Hong Kong Proposes Outlawing All Unsolicited Commercial Email… Even For Those With Existing Relationships

from the a-bit-extreme dept

There have been plenty of complaints about the US’s CAN SPAM law and the equivalent law in the UK that has been fairly useless, mainly due to all of the loopholes. Over in Hong Kong, it looks like they’re trying to create their own anti-spam law that doesn’t come with such loopholes. In fact, it has so few loopholes that it could potentially outlaw all sorts of commercial email that most people probably wouldn’t consider spam. Basically, the law won’t allow any email to have any marketing message whatsoever, unless the recipient has specifically requested it — even in cases of pre-existing relationships. While it does sound like some of the marketing folks may be overreacting (saying things like product recall notices would be illegal under the law) you can also see how this particular law may go a bit overboard in outlawing all sorts of email that most people probably wouldn’t consider spam. What this really highlights, however, is just how difficult it is to come up with a law that can successfully outlaw spam. If there are any loopholes, then spammers will figure out ways to exploit them. If there are no loopholes, then you’re probably killing off plenty of legitimate email as well.

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Comments on “Hong Kong Proposes Outlawing All Unsolicited Commercial Email… Even For Those With Existing Relationships”

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Anthony (user link) says:

Recently I signed on as a member to a handful of sites selling computer hardware. (Had to, to check the shipping price, but thats another story).

In most cases, these sites had a tickbox “Receive newsletter” in the signup form. Thats fine with me – I unticked it, because I didn’t intend to revisit the site or be a regular customer. I don’t want to know about their specials etc.

If one of these sites sends me a newsletter without my permission, even a once off “Hey, would you like to sign up to our newsletter? Heres a sample!”, I won’t be happy with them. Far better to get permission before even sending that first one.

This method would pass the proposed HK laws, because I specifically requested it when signing up. And because I’ve requested it, I’m far more likely to pay attention to it and buy the products. Win-win?

Paul says:

Simple Laws

Unless I handed over my email address to you directly (via a web form or an email or some other form of sign up) I should never recieve any kind of _mass_ sent commercial email from you.

The key here is mass sent. If I run a business or say I have a personal webpage with some artwork on it, it should be fine for some passerby to see my artwork, see my email on my webpage and send me a business related email saying “hey I like your work, lets to business” but not some mass generated email.

Furthermore this would kill email address farming/selling that so many companies do. I sign up for one site, they give my email to a few other sites, those companies send me _mass generated_ emails.

The only _mass generated_ email I should ever unsolicitely recieve from any company is some sort of crucial notification, such as a recall, class action suit that I may qualify for etc.

And of course, all mass emails, even solicited ones, should have a “unsubscribe” link at the bottom that should take no more than a total of 2 clicks to complete (one to click the link, one to confirm the action) none of this making me “log in” to change my email settings with an account I never even set up in the first place.

bigSteve says:

I don't see a problem

I’m a software guy by trade. I have a half a dozen email accounts and spam hasn’t bothered me in years. I use junk accounts for ordering stuff online, accounts like hotmail. I use large accounts for friends just in case they’re sending personal work, or video (gmail – their spam filters rock). I have my work account for work which is filtered. When I say filtered, I mean we use DNS blacklisting, spam assassin and many other freely (linux based) available solutions that are out there. I don’t receive junk email in that box.

Where’s the problem? If you have one email address and it gets inundated with junk, there are many solutions out there. We don’t need to make laws for which there are already solutions.

Bozo the Non Wonder Dog says:

Sign me up!

When signing up for vendors to see shipping prices, tech “member only” websites to get answers, etc… you could use something like Mailinator(http://www.mailinator.com/mailinator/index.jsp) which creates a dummy account then deletes the account after a couple hours. After you’ve had a chance to click the link for activation, or get your password, or whatever you need to do.

Griffon says:

A thing of beuty

I don’t know sounds like a thing of beauty to me. Every inception, every good intentioned air hole, gets a semi truck full of spam crammed through it. I say lash every thing down to tight that a company can barely send mail internal and then slowly oh so slowly start to allow things again.The situation with spam is totally out of control world wide. The spam makes up a depressingly large amount of the total net traffic and eats way to much mind share.

bigSteve says:

Re: Re:

You say the law doesn’t go far enough because you don’t understand the problem. The ones sending spam are much smarter than the individuals trying to catch the spammers. This is a completely typical scenario in the tech field, the thieves/wrongdoers are more educated, and better trained in the tech fields than the cops. Law enforcement won’t be able to catch these guys anytime soon and frankly it’s a complete waste of resources to try. If the world is going to spend millions chasing and enforcing spammers, we’re doomed. There are so many bigger issues to address.

And… a response to your previous post. I understand the issue you call a problem. What I was trying to explain in laymans terms is that there is no problem, if you have a solution. If you don’t know what you’re talking about, keep it to yourself. Again… on this forum, thanks for a snide, useless comment.

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