Spammers hit by government fines

Sending unsolicited emails in an attempt to encourage Web users to sign up for products and services proved a bad move for six Far Eastern companies

Six Web sites, including Internet portal, have been fined for bombarding Internet users with spam emails, according to reports.

South Korea's Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC) announced on Monday that penalties of between 4m Korean won (£2,176) and 5m Korean won (£2,721) are being imposed on the six companies.

According to the MIC, all six are guilty of sending large amounts of unsolicited emails to Web users, despite receiving complaints about the practice. The Korea Times has reported that has has been fined 4m won for sending spam plugging the products and services available from its site.

The Korean government began a clampdown on spammers at the start of 2002.

New rules announced in January mean that Korean companies which send unsolicited email must clearly identify the content of the message in its subject line, and must also include their contact details in the email so that recipients can demand not to be included in future mailings.

Anyone who falsifies their contact details, or continues to send spam to users who have complained, faces a fine of up to 5m won.

Earlier this month the Korean MIC set up an online anti-spam "hotline". Web site includes tips on how to set up email filters and free downloadable anti-spam software.

This hotline was launched in response to a rising tide of complaints from Korea's Web users that they were being flooded with unsolicited emails.

According to the Korea Information Security Agency (KISA), 11,621 user complaints involving spam mail were received in the first five months of this year, compared to 2,827 in the whole of in 2001.

KISA calculated that at the end of last year the average Korean email user was receiving 32 spam emails per week.

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