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Five Countries are Considering Anti-Spam Laws

Neil Schwartzman

The international press is alight with reports of various countries considering privacy and anti-spam legislation. It appears that many countries have arrived at the logical conclusion that after years of supposed 'self regulation'; some marketers must be brought to heel by way of regulation and law, to stop abusive practices.

Qatar called for comments on their draft Personal Information Privacy Protection Law. Inside Privacy had this to say:

This is a groundbreaking development as, should the law be enacted, it will make Qatar the only country in the Middle East to have nationally-applicable data protection legislation.

The proposed definition of 'personal information' extends to any information that can reasonably be linked to a specific individual, irrespective of whether that individual can be identified, thus covering location data. Views are sought on whether the law should include the principle of Privacy by Design by imposing an obligation to design and develop products, systems and services so that privacy protection is included from the outset. The idea of accountability has also been included.

The National reports that there are some encouraging the United Arab Emirates to consider data protection laws along the lines of the Qatari legislation.

South Africa is currently considering comments received regarding their proposed 'Protection of Personal Information Bill'. The Internet Service Providers' Association of South Africa (ISPA) was particularly concerned about an Opt-out registry possibly being run by the Direct Marketing Association of South Africa (DMASA):

… the legislature should retain the clauses that require marketers to get explicit 'opt-in' from consumers before sending them electronic marketing messages.

There was also an editorial published supporting Opt-in as the way to go:

Spam opt-out the way we want it

If there were to be a national opt-out registry to fight back against the tide of spam, what should it look like? How about we consumers set the ground rules?

... the very people that exist to further the aims of companies that fill your inbox with rubbish (the Direct Marketing Association of South Africa (DMASA)) want to be in charge of keeping your inbox clear.

Meanwhile in India, it is reported that the Government to put end to unsolicited telemarketing messages, calls

Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal informed the Rajya Sabha that the mechanism to end the misery of mobile users will take another six weeks to be put in place. The measure would follow the government's earlier failed attempt to stop pesky callers from harassing mobile phone users with voice SMSes.

Like in the previous mechanism, those who do not want to receive unsolicited messages could register their cell numbers with 1909 - the National Do-Not- Call (NDNC) registry created by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai).

Lastly, in Pakistan, the telecommunications authority is warning marketers to cease & desist spamming, or they will invoke what is perhaps the best title I have ever seen, the "Protection from Spam, Unsolicited fraudulent and obnoxious communication Regulations, 2009." The text of the regulation can be found here.

By Neil Schwartzman, Executive Director, The Coalition Against unsolicited Commercial Email - CAUCE
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Related topics: Law, Policy & Regulation, Spam
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