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HK Starts Consultation on Anti-spam Law
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Hong Kong government Friday launched public consultation on the legislative proposals to contain the problem of unsolicited electronic messages.


Highlighting key aspects of the proposed Unsolicited Electronic Messages Bill at the InterChambers of Commerce luncheon Friday, Hong Kong's Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology John Tsang said it would only regulate electronic messages of a commercial nature, ensuring that regulation is needs-driven.


Non-commercial communications from governments, political parties, religious groups, charities or individuals will not fall within the Bill's ambit, Tsang said.


In view of technology's rapid development, the bureau proposes adopting a technology-neutral approach and bringing generally all types of electronic messages within the ambit of the Bill.


"This will not only bring the notorious spamming problem areas, such as e-mail, fax and pre-recorded voice messages, within the regulatory framework, but will also cater for new types of electronic messages that may spring up in future in response to technology and service developments," Tsang said.


Since Hong Kong salespeople regularly make personal phone calls to promote certain products or services, and this practice is generally accepted as normal and legitimate marketing, the bureau proposes excluding normal person-to-person telephone calls from the Bill's ambit.


Tsang said the proposed regulation has adopted the "opt-out" regime after thorough consideration, which requires senders of commercial electronic messages to stop sending further such messages to a recipient if the recipient asks them to.


"An 'opt-out' regime would provide companies with room to promote their products, and in turn facilitate the development of small and medium sized enterprises. It also provides opportunities for recipients to browse through promotion information before deciding whether to receive further messages," Tsang said.


Investigations will be based on complaints. Victims can seek in court remedies from the spammer within six years. Convicted spammers are liable to a maximum fine of 100,000 HK dollars (US$12,903), and 1,000 HK dollars (US$129) per day for repeated offenses.


(Xinhua News Agency January 21, 2006)

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