Tough New Fines in Ireland for Senders of Unsolicited Mail

January 5, 2009
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By signing new legislation December 21, officials in Ireland have beefed up the laws against unsolicited emails, text messages and phone calls by adding hefty fines to convictions. Businesses found guilty of marketing without permission can be fined up to  €250,000 or 10% of their turnover. 
The original EU legislation concerning unsolicited commercial email, passed in Ireland in November of 2003, requires marketers in […]

By signing new legislation December 21, officials in Ireland have beefed up the laws against unsolicited emails, text messages and phone calls by adding hefty fines to convictions. Businesses found guilty of marketing without permission can be fined up to  €250,000 or 10% of their turnover. 

The original EU legislation concerning unsolicited commercial email, passed in Ireland in November of 2003, requires marketers in the EU to gain opt-in permission where no prior customer relationship exists. EU marketers must also make known the use of cookies and tracking devices on their sites and give people the right to reject them. EU laws put a high premium on privacy and advocate the right of an individual to receive, not necessarily the rights of marketers to send.  However, they tend to rely on industry technology advances for enforcement rather than traditional prosecution methods.  With an estimated 90% of unwanted mail coming from sources outside the EU, it’s historically been better to fight illegal mailers in the field. 

Many in Ireland believe the increase in fines pays lip service to companies whose servers are bogged down by bulk mail, but that it will do little to prevent botnets and mail coming in from outside the EU. However, it is arguably a considerable increase, as the first Irish conviction under the law brought fines of only €2,500 in 2005. If the changes in the overall ”socio-politico-judicial-economic spam climate” in the past five years globally are any indication of the future, I wouldn’t be surprised if formidable prosecution measures evolve and we start to see the courts on every level handing out more fines. I also won’t be surprised if, due to a certain blogger coining the term “socio-politico-judicial-economic spam climate,” the term becomes a part of the everyday jargon of marketers and lay-persons alike in ‘09.

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