Spam and phishing ban in Japan
The Yomiuri Shimbun
An expert panel established by the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry to study measures to deal with spam e-mail compiled a draft for an interim report Tuesday calling for a ban on sending unsolicited advertising and publicity messages without the prior agreement of receivers.
Based on the content of the draft, the ministry will submit to next year's ordinary Diet session a bill to revise the law to prevent unsolicited e-mail from reaching personal computers and mobile phones.
The current system requires transmitters to display their names, addresses and phone numbers with the phrase "unsolicited advertisement" if they transmit advertisements and publicity messages without the consents of receivers. The current law also stipulates punishment for violations, but only three cases have so far led to arrest since identifying the actual senders is quite difficult.
As a result, with most senders ignoring the rule, the requirement has become a dead letter.
As such, the ministry will require those transmitting such e-mail to obtain advance consent from recipients if they plan to send advertisements and publicity messages by having them register on their Web sites, for instance.
The ministry will work on a framework to enable senders to obtain consent from recipients.
Under the current law, the requirement does not apply to spam sent from overseas, but the ministry will also criminalize unsolicited e-mail from other countries.
The ministry will ask foreign police authorities to crack down on senders after identifying them and is considering a system of international exchange on spam mail.
The current antispam law does not regulate phishing mail, which is presented as e-mail from banks with the aim of obtaining personal information, such as credit card numbers, because such e-mails are not advertisements or publicity messages.
However, since personal information has been stolen through phishing e-mails, the law revision will also include measures to criminalize such e-mails.
Under the envisioned law revision, phishing mail senders will be given a prison sentence of up to one year and fined up to 1 million yen.
A center established within the Nippon Information Communications Association, which is under the supervision of the ministry, offers advice on spam.
According to the center, in August, it received 114,000 reports of spam. The monthly number has exceeded the 100,000 mark since January 2006.
A spam mail virus can turn home computers into "zombie machines" that can be controlled by outsiders to surreptitiously send spam using the target computer e-mail program's address book.
(Oct. 18, 2007)
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