12 September 2006
ACMA executes search warrant for alleged major breaches of the Spam Act
The Australian Communications and Media Authority has recently executed a search warrant on a residential premises in relation to an allegation that an Australian resident was sending billions of unsolicited commercial electronic messages, referred to generally as ‘spam’.
‘Preliminary analysis of the email messages contained in the spam campaign has identified that over two billion emails were sent in one spam campaign,’ said Lyn Maddock, Acting ACMA Chair. ‘ACMA analysis to date has identified that the messages in the spam campaign primarily promoted Viagra products.’
The investigation commenced after ACMA received information from OPTA, the Dutch Independent Regulator of Post and Telecommunications. ACMA is working closely with overseas agencies in its investigation.
While the spam being examined by ACMA in the current investigation appears to have been sent from overseas, section 7 of the Spam Act 2003 makes it an offence for an Australian to be involved in the sending of spam if there is an ‘Australian link’. As part of its investigation, ACMA is investigating whether there is an Australian link associated with this spam campaign.
ACMA is undertaking further analysis of the information obtained as a result of executing the warrant.
Penalties for contravention of the Spam Act can be up to $220,000 per day for first-time corporate offenders and up to $1.1 million per day for repeat offenders. Profits can also be forfeited and compensation paid to victims.
As the matter is still under investigation no further comment can be made at this time.
Media contact: Donald Robertson, ACMA Media Manager on (02) 9334 7980
Spam Act 2003
ACMA is responsible for the administration and enforcement of the Spam Act 2003. The Spam Act came into force on 10 April 2004, and regulates the sending of commercial electronic messages.
Enforcement actions ACMA has undertaken since the commencement of the Act have included the issue of several fines and the successful prosecution of a major Australian spammer in the Federal Court in Perth.
ACMA received information from the Dutch Independent Regulator of Post and Telecommunications (OPTA) alleging that an Australian resident was responsible for the sending of very large volumes of unsolicited commercial electronic messages using computer servers located in their country.
While the messages are alleged to have been sent from computer servers located overseas, under the Spam Act if an ‘Australian link’ exists this activity falls within the jurisdiction of this Act.
ACMA anticipates that its investigation will be ongoing for some months.
The information supplied by the overseas regulators was in accordance with the Australian Government’s commitment to maintaining strong international co-operation with regulatory agencies in the fight against spam. ACMA continues to receive data from overseas agencies in relation to spam and also provides information to overseas agencies regarding the possible identification of overseas spammers.