December 30, 2004

Dutch Watchdog Issues Fines Vs. Spammers

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) -- The Dutch telecommunications watchdog has issued its first fines under the nation's ban on spam.

The highest single fine - for $61,000 - went to a person involved with four spam e-mails, including one message that praised Hitler's book "Mein Kampf" and was disguised to appear as if it came from a Dutch anti-spam activist, the Independent Post and Telecommunications Authority said.

The same spammer sent unwanted messages advertising financial software in cooperation with publishing company Groenendaal Uitgeverij BV, for which the company was fined $34,000, the group said.

In a separate case, a company called Yellow Monday Institute sent unwanted text messages under the name "Purple Friday" and charged $1.50 each to people who received them, according to the telecom watchdog. The company was fined $27,000.

The authority, known by its Dutch acronym Opta, also said it has signed an agreement with French privacy watchdog CNIL to exchange information on spammers. Opta has been empowered to enforce a Dutch ban on spam since May.

Opta said it has received 6,000 complaints about spam and sent 14 warnings. It said it conducted two raids last year to seize evidence and planned to levy more fines in 2005.