Australia Convicts First Spammer

Michael Hayes
PERTH, Australia — Setting a precedent, Australian authorities have successfully convicted the first spammer under the country’s 2003 Spam Act.

Prosecutors for the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) charged Perth-based Clarity1 and owner Wayne Mansfield under the Spam Act with sending 56 million commercial emails.

The case was brought after an April 2005 raid, in which authorities seized computer hard drives and other personal materials from Mansfield’s offices.

While Mansfield argued that the email addresses in question had been obtained prior to the Act coming into effect, and that therefore the law did not apply, the court saw the matter differently.

“The fact that address-harvesting may have occurred at a time when no such prohibition was in the law does not prevent the application of the provision in its term from the date it came into force,” Justice Nicholson ruled.

According to Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, complaints about Mansfield’s spamming operation spanned the globe.

“It’s important that everyone remember that spam is a global problem, and that spammers need to be hunted down wherever in the world they may choose to hide,” Cluley said. “The ACMA should be applauded for presenting a thorough case against Wayne Mansfield, and for cutting off the tidal wave of spam originating from his company.”

The court will set a penalty for Mansfield at a later date.