Dutch telecommunications regulator OPTA has levied the largest fine against an unidentified spammer whom authorities say e-mailed more than 9 billion unwanted advertisements. The Netherlands outlawed spam in May 2004. The man is being charged $97,000 for sending "unsolicited electronic messages to consumers to promote erection enhancement pills, pornographic Web sites, sex products and such," according to Friday's statement. OPTA said it considered several factors, including the sheer volume of the messages, saying the 9 billion was a "minimum" estimate.
OPTA said Microsoft Corp. had helped in its investigation by gathering evidence against the perpetrator who earned at least $52,000 from sending the spam in the year before he was caught on Nov. 1, 2005. The spammer had argued in his defense that he had already stopped sending spam by the time he was caught, "not because he realized that what he was doing was a violation of the law, but because he simply wasn't earning enough money by sending the messages".