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Dutch Authorities Fine Man For Spamming

Authorities have found a spammer who sent out more than nine million advertisements through e-mail for items like erection pills.

The Dutch telecommunications regulator, OPTA ordered an unidentified man to pay 75,000 euros (US $98,000) in fines for obstructing users' inboxes with a massive volume of spam mails and making a monetary sum of 40,000 euros in the due course, said the regulator on February 2, 2007.

The man delivered junk messages to numerous consumers to canvass erection enhancement pills, sex products, and pornographic websites and the like, the telecommunications watchdog of Holland said in a statement. The watchdog referred to by its Dutch acronym OPTA levied the largest fine ever. The last hefty fine that it levied was 42,000 euros in 2004.

Defending himself the spammer argued that before officials caught him he had already stopped dispatching the spam. But OPTA argued that he stopped not because he realized he was doing something against the law but because he was just not earning large amounts of money.

The culprit had gathered 40,000 euros out of 9 billion spam mails over a period of 14 months. Most of the messages promoted Viagra and other sex-related products. Officials, however, said the 9 billion was only a "minimum" estimate.

OPTA pointed out an aggravating factor in this incident that was the use of hundreds of proxies. Of course, this is a common spamming tactic, which involves commandeering the computers of unwitting users. With the help of viruses or other malware, the spammer conceals the true source of the messages making them more elusive to spam-fighting tools.

Microsoft Corp helped with evidences in OPTA's investigation.

According to a directive by the European Union two years back, companies campaigning goods and services via e-mails, short message service, mobile phones or fax must reveal their identity as well as obtain the consent of the recipients. Moving on similar lines, OPTA said affected customers could contact Microsoft 'product support services'.

In 2004 Holland prohibited delivery of unsolicited e-mails. OPTA thinks it will need to issue more fines in 2007. The country makes a maximum fine imposition of 450,000 euros.

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