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Spammers Fined A$5.5 million 129

Mick Bailey writes "A Perth company and it's director have been issued a A$5.5 million (approx. US$4 million) fine for breaching anti-spam laws. Australian IT watchers may be familiar with the director, Robert Mansfield — he's been personally fined A$1 million for the offenses. The Company, Clarity1, sent 280 million unsolicited emails of which 74 million hit mailboxes between 4/2004 and 4/2006."
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Spammers Fined A$5.5 million

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  • Is it enough? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jmagar.com ( 67146 ) on Friday October 27, 2006 @09:13AM (#16607820) Homepage
    I wonder if he's made enough money from the spam to cover this fine. It could turn out that this just becomes the cost of doing business...

    I prefer to see jail time for these guys.

    • Re:Is it enough? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by AoT ( 107216 ) on Friday October 27, 2006 @09:19AM (#16607902) Homepage Journal
      I'm just happy that laws such as these have reduced the amount of spam I recieve.

      Oh, wait.

      Damnit, they haven't.

      Maybe someone needs to starts DOSing the sites that are advertised for in spam, then people would be afraid to go to spammers for advertising.
      • by mgblst ( 80109 )
        Give it some time, it takes a while for this to have an effect.

        Of course, the law needs to be passed in more countries.
      • i think vigilante avenue has been explored.. 'member blue security?? as i recall it didn't work out real well for them..
        • Yeah, because they backed down. They didn't stay the course because they had investors to please. I'm looking forward to the Okopipi project's debut.
      • Maybe someone needs to starts DOSing the sites that are advertised for in spam, then people would be afraid to go to spammers for advertising.
        you ever looked at the urls? they often use exploited legitimate sites to host the spam payload for this very reason.
      • by Phroggy ( 441 ) *
        Maybe someone needs to starts DOSing the sites that are advertised for in spam, then people would be afraid to go to spammers for advertising.

        Your post advocates a

        ( ) technical ( ) legislative ( ) market-based (X) vigilante

        approach to fighting spam. Your idea will not work. Here is why it won't work. (One or more of the following may apply to your particular idea, and it may have other flaws which used to vary from state to state before a bad federal law was passed.)

        ( ) Spammers can easily use it to harvest

        • ( ) Joe jobs and/or identity theft Missed one.
        • by AoT ( 107216 )
          Anyway, my point is, if you DoS the client's web site, you're not hurting the spammer at all. Plus, any DoS will affect innocent bystanders. So don't do it; it's not the right answer.

          If you DOS the clients website you may not hurt the pammer directly, but that isn't the idea. The idea is to make going to spammers the wrong choice for people trying to advertise, this would hurt spammers of a type.

          Aside from that, you're right when you say:

          "(X) Sorry dude, but I don't think it would work."

          But a I can dream, c
      • "Maybe someone needs to starts DOSing the sites that are advertised for in spam, then people would be afraid to go to spammers for advertising."

        It's been done http://mlns.starring.se/ [starring.se] and in one case it worked so well http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_security [wikipedia.org] that the spammers declared war on the internet in defense of their right to spam.
    • Wow, I never thought of it that way.

      Just think if one in every 10,000 people you spammed actually bought the product, that gets you some revenue. Then take all the banner adds you have on your site (some non-techie people may click the link just to see), more revenue. That fine may just be a drop in the bucket for a "successful spammer."

      But you need to look at the other side of things too. Anti-spam companies are making a lot of money from spam too. Just look at all of the different Anti-spam products [google.com] y
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        "But you need to look at the other side of things too. Anti-spam companies are making a lot of money from spam too."

        Another cost that spammers should have to fund when they are caught. We shouldn't have to pay for anti-spam services, the spammers should.
        • I understand what you are saying, and I hate spam just as much as everyone else does, but anti-spam services are not a necessity.

          People can just go through and manually delete the 150+ pen15 enlargement adds they get a day.

          Its kind of like making a robber pay for your home security system after they get caught. We shouldn't have to pay for it, we are not going to rob our own house.
          • "Its kind of like making a robber pay for your home security system after they get caught. We shouldn't have to pay for it, we are not going to rob our own house."

