Everyone hears about how it is illegal to send spam email and that there are different fines and regulations depending on the country and state. But does anyone ever actually get in trouble? When we still receive hundreds of pieces of spam email a year, many may assume that no one is ever held accountable. However, here are some common punishments that people actually DO receive related to email.
On December 16th, 2003, President George W. Bush signed the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 into law, establishing rules that make it illegal to send out large volumes of unsolicited mail and essentially giving email recipients rights to what ends up in the inbox.
Violating these laws can result in fines, imprisonment or both, which is exactly what happened to the “Godfather of Spam” five years ago.
The man behind the notorious email title is Alan Ralsky, who was caught for sending large, commercial emails using an unauthorized computer, intending to hide the emails original source. He was sentenced to 51 months in prison for his role in an email stock scam scheme. Four others affiliated with the scheme faced time and prison and years of probation as well.
Do a Google search of “How To Sue Spammers” and you’ll realize that yes, the consequences of spamming are real.
In fact, just a few years ago NBC covered a story of a man named Dan Balsam who quit his job and started suing spammers for a living. In an attempt to get even with them, he started a website called Danhatesspam.com, all predicated on the idea that if more people “start suing the spammers and [take action against] the principals that benefit from spamming, maybe it will make a difference.” He also notes that spam comprises 90% of all email.
The website contains pages with Spam News, Small Claims Cases, California Cases, Federal Cases and so forth, for a glimpse into some of the settlements that have revolved around email spamming.
Although imprisonment and lawsuits are two extreme consequences of email spamming, customer loss is perhaps the greatest cost to a business.
When Virgin Mobile Australia received a $22,000 fine from the ACMA for sending promotional emails to recipients who had already opted out of Virgin’s email list, the telecommunications company had to pay in more ways than just the fine.
They faced considerable reputation damage, customer loss and were ordered by law to develop comprehensive training programs, quality assurance processes and an auditing regime, and will on constant scrutiny.
Other negative ramifications of spamming include ISPs terminating your service, being blacklisted, and website hosting companies refusing to provide you with their service because of a bad reputation.
Even if you’re not the kind of spammer to maliciously siphon money out of someone’s bank account or partake in highly fraudulent spamming schemes, spamming is spamming according to the law so you want to make sure you’re complying with the rules of email marketing.
Leave a comment in the section below if you know of a company who was involved in a lawsuit over email spamming.