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Australia plans laws to ban spam

Melbourne, April 16 (Reuters): Australia would ban the unsolicited sending of electronic junk mail known as spam under proposed tough legislation to help control the problem, communications minister Richard Alston said today.

Alston said laws targeted at Australian-sourced spam would help cut the rising volume of junk email which clogs systems and often contains offensive content. “The combination of those two I think means that people expect that legislation should be put in place,” Alston said.

“In principle, there is no reason why this legislation should not come forward in the next few months.”

A report released by Alston today recommended laws banning the sending of commercial electronic messages without the prior consent of the end user, unless there was an existing business-customer relationship.

It said all commercial electronic messaging should also be required to contain accurate details of the senders name and physical and electronic addresses.

But most spam originates outside Australia and Alston said the issue would also need to be addressed internationally.

Two US senators introduced an anti-spam Bill last week, while leading internet service provider America Online said yesterday it had filed five lawsuits against most than a dozen people and companies sending spam to its subscribers.

“We will pursue all the multi-lateral options and do what we can to negotiate arrangements with countries that seem to us to be the most relevant,” Alston said.

Australia has already held talks with the US and will raise the issue through the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum.

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