Feeds

Ireland celebrates first anti-spam conviction

4's A Fortune nailed

Seven Steps to Software Security

Ireland's Data Protection Commissioner, Billy Hawkes, has secured his first conviction for a breach of the country's anti-spam law. A similar law exists in the UK but the UK Commissioner, Richard Thomas, has taken no such action to date. Ireland is also considering stiffer penalties for spammers.

4's A Fortune Limited was found guilty of sending marketing messages to five mobile phones without the consent of the subscribers – in breach of Ireland's European Communities (Electronic Communications Networks and Services) (Data Protection and Privacy) Regulations 2003. The law applies to phone and email spam.

The company – which describes itself as "Irelands first online casino-like cash game" – made a total of 165,000 calls, all to O2 customers; but the Commissioner's office is only empowered to investigate those calls that become the subject of complaints.

The calls were mostly by auto-diallers that hung-up after two rings. When recipients noticed a missed call on their phones, some of them called back to the landline number displayed. They were then put through to a recorded message which encouraged them to call a premium rate number and play a game to win money.

The rules came into force in Ireland in November 2003 and are very similar to Regulations that came into force in the UK in December 2003. They set out restrictions on unsolicited direct marketing by phone, fax, automated calling systems, email, SMS and MMS. Cold calling – the making of unsolicited calls without the prior consent of the recipient or the recipient being an existing customer – is forbidden.

The investigation into 4's A Fortune took a long time. It ran from March 2004 to December 2004, according to Senior Compliance Officer Seán Sweeney. He told OUT-LAW that in any case of this kind it will take around six months to gather the evidence. He also expressed sympathy for his counterparts in other European offices who have not taken action against spammers: it's difficult to prosecute spammers.

"This was the first case where we've had sufficient evidence to prosecute," said Sweeney. He explained that in other cases they had insufficient evidence to remove all reasonable doubt. "With email it's even more difficult than phone spam," he said. "We reckon we'd need to seize the terminal equipment to prove who sent the email."

He did point out that another offence – that of causing an email to be sent – could be applied to a company that paid for an email promotion if someone can be shown to profit from the spam; but proving who sent it is much more difficult.

4's A Fortune Limited faced a potential fine of up to €3,000 per message sent, but was fined only €300 by the court for each of the five calls complained of – a total of €1,500. The company was also ordered to pay costs of €1,000.

Sweeney added, "The judge said she was surprised that no custodial sentence was available in the Regulations – although she added that it would not have been appropriate in the circumstances of this case." The judge took into account that this was the company's first offence, that it had ceased its marketing tactic when it became aware of the Commissioner's investigation, and that it had eventually co-operated with the Commissioner's office. The company pled guilty to the offence in July and sentencing took place last week.

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
BMW's ConnectedDrive falls over, bosses blame upgrade snafu
Traffic flows up 20% as motorway middle lanes miraculously unclog
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Attackers raid SWISS BANKS with DNS and malware bombs
'Retefe' trojan uses clever spin on old attacks to grant total control of bank accounts
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.