Friday, 12 March 2010

Blog 'comments' provide Spam Act loophole for Oz spammers

Have you received one of these comments on your blog yet?
"There are many Australians that use wireless broadband as an additional home broadband service, allowing them the convenience of being connected to both the home and office while out and about or when traveling. -- http://www.let.com.au"
Now check out the search engine results here. As you can see, this is clearly a form of spam.

But not according to the Spam Act 2003. I received this response from the ACMA to my query from last week:
The Spam Act 2003 covers unsolicited commercial electronic messages. This includes emails, SMS, MMS and iMS services.

Under the Spam Act, the distinguishing feature is that a commercial electronic message needs to be sent via an Internet carriage service or any other listed carriage service to an address connected with an account of some sort.

In the case of the posting commercial messages on blogs, the blog itself and not an account (such as an email address) is used to receive the message.

Therefore, such postings are not within the scope of the Spam Act.
Obviously it is difficult to keep up to date with spammers and their techniques, and in many ways Australia was a pioneer in introducing legislative protection from spammers.

Nonetheless, the spammers seem to have the upper hand in extra-territorial matters. Interestingly, it has been two telecommunications companies who have posted spam comments on my blog.

While domestic communications networks remain tied to territorial jurisdiction, it would seem that a Wilsonian approach to solving the global spam problem is needed. The ITU has shown some leadership in this role although the international institution views 'appropriate legislation and effective enforcement' as the best means of reducing spam.

But businesses can also play a role. Recently, Microsoft received court approval to shut down the Waledac botnet.

And what of Australian businesses? At the moment, blog comments are not counted as spam and it would be difficult for any domestic government to police. But what about updating the Internet industry code of practice? I will attempt to submit something to the IIA about this issue and will report back later.

Creative Commons License Except where indicated otherwise, Le Flâneur Politique by Michael de Percy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 Australia License. Based on a work at politicalscience.com.au. Background image ©Depositphotos.com/ @redshinestudio