Saturday, January 21, 2006

Consultation on proposed legislation against unsolicited electronic messages

Yesterday, the Hong Kong SAR government has proposed legislation against unsolicited electronic messages, including spam emails and automated junk calls, and will conduct public consultation in the coming months before finalizing. To most of the annoyed citizens in Hong Kong, this is a psychologically welcoming news. However, the devil is in the details and as anywhere else in the world, how to effectively legislate laws that are enforcible is what really counts. At an initial glance, these are some of the issues of possible concerns:

- how to distinguish between commercial messages that will be regulated, and those from religious organizations and political parties that will remain unregulated?
- how to handle the problem of manned junk calls that will not be put under control in the current proposal?
- how to tackle cross-jurisdiction problems from spam mails and junk calls originating from overseas?
- will the telecommunications regulatory and interconnection regime between the fixed and mobile operators be revised in time to take away the financial incentives for junk callers (as they pay nothing calling to a mobile phone from a fixed line)?
- on enforcement, how to show that the new law will be effective and collection of evidences and prosecutions will be feasible and practicable?
- how to prevent the "do-not-call" list from becoming a golden list for junk calls, ending up with the reverse effect?
- should legislation against physical junk mails be considered to maintain consistency and avoid specially "penalizing" on electronic means only?

...any probably many more. But, it appears that legislating has become a world trend and Hong Kong simply cannot avoid it anymore, lest we will become a safe haven for such activities.

Anyway, I made some comments to Apple Daily and was briefly quoted today in its report (available free online on day of publication only -- January 21, 2005) :
"允「真人發聲」促銷 滋擾仍難免政府宣布立法規管 嚴打垃圾訊息"

An excerpt:


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