            I also understand your point. I really would like to bill for the % of bandwidth consumed by spam and the time I spend deleting it though. Considering that spam is illegal spammers should not only be fined, they should spend time in prison like any other thief. Spam is worse than telemarketing calls, with them I can check my caller ID and not answ
            • Spam is worse than telemarketing calls, with them I can check my caller ID and not answer (they don't usually leave a message), with spam I have no choice but to deal with it somehow.
              But you did deal with telemarketing...by purchasing caller id.
              • Or perhaps he purchased CallerID to see who was calling. Picking up spammers is just a little something extra.

              • "But you did deal with telemarketing...by purchasing caller id."

                No, I have a cell phone and my service comes with caller id... but you do have another good point.
    • by uwnav ( 1009705 ) on Friday October 27, 2006 @09:26AM (#16607958)
      YES! Jail! and the next time I seen them damn kids dropping flyers on my front porch.. I'll be waiting with my shotgun. Spam is annoying for me just as it is for the next person, but you still have to carry those flyers from the mailbox to the recycling bin (or put a recycling bin at my front door saying "Yes Flyers Please!") but that'd hardly the point.. I think jail-time would be somewhat extreme
      • YES! Jail! and the next time I seen them damn kids dropping flyers on my front porch.. I'll be waiting with my shotgun. Spam is annoying for me just as it is for the next person, but you still have to carry those flyers from the mailbox to the recycling bin (or put a recycling bin at my front door saying "Yes Flyers Please!") but that'd hardly the point.. I think jail-time would be somewhat extreme

        why exactly? running a spam filter costs me, the companies etc extra money in loss of CPU idle cycles. why sh

        • by uwnav ( 1009705 )
          well I'm sure your spam filters are ringing up quite the electricity bill.. but I'm sure it takes him a lot more resources to send you that email than it does for you to block it. going back to my flyer example.. it's like saying you're ticked off at the work you have to put in to drag those flyers to the recycling bin (if you have any sort of conscience and dont just throw in the trash).. but I'd say it takes a *significantly* larger amount of effort on the part of the company who's printing and distributi
          • well I'm sure your spam filters are ringing up quite the electricity bill.. but I'm sure it takes him a lot more resources to send you that email than it does for you to block it. going back to my flyer example.. it's like saying you're ticked off at the work you have to put in to drag those flyers to the recycling bin (if you have any sort of conscience and dont just throw in the trash)..

            not true. back in the day we could run 20x the email, now we have to filter it and virus check... that reduces the amo

            • by uwnav ( 1009705 )
              hmmm, it is plausible that spam costs a lot of time/effort/money... but you can't be arguing that it takes more resources to filter emails than to generate and send those. Lets not forget that although you've spent all this .. work on spam filters, all your spam doesn't originate from one person. So you can hardly blame the one guy/company alone in Australia. It does have to start somewhere... but lets try another analogy.. if you've got a steamy pie sitting on a windowsill and there's flies flying around i
              • hmmm, it is plausible that spam costs a lot of time/effort/money... but you can't be arguing that it takes more resources to filter emails than to generate and send those. Lets not forget that although you've spent all this .. work on spam filters, all your spam doesn't originate from one person. So you can hardly blame the one guy/company alone in Australia. It does have to start somewhere... but lets try another analogy.. if you've got a steamy pie sitting on a windowsill and there's flies flying around i

                • by uwnav ( 1009705 )
                  yeeesh, you can't possibly think you're not being slightly extreme here. I acknowledge the whole insect scent thing.. but giving the chair to one of them? These people aren't eating your babies... there's ... hundreds .. and thousands of things that are making the world worse for everyone. Your perception is that spammers make the *whole world* so much worse, if they'd all get the chair.. then you're telling me it's justified for a hippie to jump onto their bicycle with a shotgun and pop every SUV driver ou
                  • then you're telling me it's justified for a hippie to jump onto their bicycle with a shotgun and pop every SUV driver out there cause they're making "the world worse for everyone" by destroying the ozone? .. that's *ONE* of the .. HUNDREDS of things that's making the world worse for everyone over spam

                    true. but the SUV is not illegal just yet, it will be soon, and in the UK there are talks to heavily tax the things off the road, which i agree with, totally. but, it's illegal to spam. so its about time we t

      • YES! Jail! and the next time I seen them damn kids dropping flyers on my front porch.. I'll be waiting with my shotgun. Spam is annoying for me just as it is for the next person, but you still have to carry those flyers from the mailbox to the recycling bin (or put a recycling bin at my front door saying "Yes Flyers Please!") but that'd hardly the point.. I think jail-time would be somewhat extreme

