Australia gets tough on spammers

Australia gets tough on spammers

By Stuart Finlayson

The Australian parliament has moved a step closer to introducing tough new laws on distributing spam, following a successful meeting between senior industry figures and representatives from the main political parties in Canberra.

There was broad cross-party agreement on the legislation that should be put in place to discourage the sending of spam in Australia. The government is expected to pass new laws concerning spam before the end of the year.

Measures likely to be introduced in the new legislation include criminalising the harvesting of email addresses and the sale and distribution of harvested lists.

Peter Coroneos, chief executive of the Internet Industry Association, which has been at the forefront of the campaign against spam in Australia, says "These lists are clearly obtained without the consent of the end user and there can be no question of consent when you are using technology to take email addresses of the Net without the knowledge of the intended recipient."

Additionally, there was broad support for criminal sanctions in cases where there is fraudulent header or 'reply to' information inserted into emails to disguise their origin, as well as the introduction of criminal charges for those found guilty of including malicious code in emails.

Coroneos said he was confident that the government would meet its timetable for getting the new laws on the statute book by the end of the year, such is the level of support and awareness that this problem must be addressed now.

"Legislation in Australia alone is not going to solve the problem, but it does send a signal to Australian businesses as to what constitutes acceptable conduct, and also having strong domestic legislation will help facilitate our efforts internationally to have the problem dealt with, as it's much harder to influence what happens elsewhere if we don't have our own house in order."

The IIA has also just launched an online survey on the issue, which has been sent out to its members. It asks a number of questions relating to spam, such as whether the respondent's level of spam received has increased, decreased or stayed the same in the last six months, what level of control should be placed on businesses who want to send you spam, and what sort of penalty should be applied to those guilty of sending spam.

Businesses wishing to take part in the survey can do so by visiting

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Spam war transcends political divide