Spammers face big fines

Spammers will face big fines under new legislation because the only way to beat them is to make the business uneconomic, Information Technology Minister David Cunliffe said today.

Mr Cunliffe yesterday announced the Government's proposed law to deal with spamming, which will make it illegal to send multiple marketing messages -- emails, text messages and instant messages -- to anyone who has not asked for them.

Organisations that send spam could be fined up to half a million dollars, and individuals up to $200,000.

"A spammer will send out hundreds of thousands, sometimes millions of messages," Mr Cunliffe said today.

"Perhaps one tenth of 1 per cent will be responded to, but that's enough to make it profitable because it costs almost nothing to send them.

"The law has to have a sanction strong enough to make the business uneconomic."

Mr Cunliffe said there were two anti-spam methods being used in other countries.

Under the 'opt-out' model, it was legitimate to send marketing messages unless someone objected to receiving them.

Under the 'opt-in' model, the messages have to be asked for.

Mr Cunliffe said the Government had decided to adopt 'opt-in', which was used in European Union countries and Australia.

"Two thirds of peoples' email is spam and there's a feeling out there that we should do something about it," he said on National Radio.

"No one is pretending legislation is or should be the only part. It has to be a package, there have to be sanctions to back up filters and firewalls."

Mr Cunliffe said he expected there would be broad support in Parliament for the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Bill, which has not yet been introduced.

- NZPA

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