Australian code aims to curb spam

A code of practice aims to set up best practices within the ISP and email provision sectors in order to cut down the problem of spam
Written by ZDNet UK, Contributor

A spam taskforce operating under the auspices of the Australian Internet Industry Association (IIA) has released a draft industry code of practice designed to block the spam epidemic.

The draft code -- released today by the IIA -- comes as the NSW Minister for Small Business, David Campbell, released the results of a survey which showed that almost one-third of the state's small-to-medium businesses do not bother with anti-spam technology.

IIA chief executive Peter Coroneos said the code aimed to "define best practice standards" for Internet service providers (ISP) and Web-based email service providers such as Yahoo and Hotmail.

"Having a unified industry standard in Australia will help reduce the volume of spam filling users' inboxes and will complement other efforts occurring both within Australia and internationally," Coroneos said. The draft code was developed by a taskforce set up by the IIA after its meeting with the Australian Communications Authority (ACA) in March 2004.

His comments came as Campbell said the survey found 29 percent of respondents had no anti-spam measures in place to protect their businesses, even though up to three-quarters of those surveyed said they considered spam a time-waster.

The IIA taskforce, chaired by Western Australian Internet Association (WAIA) representative Jeremy Malcolm, also includes representatives from the South Australian Internet Association (SAIA), major and smaller ISPs and email service providers, as well as security and anti-spam consultants and legal experts.

Malcolm said the code was open for public comment until August 30, 2004. Once the comments from the public have been incorporated into the code, it will be submitted for registration to the ACA.

Malcolm said that the code fills a hole not covered by Australia's anti-spam legislation. "The Spam Act is reactive to those who abuse the email system. This code provides a pro-active weapon against the epidemic."

Coroneos said the taskforce was particularly mindful of the ability for smaller industry players to comply with the code.

"We recognise that most ISPs and email service providers are already making considerable efforts to manage spam on behalf of their customers. It is important that this code is able to be easily adopted by all members of the ISP and email service provider community, so we are particularly interested in having their views on their ability to implement the measures we have put forward in this draft," he said.

The spam code is designed to complement a code for eMarketers, which is currently in development by a group chaired by the Australian Direct Marketing Association (ADMA), with assistance from the IIA.

Under the draft code, ISPs and email service providers are asked to take steps including configuring their own networks to make them less susceptible to spam attacks, providing customer information and empowerment solutions to help them avoid spam, advising customers on how to make formal complaints to the regulator about businesses sending spam, and providing reasonable assistance to lawful investigations of illegal spam activity.

Once the code has been registered with the ACA, fines and Federal Court orders can be imposed towards those who breach the code.

Malcolm said certain sections of the code will exempt international email service providers from difficult provisions that may not be applicable to them.

ZDNet Australia's staff reported from Sydney. For more coverage from ZDNet Australia, click here.

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