With increasing use of broadband and e-mail in general, inboxes are getting fuller each day with spam e-mails promoting anything from prescription drugs to more legitimate services. If you are tired of getting spammed and wish to help put a stop to it, you could consider taking a spammer to court. This is what Gordon Dick did when he received an unsolicited commercial e-mail from Transcom Internet Services Ltd. ("Transcom"). Mr Dick is an individual member of Nominet UK which operates the .uk domain registry and a mailing list for its members. Transcom sent him a message to a private e-mail address he used on the mailing list advertising its services. He has now set up a website advising others how to sue spammers and receive compensation. In this particular case, Mr Dick was awarded £750 damages (plus 8% interest) and £618.66 in expenses due to the unreasonableness of the defendant in dealing with the case. This follows a previous case instigated by Nigel Roberts against Media Logistics (UK) Ltd. which was settled out of court for £300.
This is the second known case of consumers using recent legislation prohibiting spamming to private e-mail addresses, the first, we believe, in Scotland. The two pieces of legislation which are relevant are the Data Protection Act 1998 and the "Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 which derive from the European Union. These regulations apply to e-mail as well as other electronic mail mediums such as SMS text messages.
"Marketers cannot send, or instigate the sending of, unsolicited marketing material by electronic mail to an individual subscriber unless the subscriber has previously notified them that they consent, for the time being, to receiving such communications. There is an exception to this rule which has been widely referred to as the 'soft opt-in' (Regulation
Marketers cannot send, or instigate the sending of any marketing by electronic mail (whether solicited or unsolicited) to any subscriber (whether corporate or individual) where: (a) the identity of the sender has been disguised or concealed; or (b) a valid address to which you can send an opt-out request has not been provided (Regulation 23 refers)."Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations - Guidance for Subscribers
This action took place in the Small Claims court which minimises the risk for expenses even if a case is lost. You can find more resources and sample letters to send to companies which have sent your personal address unsolicited e-mail. It is important to note that the law in question currently only prohibits spamming individuals and not companies, something we would hope is extended.