New Zealand's anti-spam legislation kicks in – exclusive report
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
Freelance journalist, Gabriel Pollard, spoke to Joe Stewart and David Farrar about the new anti-spam legislation in New Zealand that comes into effect today. Joe Stewart is the Unit Manager of the Department of Internal Affairs new Anti-Spam Compliance Unit, and David Farrar is Chair of InternetNZ’s Public Policy Committee, who also had significant input into the final bill.
Keith Norris, CEO of the New Zealand Marketing Association, didn't respond to multiple requests for an interview.
The anti-spam legislation, or the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007, promotes spam education and awareness and will enable international agencies to work together to share information and will enable cross-border pursuit of serious law breakers. And it doesn't just cover e-mail spam, but all electronic messaging such as SMS/text messaging, etc.
However, New Zealand isn't the most up-to-date country with implementing similar legislation, Farrar says, “We are in fact almost the last country in the OECD to have such legislation.” He urges Eastern Europe and China to take part in the fight against spam.
Stewart said that the new law would only help combat a small amount of spam, as 99%-99.9% of all spam received originates from overseas. He says the legislation alone will not solve the problem.
As well as it helping to fight New Zealand-sourced spam and preventing New Zealand from “becoming a haven for spammers”, it will promote good practices within the e-marketing community, Stewart said.
The new Act will affect legitimate marketers in New Zealand by making sure they have expressed or inferred consent to continue sending marketing messages to people on their database. Inferred consent is where the marketers have the e-mail address and send messages to those on their database, but didn't get expressed consent to send messages. Stewart does issue a warning against using inferred consent saying, “They may have been sending these people messages for years, but this does not establish consent.”
A surge in emails has also been felt with companies/marketers making sure they have consent to continue the e-mails and asking those to confirm they wish to continue their subscription.
“However, many marketers are already fulfilling these requirements because they are standard good e-marketing practice,” Stewart said.
Due to legislative requirements, as well as having consent, businesses will have to provide details about the company sending the item, and provide a free way to unsubscribe from future mailings.
Those found breaking these requirements deliberately could find themselves facing a personal fine of up to NZ$200,000. Organisations could face a fine of up to $500,000. Farrar said, “Experience from Australia shows most cases are dealt with by way of education.”
Farrar also gives a final piece of advice to those annoyed with spam levels, “Never ever respond to a spam e-mail, and only give your real address out to people you trust.”