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Bounty out on spammers

By   |  February 21, 2007

Spammers beware! Thanks to a newly launched programme by the Internet Society of South Africa (ISOC-ZA), there is a bounty sitting on the heads of all spammers. The Spam Bounty Hunter Programme aims at providing information on spam, how to deal with it, when to report it and how to manage the criminal case and investigation in order to receive a bounty or reward for the successful conviction of a spammer.

As an incentive, a bounty of R7 500 for an admission of guilt fine, R15 000 for a conviction in the magistrates court and R30 000 for a conviction in the high court, will be rewarded to any member of the public that successfully convicts a spammer.

Through the Spam Bounty Hunter initiative, ISOC will provide Internet users with information on how to catch a local spammer. The initiative is focused on educating individuals on issues such as reporting spammers, getting a spammer to court and how to manage the criminal case and investigations.

Local ISPs have reported that spam makes up more than 70% of all monitored email traffic. This has increased by well over 20% in the past 6 months. Spam has evolved and new security risks have emerged whereby writers of viruses and spammers are merging their expertise to produce a more sophisticated strain of email threat.

Established in 1997, ISOC-ZA is a civil society organisation with the goal of developing the Internet society in South Africa. According to Alan Levin, chairman of ISOC, public policy is an area where the organisation has had the most activity and has directly driven and participated in the current legislation on spam.

“Whilst we were hoping for stronger regulations we understand that at the time of creation the legislation on spam was a good starting point. Now, more than four years later, we have identified an opportunity to improve outcomes and reduce spam originating from SA,” said Levin.

One of the weaknesses in the current system is that it depends on recipients to act on the spam they receive. Part of the problem is that both Internet users and the police are generally unaware of the laws and regulations that govern spam. As a result, the industry is seeing an increase in SA-based spam.

“It is important for South African’s to perform their civic duty to further develop the country’s potential. Everyone needs to play a role in combating crime and this initiative will provide consumers with the knowledge and platform to do so,­ not to mention keeping spammers at bay,” added Levin

Consumers will need to register as a member of the ISOC community at and head to to access the information on identifying spam and collecting evidence. Once evidence is obtained, it needs to be taken to the police, who will need to consult with the Cybercrime unit to ensure that the case reaches the courts and a penalty is enforced to win a reward.

“Through this initiative, individuals and the SA Internet community will be empowered to join the fight against spam and we believe that they will receive the greatest benefits in terms of reduced local spam – through both mechanisms of better education of the topic as well as better enforceability of the law,” concluded Levin.


One Response to “Bounty out on spammers”

  1. cppgenius
    February 23rd, 2007 @ 12:00 am

    It is good to see that the South African Internet Community is taking a stand against spam. Spam is constantly on the rise and without the support of the community and authorities we will not be able to deal with this epidemic.

    Lets just hope that this initiative does not lose focus like most of the initiatives in the past did. For instance the SAPS being so passionate against 419 scams. But over time they lost focus and stopped apprehending these criminals. Cyber crime is often left in the hands of the community to deal with it, we need more involvement from local law enforcement agencies.

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