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Australia hits back at spammers
( 2003-12-04 10:30) (Agencies)

Senders of electronic junk mail or spam face fines of hundreds of thousands of dollars in Australia under a new law approved by parliament.

But the law, which was passed late Tuesday, is not expected to stop the massive influx of overseas-sourced spam.

Communications Minister Daryl Williams said the legislation, which will see spammers fined up to A$1.1 million ($803,000) for each day messages are sent, was a step in the right direction but was not a "silver bullet" that would alone curb global spam.

Spam now accounts for half of all emails sent worldwide. The United States was revealed as the worst offender by a British parliamentary taskforce report, which showed it was the origin of nine out of 10 spam messages.

"Spam poses a complex problem for the international community and the solution is not straight-forward," Williams said.

"The government's approach to combating spam combines domestic legislation with international negotiation, public education, the development of industry codes of practice and of technical counter-measures."

U.S. President George W. Bush is expected to sign into law an anti-spam bill by the end of the year, which would see senders face jail time and multi-million-dollar fines.

Australia's legislation, which will be enforced by the Australian Communications Authority, bans the sending of commercial e-mails without the prior consent of end-users, unless there is an existing business relationship.

It also requires commercial electronic messaging to include accurate details of the sender and bans the distribution and use of e-mail "harvesting" or list-generating software.

In September, lawmakers in Britain and Italy banned the delivery of unwanted bulk emails, introducing hefty fines. Britain also flagged the possibility of extraditing offenders.

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