'

Aust spam regulator has businesses 'under observation'

The Australian Communications Authority (ACA) has revealed that several businesses are already under observation as the regulator moves to ensure corporate compliance with Australia's new Spam Act, which came into force over the Easter weekend.The ACA said it had issued several companies with information notices detailing how to comply with the anti-spam legislation; a measure, they say, that will give businesses the opportunity to "do the right thing".

The Australian Communications Authority (ACA) has revealed that several businesses are already under observation as the regulator moves to ensure corporate compliance with Australia's new Spam Act, which came into force over the Easter weekend.

The ACA said it had issued several companies with information notices detailing how to comply with the anti-spam legislation; a measure, they say, that will give businesses the opportunity to "do the right thing".

John Haydon, executive manger of consumer and universal services, says the ACA's Anti-Spam Team will be investigating patterns of spam to lead them to major sources in Australia.

"There are a number of players that we are observing at the moment and we have written letters to inform them of the legislation," said Haydon.

The ACA says it has received many complaints about spam from Internet users. However, Haydon states that the "first port of call" for a user with an e-mail complaint should be their ISP.

"ISPs may provide some assistance for those getting spam," said Haydon, adding "spammers are often visible through the diligence of their ISPs."

Haydon explains that "industry partnerships" are a key component in enforcing the anti-spam legislation, including alliances with both ISPs and e-marketing organisations.

However, Haydon notes that Australia's contribution to the global spam problem is significantly less than other developed countries; a factor, he says, which makes international cooperation an important part of the solution.

"No one pretends that Australia produces the bulk of spam, so that's why we're working with international organisations to contain spam that's originated in one country but targets another," said Haydon.

A Memorandum of Understanding over the legislation was signed with the Republic of Korea in October of 2003, while talks to secure cooperation from the United States are still continuing. Eastern European countries and Japan are also marked as potential partners in the fight against spam.

"There is still plenty of work to be done," said Haydon, explaining "a large part of changing the consumer experience [of the Internet] is international work. Key planks that we're working on [are] education and industry partnerships as well as working with international organisations, technology providers and ISPs."

The ACA says e-mail account holders who wish to report spam can pass on examples of unsolicited commercial messages to its e-mail complaints address, accessible via this page on the organisation's Web site.