Monday, February 14, 2005

      Anti-spamming Laws to be Passed in mid-2005

"Microsoft and drug giant go after spam

They file 17 suits against spammers and websites selling fake drugs

WASHINGTON - TWO corporate giants, Microsoft and Pfizer, have taken unprecedented coordinated legal action against Internet spam - also a growing problem in Singapore.

Both companies filed a total of 17 lawsuits in courts in New York and Washington state targeting various alleged spammers and website operators that peddle fraudulent versions of drugs, particularly the sexual-performance drug Viagra.

Lawsuits by Internet service providers (ISP) such as Microsoft, EarthLink and America Online have become commonplace in the United States since the passage of federal and state anti-spam laws. But this is the first time an ISP has joined a major retailer to attack the supply chain of online scams.

The lawsuits will strike a chord with e-mail users in Singapore. According to a 2003 survey by the Infocomm Development Authority, 94 per cent of an estimated 1.4 million e-mail users in the Republic received unsolicited e-mail advertising.

However, Singapore's ISPs will soon also be backed by a tough law to help them fight the spammers. The anti-spam law, expected to take effect by the middle of this year, proposes to give ISPs a statutory right to take civil action against spammers.

It may also require senders of unsolicited commercial e-mail to provide an opt-out mechanism, whereby recipients can choose whether they want to continue receiving such e-mails.

As many as one in every four spam e-mails advertises fake versions of Pfizer's blockbuster erectile dysfunction drug, Microsoft and Pfizer said...

'This is the first time that we've had this cross-industry partnership to target the entire spam supply chain,' Mr Aaron Kornblum, Microsoft's Internet safety enforcement attorney, was quoted as saying by the Associated Press.

The two companies filed separate lawsuits against the unknown people behind the CanadianPharmacy site at, and the operators of E-Pharmacy Direct at, The New York Times said yesterday. A 'communication problem' was encountered during failed attempts by The Straits Times to access the two sites late yesterday...

...Microsoft and Pfizer jointly hired private investigators to track down the two sites' operators, but those who run such shady online businesses are adept at concealing their true identities.

Filing the lawsuits allows Microsoft and Pfizer to subpoena ISPs and credit card payment processors for information that will help them trace the defendants..."

Microsoft and drug giant go after spam - Strait Times Interactive (14 Feb 05)

It's about time that someone takes actions against spammers. It's causing a lot of loss in productivity; my inbox is often flooded with spams.

The anti-spamming laws debuting in mid 2005 is worth looking forward to, but more importantly, how is Singapore going to police this new policy? After all, what good is a policy that is not enforced? In addition, what repercussion does the enforcement of this policy have on civil rights and personal privacy?

Definitely, policy as this is a double-edged sword; Let's see how this unfolds.


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