Wednesday, February 28, 2007

No Spam Spam Spam Spam

New Zealand is the latest country to ban spam, which in this case means unsolicited email and text messages.

The Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act, passed last night, bans unwanted messages and requires senders of commercial messages to include accurate sender information and an unsubscribe option, neither of which seems unreasonable.

The right wing Act Party claimed the Act will accomplish nothing to end spam and it will place a burden on business (somehow). Its two MPs were the only two to vote against it.

The not-quite-as right wing National Party voted in favour of it, but said it would achieve very little.

As usual, the Opposition is missing the point.

By outlawing spam, there are now laws to go after anyone who sets up a spam operation in this country. As more counties outlaw spam, more spammers will attempt to operate from countries without such laws.

David Cunliffe, Communications Minister, said:

This law is another important step towards greater internet security. It will clamp down on spam of a domestic origin and provide a platform for seeking an international agreement to fight spam world-wide.

At the moment, 80-95 percent of all email is spam. Clearly something needs to change.

Someday, maybe, there’ll be a way to stamp out this plague once and for all. Until then, we have to do what we can country by country.


peteremcc said...

Because banning things makes them go away doesn't it?

Even if every country in the world suddenly makes spam illegal it isn't just going to go away.

ACT's objection wasn't because they support spam it was because the law was badly written and imposed all sorts of restrictions and costs on legitimate businesses.

Arthur Schenck said...

You're right, banning things doesn't necessarily make them go away; it would be great if it was that easy.

However, as I said in the post, the real point is to prevent spammers coming to NZ to set up shop (as at least one American spammer had attempted to do). There had been little in NZ law to prevent that from happening, and now there is.

I certainly never said that Act supported spam, just that they were missing the point.

The argument that it somehow places undue burden on legitimate business is a slippery one: "Legitimate" in whose eyes? Overall, the rules are not difficult for a company that has normal, standard electronic communications policies--except if they send out mass unsolicited emails (aka spam). If they want to do that, then they ought to take some responsibility to protect people who don't want their bandwith eaten by junk mail. I don't consider it too big a price to pay. But I doubt that this law will affect many New Zealand companies.

Nevertheless, I recognise that not everyone agrees with me on this (or other things, for that matter), and I welcome debate. Thank you for contributing to that debate.