Spam laws go up for review

Federal Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Helen Coonan has called for public submissions to review the Spam Act of 2003.

Senator Coonan said the Australian Spam Act is internationally recognized as a "leading legislative model" to crack down on the scourge of spam that is overloading people's in-boxes and causing "great frustration".

"Since the Act came into effect, many professional spammers that had been based in Australia have either shut up shop or left the country," Coonan said.

Australia's Spam Act applies to unsolicited commercial electronic messages, including those sent via e-mail, SMS, instant messaging and multimedia messaging service (MMS).

Recognizing that spam is an "evolving issue", the government committed to a review within two years of the Spam Act's implementation. A public consultation process is now being undertaken and feedback received will contribute to a report to be tabled in Parliament next year.

"A great deal of spam continues to be received from overseas sources. It is an international problem requiring an approach that focuses on both domestic and international initiatives," Coonan said. "The government remains committed to a multi-layered strategy against spam that includes international cooperation, industry codes of practice, education and awareness activities and the promotion of technical countermeasures."

International collaboration is also being fostered though various organizations including the OECD, the International Telecommunications Union and APEC.

"In 2003 when the legislation was introduced, spam email was recognized as the most significant part of the problem. Although this is still true today, the Australian Communications and Media Authority has reported that spam sent via SMS is an increasing concern for consumers," Coonan said. "Given the strength and general nature of the legislation, the Act is flexible enough to deal with spam sent via a range of technologies."

Industry and members of the public are invited to make submissions to the Spam Act 2003 review by Wednesday February 1, 2006. Copies of the issue paper are available online at www.dcita.gov.au/spam.

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