US court orders firm to pay $2m fine for violating spam law

California attorney general Bill Lockyer claimed victory in the state's first antispam lawsuit last week, after a court ordered...

California attorney general Bill Lockyer claimed victory in the state's first antispam lawsuit last week, after a court ordered PW Marketing and its owners to pay a $2m (£1.2m) fine for violating California laws against sending unsolicited commercial e-mail.

Spam costs US businesses nearly $9bn (£5.3bn) a year in lost productivity and screening expenses, and accounts for roughly 40% of all e-mail, Lockyer said. 

The case was won a month after California passed antispam legislation prohibiting unsolicited e-mail advertisements sent to or from any California residents. That statute takes effect from 1 January.

PW Marketing and its owners, Paul Willis and Claudia Griffin, were charged under existing California antispam law for sending millions of unsolicited e-mail advertisements promoting products claiming to help recipients make money through sending spam which hawked books, software and lists of e-mail addresses.

The company and its owners are also prohibited from sending any unsolicited commercial e-mail, disguising their identity by sending e-mail that appears to originate from an e-mail address that is not their own and accessing and using computers and computer systems of persons without their permission.

PW Marketing are barred for 10 years from owning, managing and holding any economic interest in any company that advertises over the internet without first providing written notice to the attorney general.

Lockyer said that he would use the same "injunctive relief" provisions in future enforcement actions.

The court victory enforces concern over spam among both politicians and internet industry who see it as a modern-day scourge which curbs the internet's legitimate business potential.

Scarlett Pruitt writes for IDG News Service



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