        That's just a terrible analogy. It's more like someone hacking into your print server and making all of your p

      • The kids are using their own resources.
        Spamming is like phoning with reverse charges [userfriendly.org]. It costs you!
    • Jail time is a less effective deterrent for business crime because to many people, a year in prison is a lower price to pay than a million dollars. It is not too uncommon that fraudsters will try and earn serious amounts of money, hide them somewhere in Switzerland, and be rich after they leave prison, when noone is watching. Large fines mean they and their spending are being under close observation until everything is repaid (which may take a lifetime), so they are less likely to gain much from their crime
    • You may prefer to see Jail time, I would rather see them be forced spend time deleating the spam off computers one message at a time. that or a good bull wip is also a good idea.
    • So in other slashdot news people get jail time for hosting torrents which impact a limited number of people/business.

      Yet, only fines for impacting a HUGE number of people/business??

    • by v1 ( 525388 )
      I suppose if you make 20B$, knowing you are risking a 5B$ fine is just the cost of doing business, and if it means clearing 15B$ proffit in a few years, why wouldn't you?

      Lock them up instead. Fines are just business. Jail time is incentive to behave.
    • I prefer to see jail time for these guys.

      The judgment against him includes an injunction against further spamming. If he violates that injunction he probably will go to jail, even though that isn't a normal part of the penalties for breaking the law. Injunctions like that are intended to prevent lawbreakers from thinking of fines as "the cost of doing business", I guess.

    • by donak ( 609594 )
      Add to that a ban on touching a computer of any sort (a la Kevin Mitnick's 5 year ban), but in the case of a spammer, make it for life, with a years prison time per keystroke!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 27, 2006 @09:20AM (#16607918)
    Coming up next: Spammer gets US court to order australia to stop interfering with his business, and tries to get them to order Icann to remove the .au TLD.
  • The gavel falls (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dekortage ( 697532 ) on Friday October 27, 2006 @09:21AM (#16607926) Homepage

    The original court decision [austlii.edu.au] was handed down last April; this is the punishment. Additionally, when the case went to court in 2005, the courts handed Clarity1 an an injunction against sending more spam [acma.gov.au]. So it sounds like Mansfield first violated the law, then violated a court injunction.

    I wonder if he can pay the fine in e-mail promotion services?

    • by Arancaytar ( 966377 ) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Friday October 27, 2006 @09:55AM (#16608324) Homepage
      > I wonder if he can pay the fine in e-mail promotion services? "c0ur1 dec1s1ons & 1njunct10n5! 100% gu4rant33d!"
    • So it sounds like Mansfield first violated the law, then violated a court injunction.

      I understand that Mansfield appealed the initial injunction, and it was changed. I think the argument went something like this.

      Govt: He's continuing to break the law, your honour. Order him to stop.
      Judge: Fair enough. So ordered.
      Wayne: Hang on, I'm not breaking the law! I have permission from all those recipients: that's my point. If I can't send email for the duration of this case it will be crippling to my business.

  • I sort of read that "Fined A$$ Million" ala fined out the ass... *sigh*
  • by krell ( 896769 ) on Friday October 27, 2006 @09:34AM (#16608072) Journal
    A fine for these guys is too easy. They should serve some sort of hard time, like in a prison or penal colony. Or imagine exiling them to a whole continent set aside to imprison them.... Oh wait.
    • by aussersterne ( 212916 ) on Friday October 27, 2006 @09:50AM (#16608264) Homepage
      Put them to work in a special prison computer room where they have to filter SPAM out of government email boxes by hand, one click at a time, 10 hours/day. Every time they let a SPAM message through or accidentally can a good message, they get 24 hours in solitary confinement without food. No, make that they get 24 hours in solitary confinement and have to eat nothing but hunks of SPAM for the rest of the week.

      They should receive 1 year of time in prison doing this for every 1 year they were SPAMming on the outside.
      • Let me get this straight...

        You want to have convicted felons get access to and read government email?

        Should this be at all levels of government (town, state, national), including the department of defense, intelligence agencies and the military?

        Also, who's checking to see if they create false positives? More felons? Guarding, housing and feeding your large spam slave population is starting to sound way more expensive than using a few more servers equipped with half decent filters.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Spacejock ( 727523 )
      like in a prison or penal colony

      Dude, this is Australia ...
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by 1u3hr ( 530656 )
      A fine for these guys is too easy. They should serve some sort of hard time, like in a prison or penal colony.

