Dutch spam suspect fined €250K

Clogged interwebs with 21m junk mails


Dutch telecoms regulators have fined a junk email spammer €250,000.

Reinier Schenkhuizen was ordered to pay €250,000 by local regulator OPTA. Of this, €150,000 was for distributing junk emails and €100,000 for failing to create a means for recipients to unsubscribe to unwanted messages, according to local reports. OPTA alleges that Schenkhuizen was a "persistent spammer", who distributed 21m junk mail messages via online mass-mailing portal ADVERTERENisGRATIS, which is owned by Schenkhuizen's firm Serinco Benelux.

The fine against Schenkhuizen will be increased by €5K per day, up to a maximum of €100K, for every day he continues to distribute spam. OPTA first warned Schenkhuizen over alleged spamming in March 2005. The receipt of 379 complaints since then, via official complaint site spamklacht.nl, prompted enforcement actions. OPTA's statement on the case (in Dutch) can be found here (English translation here).

Schenkhuizen denies the accusations. He told German Press Agency dpa that he was a software developer, whose only crime was maintaining a mailing portal.

Previous anti-spam enforcement action by OPTA including imposing fines of €510K against two corporations for consistently breaching Dutch anti-spam law back in May 2008. A Dutch botnet herder was separately hit with fines of €75K for sending 9bn spams, many promoting penis pills, in February 2007.

Anti-spam laws across Europe all exist under the same EU directive, but vary widely in how tough and effective they are. In Italy, convicted spammers are liable to face heavy fines and between six months to three years in prison. In the UK, by contrast, the worst that can happen is probably a case in the small claims court, as explained in a blog post by Rik Ferguson, a security consultant at Trend Micro, here. ®


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