freedom of speech in cyberspace.''

A California Superior Court Judge ruled last month that he was trespassing on private property with his mass e-mails.

Mulloy said he was not sure yet what Intel would do with the floppy disk message from Hamidi.

``The e-mails notwithstanding, he has his own Web site, he talks to the press, he has done leaflet mailings to universities where we recruit,'' Mulloy said. ``He has been very prolific in exercising his freedom of speech.''

While on a business trip for Intel in 1990, Hamidi was in an auto accident that resulted in a back injury. After two years of working with the injury, he left on a medical leave of absence and was fired three years later after a protracted workers' compensation lawsuit.

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Source:  ZDNN



Intel critic takes to horseback  July 7, 199
Barred from sending e-mails to Intel employees, Ken Hamidi delivers his message on horseback.
By Reuters
July 7, 1999 4:53 AM PT

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Barred by a California court last month from sending e-mail to employees at his former employer, an ex-Intel Corp. engineer showed up at Intel's headquarters on horseback Tuesday to deliver his latest communique.

Ken Hamidi, who worked for Intel (Nasdaq:INTC) for several years as a quality engineer before being fired, rode up to Intel's Robert Noyce Building on horseback in western attire and handed a floppy disk to an Intel representative.

"He indicated that he intended to appeal," said Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy. "There is nothing new in his position." The legal battle, however, may determine how far the First Amendment's guarantee of free speech extends into cyberspace.

Facing off against Intel
Hamidi believes it is his right to send Intel workers unsolicited e-mails criticizing the world's largest semiconductor maker. Hamidi established an organization called Former and Current Employees of Intel (FACE Intel) that supports grievances against the company. The FACE Intel Web site (http://www.faceintel.com) lambastes the chip giant on many fronts.

"This event is intended to illustrate the absurdity of Intel's actions in obtaining a court to bar me from sending e-mail over the Internet," Hamidi said in a statement. "If Intel can do this to me, they can do it to any of us. Intel's position is a serious threat to freedom of speech in cyberspace."

A California Superior Court Judge ruled last month that he was trespassing on private property with his mass e-mails.

Mulloy said he was not sure yet what Intel would do with the floppy disk message from Hamidi.

"The e-mails notwithstanding, he has his own Web site, he talks to the press, he has done leaflet mailings to universities where we recruit," Mulloy said. "He has been very prolific in exercising his freedom of speech."

While on a business trip for Intel in 1990, Hamidi was in an auto accident that resulted in a back injury. After two years of working with the injury, he left on a medical leave of absence and was fired three years later after a protracted workers' compensation lawsuit.


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Source:  ZD Net

ZD Net       April 28, 1999

Former Intel worker loses e-mail decision

Free speech advovates worried the case would curtail e-mail freedoms.

April 28, 1999 10:42 AM PT

SACRAMENTO -- A judge ordered a disgruntled former employee who bombarded Intel Corp. workers with company-bashing electronic mail from sending any more of the messages.

The ruling came Tuesday in the case of Ken Hamidi, 51, of Citrus Heights, Calif., an Intel Corp. (Nasdaq:INTC) Engineer fired in 1995 over unresolved claims of job-related injuries.

Hamidi started a group called Former and Current Employees-Intel, known as Face-Intel, devoted to proving that Intel mistreats its workers.

Intel, a Santa Clara-based producer of microprocessors, says the stories posted on Face-Intel's Web site -- such as blaming Intel for one worker's suicide and accusing the company of running a sweatshop in Malaysia-- are untrue.

Hamidi also has waged a direct e-mail campaign, sending Intel employees messages seven times.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge John R. Lewis granted Intel's request that Hamidi be barred from sending electronic missives to its workers.

Not free speech issue
The company argued that Hamidi's e-mails, sent on separate occasions to as many as 30,000 Intel employees, were the equivalent of trespassing on the company's private computer system.

Lewis agreed.

"The mere connection of Intel's e-mail system with the Internet does not convert it into a public forum," the judge wrote. "The court finds that Hamidi's e-mails are not protected speech."

The Intel vs. Ken Hamidi case gained national attention among First Amendment advocates. Some fear the ruling could significantly restrict the freedom to send e-mail to specific groups of people.

Hamidi said he plans to appeal the decision.

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