This service, "Find Email Free", offers to collect email addresses from its users, and then share them with the users.

It seems not only morally wrong on several moral grounds, but also shockingly illegal on many accounts (invasion of privacy, harassment, spam, etc).

Is this service legal, and how is it currently allowed to place ads on social media?


I don't see anything illegal here.

Americans are allowed to communicate facts to other people. Any law purporting to limit that ability would have to beat a First Amendment challenge, which is typically a tough thing to do.

With regard to the specific causes of action you mentioned, none of them would apply:

  • Privacy: this would not be an intrusion upon seclusion or a public disclosure of private facts, both of which require that the acquisition or dissemination of the plaintiff's information be "highly offensive to the reasonable person." An e-mail address is basic directory information that people freely disclose on a regular basis and often make affirmative efforts to publicize. It would not satisfy that test.
  • Harassment: Harassment requires some contact between the defendant and the victim. Giving the service your e-mail address doesn't involve contacting you.
  • Spam: Spam also requires that someone send you e-mail. Giving the service your e-mail address doesn't involve sending you an e-mail.

That's obviously all assuming normal use as intended by the service. Other cases could present different scenarios, especially if a user takes your e-mail and uses it to harass you or do something else, those actions would be illegal, but holding the service liable for the user's offenses based on its receipt or disclosure of information would almost certainly fail on First Amendment grounds.

Because the service is legal, there's really no legal reason to prohibit it from advertising on social media. A law prohibiting those advertisements would probably also fail under the First Amendment. Different platforms would of course be free to independently choose not to allow those ads.

  • @MicroMachine I'll just cite two opinions from U.S. appellate courts supporting the answer's (+1) remark that the offered service does not invade privacy: U.S. v. Forrester, 512 F.3d 500, 510 (9th Cir., 2008) ("e-mail and internet users have no expectation of privacy in to/from addresses of their messages"), and Guest v. Leis, 255 F.3d 325, 333 (6th Cir., 2001) ("[Users] would lose a legitimate expectation of privacy in an e-mail that has already reached its recipient"). Jun 24 '18 at 11:18

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.