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Sunday, July 8, 2007

The NZ Anti Spam Act

It seems like a lifetime ago that I was asked to make a submission on the proposed anti spam laws.

Now we all know that NZ is not a spammers haven, but it did seem like a good idea to put a legal framework in place to regulate the email industry, and clear out the poor practices which were widespread.

I duly bit the bullet and turned off Cold Case (yes, that's how long this series has been running) and made some notes. 2 weeks later those notes were 22 pages of neatly typed, thoughtful and well argued points which assessed the proposed NZ legislation from a 360 degree perspective, compared and contrasted with overseas legislation and experience and, I hoped, summarised both the problems and solutions very neatly. I duly sent it to the MED and waited - very much in the same way that I am still waiting for anything other than a standardised thank you message.

I took the time to study the other submissions - some were from industry insiders like myself. Some were from big commercial organisations whose networks were clogged up with spam, and one or two were from those good upstanding citizens who populate the letters to the editor columns and the Talkback radio shows.

I then studied the proposed legislation when it was published, and after it had been reviewed by a parliamentary committee whose qualifications seemed to be that they had an email address.

I was disappointed by it then, and now, as it is about to take effect, and I am equally disappointed - by its inadequacies, poor definitions, areas of omission and most of all by its failure to address the issues facing the NZ email market. Our website ( deals with the specifics of what the Act does do, and it would take too long to address all of its shortcomings, but let me say this: it will not reduce the amount of spam we get by one little bit. It has more grey areas than a British weather map on a summers day, and it is typical of any government legislation - it misses the point.

Nevertheless it is here now, and it will at least clean up the bottom end of the market - making sure everyone at least does the basics properly from now on.

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