Writings on technology and society from Wellington, New Zealand

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Let’s talk about Spam

New Zealand spam, even, and I’m not talking about the pressed ham. A few years ago a man in Christchurch was outed by investigative journalist Juha Saarinen for sending vast quantities of the stuff – he boasted of 100 million messages per day – mainly with solicitations to buy things that were supposed to enlarge your penis. If you even had one. That person got extremely grumpy when he received many angry phone calls about his business, complaining that his children were taking calls from strangers angry about unsolicited and inappropriate messages. The irony was apparently lost on him. When challenged, he said that he was doing nothing illegal.

Anyway, after the publicity that person (I would normally use the word “gentleman”, but somehow it doesn’t fit) said that he would stop spamming. Fair enough. But this week the newly-formed anti-spam division of the Department of Internal Affairs has swooped on on an alleged spammer, again in Christchurch, after an expose by the BBC and some fine work by a Danish journalist. The product is again male bodily extension. And this time, all the computers at an address – 22, not bad for a home – have been seized with a view to prosecution under the Unsolicited Commercial Messages Act of 2007.

That’s right, the Spam Act has been used in anger. If this person was indeed spamming he deserves the full penalties of the act, there’s no argument about that. But let’s, for a moment, think about the cynics of this act back when it was a bill – it didn’t get unanimous support in Parliament, after all. Where would New Zealand now be if it hadn’t passed? Left explaining to the BBC’s audience that this vile activity, illegal just about everywhere else, was acceptable in New Zealand? That we think it’s alright for New Zealanders to write to the world’s boys and girls offering to supersize their genitals? 100 million times a day?

Well done every MP who voted for it.

posted by colin at 6:37 pm  

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