Mon, Apr 06, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Lawmakers reviewing spam bill

FIRST OF A KIND The new regulation, if passed, would put the onus on the victims, who would have to prove that repeated junk e-mails have harmed them in some way

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Legislative Yuan’s Transportation Committee is scheduled today to continue its review of the articles contained in the nation’s first bill designed to regulate computer spam.

Lawmakers, however, have questioned the viability of some of the articles in the National Communications Commission’s (NCC) bill.

The committee completed its first question-and-answer session concerning the NCC’s version of the bill on Thursday and considered two other proposed bills, one from Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator John Wu (吳志揚) and the other from Democratic Progressive Party Legislator (DPP) Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃).

It was originally scheduled to review all of the spam bill’s articles on the same day, but decided to schedule another session for more deliberation after some legislators pointed out controversies in the design of the bill.

The new bill only regulates spam distributed through the Internet.

However, lawmakers also want to include junk messages distributed via mobile phone text messaging and digital TVs.

Those found to distribute massive amounts of spam that harms the interests of recipients will be fined between NT$500 and NT$2,000 for each e-mail sent.

The NCC’s bill states that the victims are responsible for providing evidence that the junk e-mail has harmed their interests.

Though the bill empowers individuals to file corporate lawsuits, the case has to be filed collectively by a minimum of 20 people. They then have to show that they either received spam from the same distributor or the damage was caused by the same type of junk e-mail they received on a regular basis.

Legislators are concerned that the bill will fail to encourage victims to come forward. They said that lawsuits consumed both money and time, and few would be willing to go to the trouble with the possibility of gaining almost nothing in return.

DPP Legislator Yeh Yi-ching (葉宜津) said the NCC should also set separate penalties for spam distributors, but Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Tsao Erh-chang (曹爾忠) and others criticized the proposal, saying that the measure would produce a group of “judicial cockroaches,” who make a living by helping victims form cases against alleged spam senders.

In response, the NCC proposed that mobile phone junk messages be regulated by the Telecommunications Act (電信法) and other relevant laws.

The NCC plans to assign a qualified non-governmental association to assistant individuals in filing corporate lawsuits.

The NCC said antivirus and data management software developer Symantec last year rated Taiwan as the world’s ninth-largest spam distributor.

Currently, similar regulations on spam distribution are used in the US, Japan, Australia and the EU.

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