Lobby rejects anti-spam laws

, posted: 15-Jun-2004 23:29

The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) has come out against anti-spam legislation. DMA head Keith Norris says it is not needed and it may have "potentially sinister side-effects" for direct marketing and telemarketing.

"I'm concerned about spam legislation full stop," said Norris, who claims that overseas legislation such as the US  Can-Spam Act "hasn't done a darn thing to reduce unsolicited commercial email".

Norris said 80 per cent of spam came from the US and the DMA believed New Zealand laws would have no effect on the global spam problem. "We have an effective self-regulatory regime," he said.

Speaking from Britain, Richard Cox, of the volunteer anti-spam organisation The Spamhaus Project, said Norris was mistaken, and legislation was needed, if only to protect the status quo.

"Various spammers have already tried to sue internet providers for blocking traffic and [ISPs] need the protection of legislation." Cox said the Australian anti-spam law was very well written and was being enforced with determination. This was "exactly what New Zealand needs as well".

The Government has announced it will introduce anti-spam legislation in New Zealand by the end of the year and Associate Information Technology Minister David Cunliffe said it was one of his top priorities. "We've put out a discussion document on spam and we hope to see bipartisan support in Parliament for it," he said.

The Herald also asked the DMA what it thought of the .mail domain proposed by The Spamhaus Project. The DMA's US counterpart has claimed that through .mail, Spamhaus in Britain will be "in charge of a large slice of US commercial email".

Norris said he was "inclined to agree" with comments on .mail.

Spamhaus states that .mail specifically bans the sending of unsolicited bulk email or spam, and that Spamhaus itself will not be in charge of the domain. Instead, a non-profit organisation called the Anti-Spam Community Registry will handle .mail.

"I've always thought the DMA should take a stronger line on 'best practice'," Norris said. "Then, maybe the bureaucrats wouldn't have been so ready to jump in with legislation." One local business threatened by the Government's anti-spam proposals is Steve Baron's Fax-Ads. With 15,000 recipients in Auckland and 5000 each in Wellington and Christchurch, Baron's company sends out "three to four faxes a week per recipient".

But Baron said he had "no problem with the Government bringing in legislation" to curb junk faxing. He claimed that his company clearly identified itself and gave recipients ways to opt out of receiving faxes. Baron, who admits to having been disconnected by internet providers for spamming, said he did oppose "too stringent" regulations for contacting potential customers via email and fax.

The spam debate
* New Zealand is looking at introducing laws against spamming after the US, Europe and Australia introduced them.
* Under discussion are proposals that would outlaw unsolicited bulk marketing in any form - email, fax,
telemarketing, text messages - unless people have explicitly agreed to receive it (so-called opt-in).
* Direct marketers fear the proposals will deprive them of their business.

Other related posts:
Video: Kim Dotcom and Mathias Ortman at the IITP Mega breakfast
Two-factor authentication broken
The problem with naming and shaming

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