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Spam Ban in Kyrgyzstan

By News Briefing Central Asia
Kyrgyzstan’s advertising law has been widened to include a ban on spam, but experts say the legislation needs work if it is to have any real effect.

A presidential decree dated August 15 makes it illegal to send out advertising via unauthorised mass mailings using the internet, mobile phone messages or fax. But the penalty – up to two years imprisonment – is more of a formality than a real threat, say analysts. The law itself raises too many questions to be implemented effectively. There is no clear definition in the law of what constitutes spam and what is a legitimate mailshot. If journalists, for example, were to send their material to a number of media outlets without having obtained prior permission, they might fall victim to the law.

Experts on the subject emphasise that there is as yet no mechanism for implementing the advertising law’s provisions banning spam. Internet insiders say the police department that deals with IT matters is taking virtually no action. When internet providers suffer from abuses they have to catch the offenders themselves. In practice, there is no clear method of getting the law-enforcement agencies to deal with this sort of crime.

Analysts suggest the law was adopted with an eye to the future. At present, anti-spam policy is largely a matter for major providers and the owners of servers. Neither users nor providers are ready for any major changes right now. However, the tightened restrictions against spam in the new law will give specialists more of an incentive to impose order on use of the worldwide web.

Spam protection is currently carried out by providers, who now use anti-spam blocks on their servers, and by users, who can set up filters to protect themselves from mass mailings from spammers. According to NBcentralasia sources, 23 per cent of internet users say they do not need legal protection from spam.

(News Briefing Central Asia draws comment and analysis from a broad range of political observers across the region.)

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