Hong Kong Cracks Down on Spam

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Hong Kong legislators are looking to pass a bill which will outlaw all unsolicited commercial e-mail messages. The extreme nature of the bill has local businesses up in arms.

The Unsolicited Electronic Messages Bill currently being proposed by the Hong Kong legislature considers any unsolicited e-mail sent for marketing purposes to be illegal.

It seems pretty straightforward, right?

Under the bill’s current form, however, an invoice sent to a customer featuring a company logo would be against the law.

What about that product recall notice you received via e-mail offering to replace that faulty lithium-ion battery with a new one?

You guessed it, completely criminal under the proposed legislation.

As expected, local business coalitions have wasted little time in expressing their reservations concerning the bill’s intent. The Standard reports that the principal argument brought forth by local companies is that the bill does not take into account any pre-existing business relationships and offers no exception for messages in which marketing purposes are merely incidental.

A key difference between the Hong Kong bill and US anti-spam legislation lies in legal recourse against companies who are in violation of the law. Only Internet service providers and government agencies can initiate legal proceedings against spammers in the United States, whereas any individual can initiate a lawsuit against a company under the Hong Kong bill’s current verbiage.

With the bevy of court cases sure to ensue, the Hong Kong judiciary system may need to enlist the services of Judge Judy to keep up with the legal circus should the bill be passed into law.

Ultimately, this entire scenario brings to light the difficulty associated with developing, and subsequently enforcing, any type of conceivable anti-spam legislation.

A truly hard-line approach is more than likely going to have negative effects on legitimate e-commerce, while a more laissez-faire attitude sends an open invitation to spammers to exploit every potential loophole they can find.

The Hong Kong government will offer its response to the proposed legislation on October 31 to the Bills Committee.

To heighten public awareness that day, I plan to hand out cans of spam to trick-or-treaters.

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Joe is a staff writer for WebProNews. Visit WebProNews for the latest ebusiness news.

Hong Kong Cracks Down on Spam
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