      Oh, hilarious. An American making prison colony jokes about Australia. For us, that was 150 years ago. For you, it's Guantanamo Bay.

      • by krell ( 896769 )
        " For you, it's Guantanamo Bay."

        That will do as a stand-in for Australia in a pinch. All we have to is add a few roos, hang everyone from their feet so they are upside-down, and hire Mel Gibson as a prison guard.
        • by 1u3hr ( 530656 )
          , and hire Mel Gibson as a prison guard.

          Mel was born in New York. You can keep him.

    • by DaveMN ( 960075 )
      The hard time is apparently reserved for folks hosting Bit Torrent trackers.
    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by Jeff DeMaagd ( 2015 )
      How much is A$6M? Is it enough to buy a couple candy bars?
    • Sentence them to live in a small town. As the old joke goes, every day in a small town feels like an eternity.
    • by samj ( 115984 ) *
      We have our very own island for that - it's called 'Tasmania'.
    • I understand the island of Pomita, off the coast of Tasmania, is available for these types.
  • by lottameez ( 816335 ) on Friday October 27, 2006 @09:35AM (#16608084)
    Can someone please post his email? I'd like to send him some great money saving offers.
  • No Jail Time? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Friday October 27, 2006 @09:45AM (#16608208) Homepage Journal
    Spam laws should mandate 1 second of jail time for every spam message sent. That's a half to a third of the time the average spam wastes for me.
    • by Panaqqa ( 927615 )
      So let's see... 280,000,000 spam messages equals what, about 9 years?

      Really, I'd like to see SOME jail time on these if in fact a criminal law is broken, but isn't 9 years a little much? How about a token 90 days with 3-5 years for reoffending? That seems more in line. Just one catch though: he has to spend 16 hours a day of those 90 days clicking a "Delete" button.
      • by Greyfox ( 87712 )
        Well if it takes on average 3 seconds to identify a spam by title and delete it without opening it this dude wasted 27 years of people's time. And that's not even counting people who opened the mail or the ones who actually responded to him. Nor does it take into consideration the resources used to store and forwar dhis mail. Odds are that when you add everything up the cost was well over one human lifespan. I'd say wasting 9 years of his time in return is letting him off easy.

        Of course we know that a leg

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Friday October 27, 2006 @09:48AM (#16608240) Journal
    These spammers operate on ridiculously low cost for sending mail. Increasing the cost of sending email is neither viable nor desirable. The best option is to increase the cost of benefitting from replies. Only one in a million or two emails produce a prospect for the spammer right now. Just imagine some bots that reply to these spams with bogus phone numbers or credit card numbers. So he now gets 100 or 1000 replies for a million emails he/she is sending out. One or two, at the most, would be real b00bs replying and the rest would be bogus. Now the problem of filtering out bogus replies from real replies is on his end. Just increase the cost just a little. The bogus replies need not be impossible to spot. All we have to do is to increase the cost of processing replies. That will put a dent into spam ops.

    If some activists get some action from the credit card companies, phone companies and FBI and set up honeypot phone numbers, bank account, credit card numbers to trap the spammers at the point where they try to cash in, that would be nice.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Hoi Polloi ( 522990 )
      Hello, I'm the son of General Nutumbo (retired) of the Nigerian Army. He was very happy to find out that thousands of honest Americans were willing to help him move his $43 million dollar oil renvenues out of the National Bank of Nigeria with their financial help. Now I find out it was all a trick. Shame on you!
    • Bad idea:
      1. Spammers never get replies. They send from botfarms with fake email addresses. Replying will either result in you getting back a postmaster "unknown user" message, or further clogging the email box of the poor sod whose email address they "borrowed".
      2. For this reason, business is never conducted by replying to spam - you either click a link, call a number or respond to a different address they provide in the message body. These would be harder to implement as anti-spam bots (especially the "call-a-n
    • by misleb ( 129952 )
      Very few spams actually use a replay as a response. Usually they want you to visit a website and fills something out. How are you goign to automate that? What if the URL is in a image? What if they want you to call?

