Anti-spam law passed

At around 9 pm last night Parliament passed (only ACT voting against) the third and final reading of the anti-spam law. I’ve been working on this issue, and having a workable law, since around 2003 along with David Harris (of Pegasus Mail fame) and others in InternetNZ. So great to see it finally passed, with a big ups to David Cunliffe who reversed the previous Government position not to support legislation.

The official release from InternetNZ is not yet online, so is over the break.

I should stress that no-one who supports this thinks that it will magically stop spam. If only it was so easy. Every anti-spam group around will say that you need a combination of education, technological measures, self-regulation, legislation and international co-operation. None of these by itself stops spam, but together they help mitigate it.

The legislation will have three direct benefits:

1) It will allow those NZers involved in spamming to be prosecuted. Because our ISPs are all intolerant of spammers, little or no spam is directly sent from NZ, but a number of NZers are involved in the spam industry and use overseas parties to do the sending for them.

2) It allows the Govt enforcement agency to monitor where spam is coming from and for domestic sources take direction action, and for overseas sources work with overseas counterparts to target the worst offenders. This international co-operation has led to prosecutions and some of the worst US spammers have gone out of business. And if we don’t have a on the books making spam illegal, we can’t have our government working with others to target spammers.

3) It removes the incentives for spammers to move to NZ, as almost the last remaining OECD country to have an anti-spam law.

The doesn’t take effect for six months, so I expect there will be an education campaign for consumers and businesses on how the law will work, and how to make sure what you do isn’t spam.

InternetNZ welcomes long awaited anti-spam

Media release
28 February 2007

InternetNZ (The Society of New Zealand) welcomes the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007, which passed its third reading last night. The Act will come into effect six months after royal assent, expected to be 1 September 2007.

“We thank MPs, particularly Communications and IT Minister David Cunliffe and members of the Commerce Select Committee for seeing through the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Bill, which helps fight Spam both in email and other forms.” says InternetNZ Vice-President David Farrar,

The will give the enforcement agency, within the Department of Internal Affairs, the power to tackle spammers located in New Zealand.
New Zealand is one of the last OECD countries to have an anti-spam and can now play its part properly as a global citizen in the fight against spam. It also allows the enforcement agency to work with international counterparts to help close down and prosecute the worst global spammers.

InternetNZ executive director Keith Davidson says spam is a serious cost to both business and consumers. “It clogs up inboxes, wastes time and resources, and is a vector for scams and malicious software.”

“This will not stop spam. If only it was so easy! But it will play a useful role in ensuring NZ based spam is minimised, and that spammers don’t migrate to New Zealand.” said David Farrar.

InternetNZ would like to acknowledge the work of David Harris, ex-InternetNZ councilor, who worked tirelessly to promote the need for legislation for New Zealand and took a lead role in anti-spam education.

The six month period before the Act becomes active will give businesses time to understand precisely what spam is and ensure their electronic marketing abides by the new rules. InternetNZ will be working with the Government, business groups and ISPs to facilitate understanding of the law.

InternetNZ has refreshed the anti-spam website stopspam.org.nz, which provides a central resource for consumers about spam and how to deal with it.

InternetNZ, in conjunction with the Telecommunications Carriers’ Forum, the Marketing Association and the ISP Association (ISPANZ), is also finalising the ISP Spam Code of Practice, which will outline ISP obligations and spam complaint handling procedures. This Code is about to be released for public consultation, timed to come into play at the same time as the Act.

For more information contact:
Keith Davidson,
Executive Director, InternetNZ
021 377 587
keith@internetnz.net.nz

David Farrar
Vice-President, InternetNZ
021 940 045 or 027 447 0216
Email: david@farrar.com

ENDS
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Highlights of the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act

* Unsolicited commercial messages will be banned, using terms and definitions in line with Australian regulations. This includes messages that use a web link to hide the content. There are sensible exceptions to the definition of spam in the Act, such as the sending of warranty and recall information.

* The Act creates an opt-in permissions environment, so you can only be sent commercial messages if you have explicitly agreed to accept them.
All commercial messages must include zero-cost unsubscribe facilities that must be acted upon within five days.

* The Act provides significant penalties and the enforcement agency (Department of Internal Affairs) will have strong powers for combating spam, including search and seizure provisions.

* Service Providers will not be required by the legislation to take complaints and act on them themselves. (The industry code will cover the ISP obligations and how ISPs will work in with the DIA).

* The DIA will provide an email address for reporting of spam. The DIA will also monitor, and provide an address for the reporting of sexually-related spam that, even if neither objectionable nor commercial, could entice people towards viewing sexual content.

——————————————————
Questions and Answers for consumers

* I know the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act covers email, but what else?
The Act also applies to other electronic forms of communication such as instant messaging and texting but not telephone calls or facsimilies.

* Will the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act stop spam?
No, it primarily targets New Zealand-related spam, raises awareness of the issue, and assists in the global fight, but a coordinated global effort or perhaps further technological development will be required to bring it to heel.

* Does the relate to my personal emails?
No, the Act is about unsolicited commercial messages.

* Will it be illegal to e-mail someone you have never met?
Not necessarily. The Act allows for commercial email where consent has been given. This can either be express consent or that “can reasonably be inferred” according to certain business situations explained in the Act.

* Will I be in trouble if virus or trojan software takes over my computer and spams people?
While you will have to prove it wasn’t you, you will have a defence if it was malicous software or someone else was at fault. It is best to have in place anti-virus and anti-spyware software.

* How can I help stop spam?
Do not respond to unsolicited marketing messages. Spammers only need a very small percentage response to regard it as worthwhile to spam thousands more. Limit the publishing of your email address, particularly online. Ensure you have spam filtering software or anti spam filtering service from your ISP or third party provider. Read stopspam.org.nz for further actions you can take.

* How do I stop a New Zealand company sending me messages?
Under the new law, all commercial messages with a New Zealand connection will require the inclusion of an unsubscribe facility at no cost to you.
However, it is recommended not to reply to internationally sourced messages as our laws cannot be used against those spammers.

* Who should I complain to about spam?
The enforcement agency, the Department of Internal Affairs, will have an email address you will be able to forward spam to. ISPs are also able to deal with reports from their customers and provide advice.

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