Lack of interest spurs ISP spam deadline extension

The text of the code has already been thoroughly examined by a number of interested parties

With only three submissions received so far, InternetNZ has been forced to extend the deadline for public comment on the proposed Spam Code of Practice by a week.

The code is being drafted by InternetNZ, the NZ Marketing Association and the Telecommunications Carriers’ Forum. But there has been little public interest shown in it so far. Only three submissions were received by the original deadline of last Monday, says InternetNZ communications officer Richard Wood.

“They’re not huge submissions like you might get on a [Parliamentary] Bill or proposals for separation of Telecom,” he says.

The submissions have commented on particular points, suggesting minor rewordings and a few new ideas, he says.

Wood says the text of the code has already been thoroughly examined by a number of interested parties, including various internet service providers, the Commerce Commission, the Department of Internal Affairs (which will handle complaints), the Ministry of Economic Development and consumer bodies such as the Consumers’ Institute and TUANZ (the Telecommunications Users Association of New Zealand). So, given this, there are unlikely to be any major changes made.

The code provides for “minimum acceptable use practices” (AUPs) for ISPs. These include informing users about ways to minimise spam and the handling of user complaints. The latter might be passed on to Internal Affairs, if appropriate, or the user might be redirected to another ISP — one that is more directly involved in the sending of the offending messages.

It also outlines possible sanctions against users — including termination of their account — for hosting or passing on spam, or for operating a server that allows email-relaying or other loose practices that spammers can exploit.

Penalties may also be applied, even when the user is not at fault, for example, where their computer system is infected by a virus or Trojan, or is accidentally misconfigured. In such cases, the code says, “the service provider should provide reasonable assistance, if requested, to assist the customer to comply with the AUP.”

Submissions on the code will not be publicly released until all have been seen by the joint working party developing the code. This is likely to be sometime this week, says Wood.

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