The first company to be convicted under Australia's anti-spamming laws was fined about $4.2 million today for sending 280 million spam emails.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority successfully prosecuted Clarity1 and its director, Wayne Mansfield, under the Australian Spam Act 2003.
The Federal Court fined the Perth-based business $3.4 million and its director $767,000 for illegally sending millions of spam messages advertising seminars and other products in the year since the spam laws were introduced in April 2004. The court also banned Clarity1 from sending unsolicited emails in the future.
Earlier this year, Justice Nicholson of the Federal Court rejected arguments from the marketing company that email recipients had consented to receive the messages. Complaints from users had been sent from as far as the United Kingdom.
Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos, said: "This is the first time that spammers have been successfully prosecuted under the Australian Spam Act, and represents a victory for the authorities and the man in the street pestered by nuisance email," he said. "Spam is a global problem, and robust action needs to be taken against spammers in order to send out a clear message that their activities are unacceptable. Substantial penalties must be handed out to those people who choose to spam and spam again in their hunt for a quick profit."
Furthermore, Cluley said that Australia's anti-spam law is a positive step towards eradicating locally produced spam. However, he warned: "Spam is a huge, complicated problem. This case is just the tip of the iceberg."