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Heroic UK ISP Boss Forcing Junk Email Spammers to Pay Up

Monday, Jul 8th, 2013 (1:20 am) - Score 2,151

Junk email, we all hate it! But what if you could do something that would make them pay you for clogging up your inbox? The Director of broadband ISP Andrews & Arnold (AAISP), Adrian Kennard, has found a way after he successfully won £40 (well.. almost) by taking two email spammers to task.

At present it is illegal in the United Kingdom to send spam (direct marketing email) to an individual subscriber unless the email was obtained from making a previous sale, relates to similar products, has a simple opt-out, and you have not opted out (Section 22 of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003).

Sadly SPAM continues to be a huge problem and this is largely due to its international cross-border dynamic, as well as the fact that a lot of it can be sent through botnets (computers that have been hijack by a Virus/Trojan). However it’s not always from a global source and many UK firms continue to flout the laws, which is where Kennard found a partial solution. Here’s how he did it.

Adrian Kennard told ISPreview.co.uk:

I have managed to get paid, twice. One I told not to spam me again, they did, and so I sent a bill for £5 (a very arbitrary estimate of my costs). They ignored me so I issued a county court claim, costing me £25. You need to warn them that you will issue a county court claim and give them time to respond.

https://www.moneyclaim.gov.uk makes it very easy to issue a claim. State the facts clearly, reference the regulations, claim reasonable costs. Pay the court fees. Read up on the risks, but costs are limited.

The spammer’s solicitor’s said they were going to defend the case, but ended up just settling in full (without prejudice). Shame it did not go to a court hearing.

The second spammer I simply sent a polite reply pointing out that they were in breach of the regulations and that if they did not pay me £10 costs I would issue a county court claim. They apologised and paid £10.”

Kennard states that those whom seek to follow in his footsteps should ensure that the spammer they target is 1) a clearly identifiable UK company, 2) the spam was sent to an *individual*, 3) it is clearly direct marketing and 4) you definitely did not opt-in to receive it.

This should then be followed by a “polite email” quoting the regulations and asking for a small amount of damages and advising you will issue a claim if they do not pay up. It’s also important to give them time to reply (e.g. 14 days).

Adrian Kennard added:

But I would recommend the county court claim process if you have not done it before, as it is very educational, even if you end up losing your £25 court fee somehow you will learn a lot by taking someone to court – and what better than trying this out on a spammer?

However the vexed question of “damages” remains a tricky area to define, which is one reason why Kennard has also started an ePetition (here). This seeks to amend the regulations by defining a specific claim of up to £50; though this is currently focused on tackling junk callers, but the principle is similar.

Meanwhile there are murmurings about the possibility of an ISP-side solution that could automate the process of tackling spammers in this way but it’s too early to say anything. In the meantime it’s back to using those hit-and-miss email spam filters, which still have the annoying habit of sometimes catching legitimate messages.

It should be noted that Kennard has used the same method to force another spammer into paying £10 (hence the £40 mentioned in our title).

UPDATE

Since writing this it’s emerged that the first spammer, which had initially agreed to pay £30, now refuses to pay unless Adrian stops talking about the issue in public. This somewhat ignores that his original letter clearly stated that they were settling on a without prejudice commercial basis.

Bizarrely the spammer also seems to think that Adrian has the power to have similar content removed from other websites. Suffice to say that it looks like AAISP’s boss will get what he wanted after all, a day in court to take on the spammers.

Mark-Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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