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ACM imposes fine for violation of the spam prohibition

The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has fined online-marketing firm Daisycon B.V. for its involvement in large-scale spam operations. Daisycon, as an affiliate network, was involved in the dispatch of over two billion unsolicited commercial emails, with regard to which it could not be established that their recipients had given their consent to receiving them. In addition, these recipients were unable to unsubscribe from said commercial emails effectively. Daisycon played a central role in the dispatch of these spam messages. Daisycon is thus imposed a fine of EUR 810,000 for violation of the spam prohibition.

Anita Vegter, Member of the Board of ACM, explains: “With this fining decision, we are sending out a clear signal, which is that advertisers, publishers and affiliate networks each have their own responsibility when it comes to compliance with the spam regulations. Spam is prohibited because it harms consumer confidence in electronic communication, it causes annoyance, and it leads to unnecessary costs. That is why we take action against spam.” In addition to Daisycon B.V., ACM also holds two executives responsible for part of the violation.

Background

In the past, ACM has imposed fines on publishers and advertisers for violation of the spam prohibition. ACM has now also fined an affiliate network. In a previous, different investigation into spam, ACM had come across Daisycon’s role, and subsequently launched this investigation based on those previous findings. An affiliate network acts as the link between, on the one hand, advertisers, who wish to distribute promotional material, and, on the other hand, publishers, who possess address databases, and who take care of the actual dispatch of the messages. Thanks to the affiliate network, they are able to find each other, thus making it possible for the promotional materials of advertisers to be distributed quickly among a large group of consumers. Ten to fifteen of such affiliate networks are active in the Netherlands. Besides the advertisers and publishers, affiliate networks, too, can be held responsible for properly obtaining consent for sending unsolicited commercial emails. ACM will also contact other affiliate networks, reminding them of this responsibility.

Through various sources, including the website www.spamklacht.nl, ACM has received many complaints from consumers who had been sent commercial messages for which they had not given any permission, and from which they were not really able to unsubscribe. It is often not clear to consumers how they ended up in these address databases or why they receive these messages. Furthermore, consumers find it annoying that they continue to receive similar emails despite having unsubscribed from them. In this particular case, the email addresses were collected through online surveys with names such as the ‘National Deal Survey’ and ‘National Consumer Survey.’

Daisycon has filed an objection against this decision.