Friday, December 30, 2005

First UK case on email spam

There was an article that drew my attention to the first UK case on email spam. In this case, a computer expert had instigated legal action against a company that had sent unsolicited emails. According to the article, his company had received up to 300 unwanted messages a day, which cost the company time and money to filter. The article also adds that:
He first wrote to Scotland-based Media Logistics (UK) Ltd about the unsolicited emails on contract car hire and fax broadcasting businesses, seeking an apology, damages and information on what data the company held on him.

He filed a claim at Colchester County Court when the company apologised but declined compensation and did not fully comply with his Data Protection Act information access request, he said.
The County court has ruled in the claimant's favour (the defendant company did not defend the claim), which means that he will receive compensation for breach of the The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003/2426.

The UK Information Commissioner has published guidance (pdf) on these new regulations:
1st New Rule

This rule applies to all marketing messages sent by electronic mail, regardless of who the recipient is.

• The sender must not conceal their identity and • The sender must provide a valid address for opt-out requests
2nd New Rule

This rule only applies to unsolicited marketing messages sent by electronic mail to individual subscribers. • Senders cannot send such messages unless they have the recipient’s prior consent to do so. This strict “opt-in” rule is relaxed if three exemption criteria are satisfied.

These three exemption criteria are as follows

1. The recipient’s email address was collected “in the course of a sale or negotiations for a sale” 2. The sender only sends promotional messages relating to their “similar products and services” AND 3. When the address was collected, the recipient was given the opportunity to opt out (free of charge except for the cost of transmission) which they didn’t take. The opportunity to opt out must be given with every subsequent message.
Whether we will see more cases is questionable, but the regulations are there and users affected by email spam should in the first instance, contact the UK Information Commissioner about this.

1 comment:

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