A law to tackle spam emails was passed last night, but critics say it will do little to combat the millions of unwanted messages sent into inboxes each year.
The Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act bans unwanted emails and texts and requires senders of commercial messages to include accurate sender information and an unsubscribe option.
It also bans porn spam, which provides links to pornographic websites.
Anyone caught breaching the new law face a tough regime of fines.
But critics have said it will do little to stem the flow of spam -- most of which comes from offshore.
Act leader Rodney Hide said the law was well meaning, but would place extra costs on small businesses wishing to market their services. Act's two MPs were the only ones to vote against it.
Mr Hide said the law would also fail to stop spam, which could be better combatted through filtering mail.
National MP Chris Auchinvole said although his party supported the legislation as part of international efforts to tackle spam, it would achieve very little in the near future.
He said: "It's more virtual than real and in reality it does virtually nothing."
But Communications Minister David Cunliffe said the law would contribute to an international crackdown on spam and prevent New Zealand becoming a haven for spammers.
It was important New Zealand was not seen as a soft touch, he 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."
Up to 80 per cent of email traffic was spam, he said.
Green Party MP Nandor Tanczos said the law was useful contribution to international efforts to tackle spam.
It would also be help crack down on the small amount of locally generated spam as well as help collect information on the problem.
- NZPABy Grant Fleming