The Department of Internal Affairs’ Anti-Spam Compliance Unit is taking further High Court action against an alleged spammer, seeking financial penalties of $200,000 against the company principal and $500,000 against his company.
This is the Department’s third statement of claim against, Image Marketing Group (IMG) and the company’s director, Brendan Battles, after two were filed in the Auckland High Court Registry in February.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority recently issued a formal warning to IMG for breaching Australia’s anti-spam laws.
Internal Affairs’ latest statement of claim follows IMG’s marketing of a database of some 50,000 email addresses through an unsolicited electronic message. A businessman purchased the database and used it to market his goods and services with commercial emails, receiving over 400 complaints as a result. The Department’s anti-spam compliance unit also received a flurry of complaints.
The Department alleges in the statement of claim that the purchaser of the IMG database received assurances that it complied with the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007 and that the holders of the email addresses contained in the database had consented to receiving commercial electronic messages. The purchaser was also informed that, provided any commercial electronic messages sent to the email addresses in the database contained an unsubscribe facility, they would comply with the Act.
Senior Investigator, Mr Toni Demetriou, says the sale of databases in New Zealand by Image Marketing Group continues to cause problems for purchasers who use them to send commercial electronic messages. The Department warned in June 2010 against purchasing databases and are still investigating businesses that bought and used IMG databases.
“Some of the businesses we have investigated have been fined for breaching the Act,” Mr Demetriou said. “There is a misconception and a misrepresentation made that, under the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act, an individual or organisation can send business-to-business commercial electronic messages. This is not so. You need to have appropriate consent before sending any commercial electronic messages, and, if deemed consent is being relied upon, then the messages that are sent must be relevant to the business, role, functions or duties of the recipient in a business or official capacity.”
In its latest High Court action the Department is seeking penalties of $500,000 against the company Image Marketing Group and $200,000 against Brendan Battles the company director. The Department has also applied to the High Court for an injunction under Section 42 of the Act prohibiting Brendan Battles from sending commercial electronic messages ending with “.nz” without obtaining prior consent and also from selling in New Zealand databases with electronic addresses, the holders of which have not consented to receiving commercial electronic messages.