The Danish Supreme Court Reduces Significant Anti-Spam Fine

27. September 2005

On 22 September 2005 the Danish Supreme Court reduced the DKK 2,000,000 spam fine which Debitel, a Danish telecom service supplier, received earlier this year in the Maritime and Commercial Court for disseminating approximately 48,000 unsolicited commercial messages via SMS text messages and email.

The judgment also took into consideration that Debitel had discredited other suppliers and their enterprises.

The fine, reduced from DKK 2,000,000 to DKK 400,000 (€ 55,000), took the Danish Consumer Ombudsman, Hagen Joergensen by surprise: “I am shocked and disappointed with the reduction of the fine. However, there is only left for me to accept the outcome and the fact that the spam problem will be all the more difficult to tackle under the Danish Marketing Practises Act in the future.”

The legal proceedings were instituted in the spring of 2003, following Debitel’s bulk distribution of unsolicited emails and SMS text messages. The marketing campaign was occasioned by a merger in the business between two competitors. The commercial messages also included improper statements which discredited these competitors.

On meting out the sentence the Supreme Court stressed the number of unsolicited commercial messages and the concept itself. Further, the Court made a point of the fact that the wronged suppliers themselves had not raised any claims in connection with the discrediting statements. Finally, the Court did not consider the statements to be of a very libellous nature.

Section 6a of the Danish Marketing Practises Act makes it an offence to distribute marketing material by means of electronic mail, automated call systems or fax without prior consent. Moreover, sections 2(2) and 2a of the above Act prohibit improper or defamatory indications or statements about other traders or consumers.

Want to report spam to the DCO?

In order to keep evidence for further investigation, the DCO has set up two electronic spam mailboxes. Cross-border spam can be forwarded to int@spamklage.dk   whereas Danish spam should be sent to dansk@spamklage.dk

The DCO spam guideline discusses the legal and illegal aspects of commercial communications distributed electronically.

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