Nigeria to outlaw e-mail spamming

Associated Press

ABUJA, Nigeria — Nigeria — with its global notoriety as a base for
criminals exploiting the reach of the Internet — is considering making
spamming a criminal offense that could land senders of unsolicited
e-mails in jail for three years.
“Any person spamming electronic messages to recipients with whom he has
no previous relationship commits an offense,” said the text of the draft
law presented to the legislature this week.
A person found guilty risks either at least three years in jail, a fine
equal to US$3,500, or both.
The bill must be approved by a simple majority of lawmakers to become
law. It stands a good chance. It was introduced by the governing party,
which has an overwhelming majority in both houses of parliament.
Africa’s most populous country is know for its “advance fee” scamsters

criminals scouting for victims by sending millions of unsolicited
e-mails with false proposals around the world.
Among the most common are e-mails proposing to share portions of dead
African dictators’ ill-gotten estates in exchange for an advance
payment to help move the money overseas. The scammers keep the “fees” while
victims receive nothing.
The proposed law specifically identifies use of computers for spamming,
fraud, identity theft, child pornography and terrorism as criminal
offenses punishable by stiff jail terms and fines.
Richard Cox, spokesman for the watchdog organization Spamhaus, welcomed
the bill _ but noted Nigerian law already outlaws the fraud schemes
circulated on the Internet, but those e-mails keep coming.
“I’m very encouraged to see them taking the step,” Cox said. “But I
want to see them enforce it.”
Also Friday, Nigeria signed an agreement with Microsoft Corp. to work
together to fight Internet crime.
In a statement on its Web site, Microsoft hailed the agreement as a
first with an African country and said it will work with the Nigerian
government
“to combat issues such as spam, financial scams … spyware, viruses,
worms,
malicious code launches and counterfeiting.”
Nuhu Ribadu, head of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes
Commission,
signed the agreement on behalf of the government, said Wilson Uwajeren,
the
agency’s spokesman in Lagos. He gave no other details.
President Olusegun Obasanjo, whose election in 1999 ended more than 15
years
of corrupt military rule in oil-rich Nigeria, has made the fight
against
corruption and financial crime in the country a key plank of his
government
now in its second four-year term.
Computer users around the world see spam — unsolicited, e-mailed
advertisements — as a growing nuisance.
The European Union in 2003 banned all commercial e-mail unless a
recipient
has asked for it, but the regulation must be approved by each national
parliament to become effective.
The U.S. Congress and more than three dozen U.S. state legislatures
have
passed laws to try to contain spam.
Argentina, Australia, Canada and Japan are among other countries that
have
taken legal steps against spam, according to a Web site maintained by
David
Sorkin, an Illinois law professor who tracks the issue.
Anti-spam laws “can be effective. But without the right structure and
enforcement, they can be totally ineffective,” said Cox of Spamhaus,
which
help Internet networks guard against spam and law enforcement pursue
those
who produce it. (AP)
October 15, 2005

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