Spammer banned from harvesting e-mail addresses

A Dutch court has ordered a spamming computer seller to stop harvesting e-mail addresses from an online address guide and to delete the already collected addresses, or face up to 100,000 euros (CDN$160,000) in fines.

NTS Computer Technology BV of Rotterdam, Netherlands, admitted it collected e-mail addresses from e-mailgids.com, an address guide for Dutch speaking Internet users with about 110,000 e-mail addresses operated by Netwise Publications BV in Diemen, Netherlands. NTS sent ads for hardware and software to the addresses.

The case further protects at least Dutch Internet users from unwanted commercial e-mail and firmly legitimizes terms of use posted on a Web site, according to Netwise.

Netwise in the e-mailgids.com terms of use forbids the collecting of e-mail addresses and spamming. NTS said it was not asked to accept those terms and should thus not have to comply, but the judge ruled that simply posting the terms of use with a single link from the front page of a Web site is enough to make those terms valid.

Netwise, which sued NTS to force it to stop abusing the e-mail address directory for direct marketing campaigns, now wants the PC seller to pay 1.9 million euros in fines. The terms of use include a fine Netwise will impose if the guide is used with the intention to use the addresses to send advertisements.

“NTS today received a letter from our attorney with the request to pay 1,858,229.98 euros for 4,095 spam e-mail messages sent to 116 of our control e-mail addresses,” Wammes Witkop, director of Aktu Publications BV, which owns Netwise, said on Monday. If NTS does not pay, Netwise will again go to court, Witkop said.

NTS could not be reached for comment.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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