Adult Web site Cyberheat will pay $413,000 to settle an FTC complaint involving explicit e-mail from its affiliates.
Grant Gross, IDG News Service
An adult Web site whose affiliates sent pornography-related spam to unsuspecting recipients will pay US$413,000 to settle a complaint from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.
Under the settlement, Cyberheat is prohibited from spam e-mail marketing and is required to monitor its affiliates to ensure they are complying with the law, the FTC said.
Cyberheat, in Tucson, Arizona, is the sixth company that has settled FTC complaints about porn spam since 2005. A complaint against a seventh company is pending. The six companies that have settled the 2005 complaints have agreed to pay more than $1.6 million in civil penalties.
The FTC had accused the companies of exposing children and others to sexual images. The spam e-mail was the equivalent of "electronic flashing," the FTC said.
The FTC alleged that Cyberheat violated the agency's FTC's Adult Labeling Rule and the Can-Spam Act, which require commercial e-mailers of sexually explicit material to use the phrase "sexually explicit" in subject lines. The rule and law also require that e-mail senders ensure that the initially viewable area of the e-mail does not contain graphic sexual images.
Cyberheat's affiliate markets also did not provide adequate opt-out mechanisms in their e-mail and did not provide a postal address for the company, the FTC said. Can-Spam requires both.
FTC filed the complaint against Cyberheat and the settlement in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona.
Cyberheat did not send e-mail directly to consumers, but the company operated an affiliate marketing program, in which it paid others who sent spam on the company's behalf, the FTC said. Under Can-Spam, the company is liable for the illegal spam sent by its affiliates because the defendant induced them to send it by offering to pay those who successfully attracted subscriber to its Web sites, the FTC alleged.
A Cyberheat spokeswoman wasn't immediately available for comment.