Trio face $200,000 fines in first spam prosecution

Three men are each facing a $200,000 fine in the first prosecution in New Zealand under tough anti-spamming laws.

Internal Affairs alleges the men sent more than two million unwanted e-mail advertisements for sex toys and enhancement drugs to Kiwis.

It has lodged a $200,000 claim in the High Court against Christchurch businessman Shane Atkinson, his brother Lance Atkinson and courier Roland Smits, after raids in Christchurch last December.

It marks the first prosecution since the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act was passed in September 2007.

Internal Affairs said yesterday the trio, who allegedly ran an Internet business marketing sex toys, sex enhancement drugs and replica watches, were believed to have earned more than $2 million from their worldwide operation.

Internal Affairs deputy secretary Keith Manch said they would have sent "many millions" of spam messages internationally, but were being prosecuted for allegedly sending more than two million in New Zealand between September 5 and December 31 last year.

It is illegal to send unsolicited electronic messages, such as e-mail or text messages, without permission or implied permission.

Shane Atkinson told the BBC just before the December raids he was not a spammer.

Spam is a problem around the world. About 120 billion messages are sent every day. It clogs e-mail inboxes and slows the Internet connections.


The Dominion Post