      -matthew
      • by Panaqqa ( 927615 )
        Automating that is actually very easy. Go through your inbox with IMAP and capture the hyperlinks in the email source, grab the website (using a proxy) at the link and see if there's a form there. If there's a form, fill it in using honeypot credit cards and emails. Send any cookie and session information it gives you to a central location which does capture and enforcement. Submit the form with your own headers substituted, so when it sends back a page, that page goes to the central location you just repor
        • by misleb ( 129952 )
          And this is supposed to accomplish what, exactly? What is this "central location" you are talking about? Sounds like it assumes a lot about the nature of the spam and the people doing the spamming.

          -matthew
    • by Phroggy ( 441 ) *
      Your post advocates a

      ( ) technical ( ) legislative ( ) market-based (X) vigilante

      approach to fighting spam. Your idea will not work. Here is why it won't work. (One or more of the following may apply to your particular idea, and it may have other flaws which used to vary from state to state before a bad federal law was passed.)

      (X) Spammers can easily use it to harvest email addresses
      ( ) Mailing lists and other legitimate email uses would be affected
      ( ) No one will be able to find the guy or collect the mone
  • I bet that makes them depressed.

    Perhaps they should seek out some Net-based therapy.

    Maybe they need to subscribe to mailing lists for d1a2ep@m.

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  • "The Company, Clarity1, sent 280 million unsolicited emails of which 74 million hit mailboxes between 4/2004 and 4/2006."

    WTF? I bet they were sending that much in less than one day:
    10k zombie hosts * average 0.1 successful sents per sec * 3600 * 24 = 86.4 million emails sent in 24h.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    To me it looks like an A$5 load of cash and then some.
  • I have to admit that the number of emails surprised me. 74 million just doesn't seem like that much for a 2 year period. I'm not a spammer, but it just seems like they couldn't have been maxing out their pipe. I dunno. The spam business model confuses me a bit, anyway, but really, if I have a list of addresses that is, say, 1 million large (seems reasonable from what I've heard) that means they only send out 74 iterations over the span of 730 days. That's like less than one iteration a week. Does it t
    • There are probably no hard facts of how many were sent - maybe the numbers quoted are only what was received by a particular email provider.
    • I actually run a service which sends out opted-in newsletters for a number of clients. The average newsletter contains text, links, and some graphics, and is about 50K bytes. I regularly do runs of more than 1,000,000 emails. Based on what I know of it, 1,000,000 50K average messages can be sent in under 5 days by one server.

      That server BTW is a P4 2.4GHz running LAMP with a dedicated 1.5Mbps pipe.
    • I'd assume that that number refers to the mails identifiable as violating the law from the spammer in order to be counted, they'd have to be collectable, identifiable, and end up in the jurisdiction of the court (Austrailia).
      I'm sure that the number is a tiny fraction of the total number sent.
  • A few stingray barbs to the heart and they'll think twice about spamming.
    • by Phroggy ( 441 ) *
      Your post advocates a

      ( ) technical ( ) legislative ( ) market-based (X) vigilante

      approach to fighting spam. Your idea will not work. Here is why it won't work. (One or more of the following may apply to your particular idea, and it may have other flaws which used to vary from state to state before a bad federal law was passed.)

      ( ) Spammers can easily use it to harvest email addresses
      ( ) Mailing lists and other legitimate email uses would be affected
      ( ) No one will be able to find the guy or collect the mone
      • Your response does not take into account:
        ( ) You're a bit uptight
        (X) Tasteless jokes are common on /.

        Additionally you should:
        (X) Grow a sense of humor.
        (X) Quit writing such long trollish posts.
        (X) Have a nice day.
  • This is not as bad as it sounds. After all, these are those puny Australian dollars, and not real Dollars.
  • Summary is in error (Score:3, Informative)

    by The Famous Brett Wat ( 12688 ) on Friday October 27, 2006 @02:23PM (#16612430) Homepage Journal
    It's WAYNE Mansfield. "Robert" is his middle name. I was one of the people who lodged a complaint and appeared as a witness in the case. The ACMA press release [acma.gov.au] on the matter is a pretty good resource. I have a blog entry [tfbw.com] on the subject which is short and to the point, and has useful links to other resources (like the ACMA press release).
  • Surprised nobody else caught this.

    A$5.5 Million.
    Ass.s Million.

    Sure it's a potty joke in l337 speak, which is why it surprises me that on a site of geeks we all missed it.

Whenever people agree with me, I always think I must be wrong. - Oscar Wilde

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