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InternetNZ welcomes long awaited anti-spam law

Media release, 28 February 2007: InternetNZ (The Internet Society of New Zealand) welcomes the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007, which passed its third reading last night. The Act will come into effect six months after royal assent, expected to be 1 September 2007.

“We thank MPs, particularly Communications and IT Minister David Cunliffe and members of the Commerce Select Committee for seeing through the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Bill, which helps fight Spam both in email and other forms.” says InternetNZ Vice-President David Farrar,
The law will give the enforcement agency, within the Department of Internal Affairs, the power to tackle spammers located in New Zealand. New Zealand is one of the last OECD countries to have an anti-spam law and can now play its part properly as a global citizen in the fight against spam. It also allows the enforcement agency to work with international counterparts to help close down and prosecute the worst global spammers.
InternetNZ executive director Keith Davidson says spam is a serious cost to both business and consumers. “It clogs up inboxes, wastes time and resources, and is a vector for scams and malicious software.”
“This law will not stop spam. If only it was so easy! But it will play a useful role in ensuring NZ based spam is minimised, and that spammers don’t migrate to New Zealand.” said David Farrar.
InternetNZ would like to acknowledge the work of David Harris, ex-InternetNZ councilor, who worked tirelessly to promote the need for legislation for New Zealand and took a lead role in anti-spam education.
The six month period before the Act becomes active will give businesses time to understand precisely what spam is and ensure their electronic marketing abides by the new rules. InternetNZ will be working with the Government, business groups and ISPs to facilitate understanding of the law.
InternetNZ has refreshed the anti-spam website, which provides a central resource for consumers about spam and how to deal with it.
InternetNZ, in conjunction with the Telecommunications Carriers' Forum, the Marketing Association and the ISP Association (ISPANZ), is also finalising the ISP Spam Code of Practice, which will outline ISP obligations and spam complaint handling procedures. This Code is about to be released for public consultation, timed to come into play at the same time as the Act.
For more information contact: Keith Davidson, Executive Director, InternetNZ 021 377 587
David FarrarVice-President, InternetNZ021 940 045 or 027 447 0216Email:
ENDS-----------------------------------------------------Highlights of the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act
* Unsolicited commercial messages will be banned, using terms and definitions in line with Australian regulations. This includes messages that use a web link to hide the content. There are sensible exceptions to the definition of spam in the Act, such as the sending of warranty and recall information.
* The Act creates an opt-in permissions environment, so you can only be sent commercial messages if you have explicitly agreed to accept them. All commercial messages must include zero-cost unsubscribe facilities that must be acted upon within five days.
* The Act provides significant penalties and the enforcement agency (Department of Internal Affairs) will have strong powers for combating spam, including search and seizure provisions.
* Internet Service Providers will not be required by the legislation to take complaints and act on them themselves. (The industry code will cover the ISP obligations and how ISPs will work in with the DIA).
* The DIA will provide an email address for reporting of spam. The DIA will also monitor, and provide an address for the reporting of sexually-related spam that, even if neither objectionable nor commercial, could entice people towards viewing sexual content.
------------------------------------------------------Questions and Answers for consumers
* I know the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act covers email, but what else?
The Act also applies to other electronic forms of communication such as instant messaging and texting but not telephone calls or facsimilies.
* Will the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act stop spam?
No, it primarily targets New Zealand-related spam, raises awareness of the issue, and assists in the global fight, but a coordinated global effort or perhaps further technological development will be required to bring it to heel.
* Does the law relate to my personal emails?
No, the Act is about unsolicited commercial messages.
* Will it be illegal to e-mail someone you have never met?
Not necessarily. The Act allows for commercial email where consent has been given. This can either be express consent or that "can reasonably be inferred" according to certain business situations explained in the Act.
* Will I be in trouble if virus or trojan software takes over my computer and spams people?
While you will have to prove it wasn't you, you will have a defence if it was malicous software or someone else was at fault.  It is best to have in place anti-virus and anti-spyware software.
* How can I help stop spam?
Do not respond to unsolicited marketing messages. Spammers only need a very small percentage response to regard it as worthwhile to spam thousands more. Limit the publishing of your email address, particularly online. Ensure you have spam filtering software or anti spam filtering service from your ISP or third party provider. Read for further actions you can take.
* How do I stop a New Zealand company sending me messages?
Under the new law, all commercial messages with a New Zealand connection will require the inclusion of an unsubscribe facility at no cost to you. However, it is recommended not to reply to internationally sourced messages as our laws cannot be used against those spammers.
* Who should I complain to about spam?
The enforcement agency, the Department of Internal Affairs, will have an email address you will be able to forward spam to. ISPs are also able to deal with reports from their customers and provide advice.

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