Mon, Dec 22, 2003 - Page 4 News List

Group urges authorities to get tough on spam


Taiwanese authorities were urged yesterday to accelerate the enactment of anti-spam legislation to reduce its negative effects on productivity, ward off privacy infringements and alleviate the other social problems attributed to unsolicited e-mail.

Huang Ching-ning (黃菁甯), a lawyer with the non-profit Institute for the Information Industry, said that Taiwan should emulate the US, EU and Australia in enacting regulations to govern unsolicited e-mail to prevent the development of Taiwan's information industry from being adversely affected.

An opinion poll conducted recently by the non-profit Secure Online Shopping Association (SOSA) showed that 40 percent of the e-mail received daily by domestic Internet users is unwanted junk mail, which causes a tremendous waste of time and energy on the part of consumers, as well as having a negative impact on business efficiency.

According to SOSA, unwanted e-mail cost businesses in the US US$9 billion in lost productivity last year, making it an issue worthy of serious attention.

SOSA officials noted that California in September established the toughest ever anti-spam measures, slapping fines of up to US$1 million on offenders.

US President George W. Bush last week signed the "Can-spam Act" aimed at reining in the proliferation of unwanted e-mail. The act was approved by the US Congress last month.

Liu Chiang-ping (劉江彬), director of the Institute of Intellectual Property Studies at National Chengchi University, said that in addition to the US action, other governments, including those of the UK and Singapore, have also in recent months enacted legislation to control the tide of spam.

Liu attributed the flood of offensive Internet bulk advertising and pornographic e-mail to the fact that sending such mail is much cheaper than sending postal "snail" mail or running television advertisements.

The professor said that despite the urgency of stopping spam, some critics in Taiwan have cautioned that anti-spam legislation should not infringe on people's freedom of speech.

Liu said SOSA is the only organization in Taiwan that provides businesses and advertising firms with a set of non-binding self-disciplinary measures aimed at regulating the content of electronic messages.

He said that so far there have only been "discussions" on the enactment of related laws and that Taiwan "has a long way to go" before it will see an anti-spam bill passed into law.

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