Dutch authorities have issued their first fines for spam originating in the country.
Telecommunications regulator OPTA, which is responsible for regulating spam in the Netherlands, issued three separate fines on Tuesday, the first since the Dutch government agreed in May to a ban on unsolicited e-mail to consumers.
“We have been collecting complaints about spam on a special spam Web site since May,” said an OPTA spokesman in a telephone interview on Wednesday. “Now we’re going after major spammers in this country, and these are the first results.”
The largest fine, €42,500 (US$58,000), was slapped on an individual who was involved in four spam runs, according to the spokesman.
A second fine, amounting €25,000, was issued to a one-man printing company, called Gorenendaal, which was soliciting orders for the book Mein Kampf, written by Adolf Hitler. “Apart from the fact that the company was sending spam, this publication is banned,” the spokesman said.
The third fine for €20,000 was issued to a group called Yellow Monday, which sent spam to mobile phones via SMS (Short Message Service). “This spam was the nastiest of all because consumers who opened the spam were automatically billed €1.10,” the spokesman said.
Asked about spam originating outside of Netherlands, the spokesman conceded that “this is a big problem.”
In a move to coordinate cross-border efforts to fight spam in Europe, OPTA has initiated an information-sharing program for regulators and other government bodies fighting spam. The program aims to establish an exchange of information about spammers across the European Union (EU).
So far, eight countries have signed up, according to the spokesman. The goal is to have all 25 EU member states on board.
“We have to be honest; we don’t expect to root out spam completely — this would be an illusion,” the spokesman said. “But we’re trying to do our best.”
To that end, the Dutch economics ministry plans to propose a new law that would extend the ban on spam to the business community, the spokesman said.