Govt to introduce anti-spam legislation

Laws to ban spam will be introduced into Parliament later this year, the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Richard Alston, said yesterday .

Cabinet Tuesday agreed that the Australian Communications Authority will enforce the new legislation, which will include fines and other penalties for spam.

A spokesperson for Senator Alston said the laws will apply to spam received in Australia.

The proposed laws have the support of the Opposition and are expected to come into effect from the start of next year, said the spokesperson.

The Government will discuss the new laws with the Australian Direct Marketing Association, said the spokesperson.

One of the key requirements for commercial e-mail will be an 'opt-in' function, meaning users must give prior consent.

The laws also propose an infringement notice scheme, a ban on e-mail address 'harvesting' software, the requirement for all commercial e-mail to contain accurate sender/address details, and an opt-out option.

Businesses which use e-mail for direct marketing in accordance with the Privacy Act will be safe from spam penalties, according to Alston.

A 120-day 'sunrise' period from the enactment of the legislation will allow businesses to ensure their e-mail practices comply with the laws. There will be no penalties during this period.

The spokesperson also said the National Office for the Information Economy was liaising with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development to gain international support against spam.

The government will later launch a cross media campaign to inform the public of the laws, the spokesperson said.

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