Wellington: The New Zealand government passed a law banning uninvited commercial messages sent by e-mail, phone and instant text messaging services.
The law, passed on 27 February, compels senders of commercial messages in New Zealand to include information about themselves, as well as an “unsubscribe” facility in all messages, Minister for Information Technology David Cunliffe said in an e-mailed statement.
Unsolicited electronic messages sent by computer, mobile phone or other electronic devices grew by 40% to 35.5 billion worldwide in 2004, US research group Radicati Group said. Unwanted traffic makes up around 80% of all e-mail worldwide. Spam, often sent to lists of random e-mail addresses, can clog networks and is used as a vehicle for money scams and the transferal of computer viruses.
“It is important that New Zealand is not seen as a soft touch or safe haven for spammers,” Cunliffe said. “This law is another important step toward greater internet security.”
The Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007, approved by the parliament, enables the nation to enter into international anti-spam agreements, he said. It will take effect in six months to allow businesses to comply with its requirements.
New Zealand joins the US, the European Union and 11 other countries, including its largest trading partner, Australia, in passing legislation to combat spam. It is a signatory, along with 27 other countries, to the October 2004 London Action Plan on International Spam Enforcement Cooperation.
The new law “allows the enforcement agency to work with international counterparts to help close down and prosecute the worst global spammers”, David Farrar, Vice-President of lobby group InternetNZ said.
It will ensure “that spammers don’t migrate to New Zealand”, he said.
The legislation also prohibits the use of so-called address harvesting software or harvested address lists. It applies to all e-mails, mobile phone text messages and instant messages used to promote goods and services.