Hong Kong Plans to Make Spam SMS Illegal

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Hong Kong's Commerce Industry Technology Bureau is holding a two month consultation on a raft of anti spam laws that would include messages sent to mobile phones as well as the more traditional spam email problems. The regulations will only affect commercial emails and the proposal is for an opt out based system.

Non-commercial communications from governments, political parties, religious groups, charities or individuals will not fall within the Bill's ambit, Secretary for Commerce, Industry & Technology John Tsang said.

"It should also put the minds of skeptics and conspiracy theorists at ease in that there is no question of Government using the proposed anti-spam legislation to restrict freedom of speech and freedom of expression in Hong Kong," he said.

There are also plans for a "Do-not-call register" for some forms of communication - the exact details will be agreed following the consultation.

Interestingly, the bill also plans to make sending Spam to mobile phones used overseas, but registered in Hong Kong illegal as well.

"This extra-territorial application will facilitate co-operation with overseas law-enforcement agencies and send a clear signal to overseas spammers that their act would not be tolerated," Mr Tsang said.

Frequent travellers could take comfort that their Hong Kong mobile phone numbers are Hong Kong electronic addresses, even if they are roaming in an overseas country, he said.

"If you have included your Hong Kong mobile phone numbers on a do-not-call register and an unscrupulous e-marketer still sends you pre-recorded promotion messages in the middle of the night while you are in New York, that e-marketer has breached the regulatory regime and would be subject to enforcement action by the Telecommunications Authority," Mr Tsang said."

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