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A US company has been fined £75,000 for spamming punters with porn emails that led to users racking up whopping phone bills.

The spam sent by New York-based BW Telecom contained peak-rate dialler software which disconnected users from their ISP before reconnecting them to a service that charged them £1.50 a minute for Net access.

UK premium-rate services regulator ICSTIS found that the email containing the Ts&Cs and dialler software was confusing.

Not only were punters, in many cases, unaware of what they were clicking onto, the software continued to work even when punters left the XXX content supplied by BW Telecom.

Further monitoring of the service showed that the software failed to disconnect automatically once the cost of the call had reached the limit of £20.00 set for premium rate services.

In all, ICSTIS received 240 complaints about the spam which promoted a premium rate adult Internet site.

Fining BW Telecom £75,000 and barring access to the service for a year, ICSTIS said: "The sending of the e-mails appeared to be entirely inappropriate as they were sent on an unsolicited basis to random e-mail addresses with no apparent attempt made to prevent them from being sent to children."

It has also instructed BW Telecom to reimburse those stung by its operation.

In 2002 two European porn operators were slapped with fines totaling £125,000 for running ads featuring child pornography.

Spanish-based Greenock (£75,000) and German-based Premium Call GmbH (£50,000) were also thumped for using dialler software that automatically downloaded itself onto PCs without users' knowledge before charging them £1.50 a minute. ®

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