New Zealand finally has anti-spam law

, posted: 28-Feb-2007 09:15

Years after the rest of the OECD outlawed spamming, New Zealand has at last done the same: from September 1, 2007, Kiwi spammers face fines of up to $200,000 for individuals and $500,000 for organisations.

Having a law against spamming is definitely a good thing. Without an anti-spam law, there was a risk of New Zealand becoming a haven for spammers. In fact, the NZ-based spammers I've interviewed have all used the "I'm not doing anything that's illegal here" excuse when asked about their activities. Well, now it is.

I notice that some commentators make much out of the fact that the new law won't stop spam. That's a Captain Obvious statement, given that most spam emanates from overseas and is generated by criminals who know they're breaking the law and don't care. The point of the new law is to make spamming illegal and to prevent spammers from setting up in NZ.

It's disappointing to see that the two MPs for ACT voted against the law, clearly as yet another contrarian publicity stunt. Those who voted for Hide ought to bail him up on the way he represents his electorate in Parliament, because this sort of token clowning isn't helpful for anyone.

What remains to be seen is how effective the enforcement mechanisms will be. The New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) will be the "cops" and may need more resources to handle enforcement. Businesses sending out emails will need to study the new law to make sure they're compliant with it; clear guidelines are required here, and I hope the government publishes some soon. The key principle is that people must opt in to receive promotional emails, so organisations must keep proof of that.

There's also the issue that Microsoft brought up, being able to go after spammers for civil damages as well. Microsoft seems to have had success in the US suing spammers, but I'm not sure if that strategy would work in NZ; the US has a different legal tradition when it comes to law suits.

More information

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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