Powers and penalties | ACMA

Powers and penalties

Search and seize powers

The Spam Act gives the ACMA powers to search premises and seize equipment where the Act is breached, and to impose and enforce penalties. The Act also provides for orders for forfeiture of profits derived from spam, and payment of compensation to spam victims.

Penalties

Penalties for breaching the Act include fines of up to $1.7 million per day. There are also provisions for spammers to forfeit profits and pay compensation to spam victims.

Botnets and criminal activity

It is illegal for any person or organisation to remotely use and control another person's computer without their knowledge or consent. Computers under the control of an unauthorised person are known as 'Botnets'. Botnets are illegal and criminal penalties apply to spammers who compromise computers and turn them into botnets. The ACMA refers botnet activities to the Australian High Tech Crime Centre or the relevant state or territory police force—depending on the botnet activity. Botnets are an offence under the Criminal Code 1995 relating to:

  • Unauthorised access and modification of data via a carriage service. For example, accessing another person's computer to install a bot. The penalty—a two-year maximum prison sentence.
  • Unauthorised modification of data via a carriage service. For example, installing a bot on another person's computer. The penalty—a 10-year maximum prison sentence.
  • Possession of data with intent to commit a computer offence. For example, possession of bot binaries and exploiting tools or installers. The penalty—a three-year maximum prison sentence.
  • Producing, distribution or obtaining data with intent to commit a computer offence. For example, writing a bot code or selling a bot code, or similar actions. The penalty—a three-year maximum prison sentence.

Participating in mule scams may lead to a criminal conviction—Australian 'mule' convicted (Sept 2007).

More information

The ACMA website provides comprehensive information about the Spam Act and how you can:

Last updated: 06 September 2017