The Department of Internal Affairs

The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua

Building a safe, prosperous and respected nation

 

Anti-spam raid in Christchurch


19/12/2007

The Department of Internal Affairs has seized 22 computers and boxes of documents from four Christchurch addresses as it investigates an international spamming operation.

The Department’s recently-established anti-spam unit is checking claims that a Christchurch business organised affiliates around the world to send spam on its behalf offering pharmaceutical products and watches.

A team from across the Department executed four search warrants simultaneously and two businessmen have been interviewed by the anti-spam investigators.

Internal Affairs Deputy Secretary, Keith Manch, said the Anti-Spam Unit had been working with international agencies for two months gathering evidence on the spamming operation, when a BBC news report alerted the business to the investigation.

“We had to move quickly to capture evidence supporting the spamming allegations, obtaining search warrants and mobilising search teams,” Keith Manch said. “We will now assess the information obtained from the computers, documents and interviews before deciding what action will follow.”

Background

New Zealand’s anti-spam law, the ‘Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007, took effect on 5 September 2007. It defines spam as ‘unsolicited, commercial, electronic messages’, and sets out the rules for sending commercial electronic messages legitimately.

The Anti-Spam Unit in the Department investigates complaints and will act against spammers in New Zealand who are deliberately flouting the law.

The penalties for breaching the UEM Act range from formal warnings to infringement notices and court actions (with a maximum fine of $500,000 for an organisation or $200,000 for an individual). A ‘spammer’ could also be ordered to pay the victims compensation up to the amount of loss suffered and/or damages up to the amount of profit that was made as a result of sending the spam.


Media Contact:

Keith Manch, Deputy Secretary, Department of Internal Affairs
Ph 04 495 9329; cell 021 227 6363

Trevor Henry, communications adviser, Department of Internal Affairs
Ph 04 495 7211; cell 0275 843 679