Tue, Apr 07, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Legislators call for tougher penalties in anti-spam bill

NOT SATISFIED Judge Wu Kuan-chao said the draft legislation would target advertisers and Internet portal service providers, but leave spam senders unpunished

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

The National Communications Commission (NCC) yesterday faced more criticism of its anti-spam bill at a meeting of the legislature’s Transportation Committee, with legislators calling for tougher penalties for spam distributors.

The committee had been scheduled to review the bill article by article last Thursday, but put if off because of concerns about several articles.

In addition to NCC officials, legislators yesterday invited representatives from the Judicial Yuan, the Ministry of Justice and the Consumer Protection Commission to the meeting.

Judge Wu Kuan-chao (吳光釗) of the Ministry of Justice’s civil department said the bill, if passed, would become a major source of civil lawsuits.

“The bill said victims of spam can be compensated between NT$500 and NT$2,000 for each junk e-mail they receive,” Wu said. “Suppose a person gets 10 junk e-mails per day: He would therefore be compensated at least NT$5,000 per day and NT$150,000 a month,” Wu said.

“This is a strong incentive for those who just want to build a case against advertisers and would lead to endless lawsuits,” Wu said.

Wu said the bill only goes after advertisers and Internet portal service providers, requiring them to compensate the victims of spam — but leaves the senders unpunished.

Wu also said it was problematic to place the responsibility of providing evidence on the victims.

“Just like penalties for traffic violations, once you have set the rules, motorists are warned and will avoid infringing the law,” Wu said. “The government should prevent people from entering into a potentially time-consuming legal process.”

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Yeh Yi-ching (葉宜津) said the bill could not be enforced without the actions of the government.

“Only the government has the power to investigate such cases,” she said. “It can then provide the victims with the results of the investigation and let them decide if they should file a lawsuit.”

Yeh said it was appropriate to review and amend the bill at the same time and suggested that the NCC stipulate the penalty for senders of spam.

NCC Commissioner Weng Hsiao-ling (翁曉鈴) said the commission would authorize a private association to file corporate lawsuits on behalf of victims.

She said spam was no different from the junk mail people receive every day by mail.

“The damage of spam is done to an individual, who can then determine whether it actually hurt them or not,” Weng said.

Kao Fu-yao (高福堯), director of the NCC’s legal department, disagreed with Wu’s comparison of spam to traffic violations.

He said the NCC had held approximately 40 hearings on spam and believed the measures in the bill were the only way to protect the privacy of individuals and ensure the development of e-commerce.

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