Electronic messages code of practice published
The Office of the Telecommunications Authority (OFTA) today (November 26) published the Code of Practice under the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Ordinance, which serves as guidance to senders of commercial electronic messages on how sender information and unsubscribe facility statement should be presented, and the type of unsubscribe facility that should be provided, in commercial electronic messages.
Phase One of the ordinance came into effect in June while Phase Two, which mainly concerns the rules for sending commercial electronic messages, will come into force on December 22.
Following a public consultation in September, OFTA has finalised the code and will publish it in the Hong Kong Gazette on Friday (November 30) in accordance with the requirement of the ordinance. The code will take effect when both Phase Two of the ordinance as well as the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Regulation come into operation. The regulation, subject to negative vetting of the Legislative Council, will also commence on December 22.
A spokesman for OFTA said, "To fully understand the legal requirements, senders of commercial electronic messages should read the Code of Practice in conjunction with the ordinance and the regulation. Senders should review their existing practice and service platforms and take necessary action to ensure they will be able to comply with the legal requirements when the second phase of the ordinance begins."
"The availability of clear guidelines for senders will also help protect recipients' interests. For example, in a fax message, the code requires that the sender information and unsubscribe facility statement must be presented either at the top or the bottom of the first page of the fax message. In this way, the recipient should be able to locate such information easily," the spokesman said.
The full text of the Code of Practice and the relevant Telecommunications Authority Statement can be downloaded from OFTA's website at http://tel_archives.ofca.gov.hk/en/tas/uem/ta20071126.pdf.
Apart from the code, senders should also have regard to the three do-not-call (DNC) registers (for fax, short messages on telephone and pre-recorded telephone messages) which will be launched under the ordinance in phases starting from December. When the DNC registers come into operation, senders of commercial electronic messages should not send commercial electronic messages to the numbers which have been listed on the DNC registers unless they have obtained consent from the relevant recipients.
"Senders who wish to subscribe to the DNC registers for vetting their sending lists against the DNC registers will have to pay an annual fee of HK$1,600 (or a quarterly fee of HK$425) for each register and this will allow unlimited downloading during the subscription period," the spokesman explained. Starting from November 30, applications for such a subscription account may be made online at the official website of OFTA. From December 22, applications should be made online at the DNC registers official website.
"To help senders better understand how the DNC registers operate, OFTA has set up a demonstration site for senders' trial," the spokesman added. For more information about the DNC registers as well as the demonstration site, please visit OFTA's website at http://tel_archives.ofca.gov.hk/en/uem/dnc.html.
The ordinance regulates the sending of commercial electronic messages that have a Hong Kong link (but person-to-person interactive communications are exempt). It was enacted in May and comes into effect in two phases. In Phase One (starting from June 1), those parts of the ordinance in relation to offences concerning (i) the use of unscrupulous techniques to reach out to more recipients; and (ii) fraudulent and other illicit activities related to the sending of multiple commercial electronic messages, have come into effect.
Phase Two mainly concerns the rules for sending commercial electronic messages. For example, senders of electronic messages must provide accurate sender information, unsubscribe facility and unsubscribe facility statement in the message, and senders must honour the unsubscribe requests made by recipients and must not send messages to numbers listed on DNC registers. Phase Two will begin on December 22.
Ends/Monday, November 26, 2007
Issued at HKT 12:35