- New laws to ban spamming within Australia could fall on deaf ears.
The laws, proposed by the National Office Information Economy (NOIE) and launched by Communications and IT Minister Richard Alston, will have to get past the attorney-general, treasury and a severe war budget before Australians see any relief from inboxes bursting with offers of Viagra and the like.
The legislative plans form the backbone of a national assessment and action plan to counter the spam epidemic currently hitting Australia.
Sources within the report's consultative process describe the plan as "absolutely critical" to any success in miscreant mail reduction.
Among a wide range of educative and technical countermeasures, the report recommends national legislation to ensure:
-- no commercial electronic messaging to be sent without the prior consent of the end user unless there is an existing customer-business relationship;
-- all commercial electronic messaging to contain accurate details of the sender’s name and physical and electronic addresses;
-- a co-regulatory approach with industry including recognition of appropriate codes of practice;
-- appropriate enforcement sanctions.
A spokesman for Alston's office labelled spam a "menace" to millions of individual users and enterprises; however, he conceded any legal changes are entirely dependent on the political will of other parts of government.
"We're getting serious about it, both for businesses and the community," the spokesman says.
Asked whether the minister's office would throw its full weight behind the report and lobby hard for the legislative recommendations, the spokesman indicated that Senator Alston would have to see how the land lies with more senior parliamentary colleagues. "We have to fully evaluate the proposal(s)," the spokesman says.
Alston's spokesman also hosed down earlier claims by shadow minister for IT Kate Lundy that the minister would soon resign saying that the minister had a "lot of challenges in front of him", adding that it was up to the Prime Minister to decide the make-up of portfolios.
Meanwhile, the Australian Internet Industry Association (IIA) is offering consumers a free one-month trial of a range of antispam software products.
IIA chief executive Peter Coroneos says the IIA’s new antispam campaign is a means of ensuring users that "there is an option for controlling this scourge".
"People who have been using the internet for a couple of years routinely have to start each day by deleting dozens, sometimes even hundreds of unwanted emails from their inbox. It has got to be stopped before people decide to just disconnect," he says. "Spam runs the full range from nuisance to nauseating -- all of it unwelcome in this country."
The IIA offer will be available to consumers between now and May 16 2003.
The substantial list of vendors participating in the free trial initiative include MessageCare, MessageLabs, Symantec Australia, Trend Micro, Network Associates, SurfControl and Bluebottle Solutions.