[KS] Spam and South Korea

Henny Savenije adam_eve at henny-savenije.pe.kr
Fri May 24 05:46:01 EDT 2002

At 04:11 PM 2002-05-24, Frank Hoffmann wrote:
>Point two:  What are you suggesting? What do ROK laws and regulations say 
>about spamming? In the U.S., for example, a message that includes 
>instructions of how to 'unsubscribe' the recipient's e-mail address would 
>legally NOT be considered "spam." So we can all be busy 'unsubscribing' 
>all day and none of us ever gets any spam ...

Korean law is going to be changed. Take a look at the following:

>Gov't to block outbound spam 
>mail  <http://www.koreaherald.co.kr/images/tts.gif>
>The Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC) said yesterday it will 
>draw up a comprehensive plan to block unsolicited commercial e-mail, or 
>spam, of Korean origin, from reaching foreign Internet users.
>The ministry's move comes as more and more spam mail generated by local 
>online marketers hits foreign users.
>In the past foreign spam senders routinely bombarded Korean users with 
>spam mail at e-mail addresses registered with foreign Web services. For 
>instance, local users of Microsoft Hotmail receive dozens of spam messages 
>a day due largely to the sophisticated programs that send bulk mail to 
>almost all the account holders.
>But the situation has changed in recent months as Korean online marketers 
>have obtained sophisticated extractors and programs as well. Now, it is 
>foreign users who are complaining about an influx of spam mail, a 
>phenomenon that has apparently alarmed policymakers at the information 
>Ministry officials said the surge in spam mail originating from Korea is 
>marring the image of the country, particularly at a time when the ministry 
>is keen to promote Korea's position at the forefront of the information 
>technology revolution.
>MIC said it will step up preventive measures that will affect PC rooms, 
>schools and Internet shopping malls.
>The ministry said it will encourage e-mail service providers to secure 
>Internet Protocol addresses of major bulk mail senders in order to 
>regulate illegal or relentless advertisement mailings on the Web.
>"As the United States, Canada and Japan regulate spam senders with legal 
>means, Korea is also set to come up with specific plans to crack down on 
>spammers that try to bypass the regulations," a ministry source said.
>The information ministry earlier said it will push for a revision to the 
>telecommunications network usage and information security law in the first 
>half of this year in order to curb the spread of spam messages.
>As the government's current crackdown is essentially limited due to the 
>nature of widespread unsolicited e-mail, a host of government agencies, 
>civic groups, police, and prosecutors are joining forces to track down 
>violators and implement thorough punishments.
>The ministry also said individuals will be allowed to claim mental and 
>physical damage compensation for unsolicited e-mail with the help of the 
>government-led information dispute arbitration committee. The damage 
>settlement will bypass the court to speed up the process, suggesting that 
>a number of disputes may deal a blow to spam generators.
>Foreign users, meantime, said they find Korean-language (or 
>Chinese-language) spam mail very annoying and frustrating since they 
>cannot block the mail due to the language problem.
>Ted Barker, who operates the Korean War Project Web site 
>(www.koreanwar.org), said in an e-mail to The Korea Herald, that the 
>situation has gone too far.
>"My small Web site had its public forums raided by email harvesting 
>programs by Korean and/or Chinese spammers. I have been averaging about 6 
>to 10 spams per day for months on end as have my Web site members and 
>users, roughly 45,000 of them, to include high ranking U.S. military and 
>Congressional persons," Barker said.
>He said that many visitors to his site who have posted messages on its 
>forums are school children and older people, veterans of the Korean War, 
>their families, military personnel, members of Congress, Koreans, and 
>students doing history projects.
>"A huge amount of spam email has been hitting email boxes all over the 
>world. The Korean War Project and our users have been getting a lot of 
>this unwanted email. This email is always in Hangul, not English. It 
>appears that a Korean or Chinese programmer has been tapping sites with 
>Korean War themes or mentions Korea, in order to obtain email point of 
>contact," he said.
>Barker said that the e-mail extraction has resulted in mail lists being 
>compiled and then sold all over Korea, with hundreds of Korean companies 
>sending email illegally.
>In fact, the surge in spam mail came shortly after the ministry announced 
>that it would step up regulating spam mail and make it obligatory for 
>online marketers to specify the content of commercial advertisements in 
>the header of messages so that recipients can identify them.
>The ministry's specific instruction, unfortunately, appears to have opened 
>the gate for the explosion of spam mail by implying that online marketers 
>are now allowed to send whatever spam mail they want as long as they 
>identify their spam mail as an "advertisement" in the header.
>A number of online users now complain that they are getting more spam mail 
>than before. Even if they try to filter them, online marketers and illegal 
>adult site promoters go a step further: changing the "advertisement" 
>marker in a subtle way to bypass the e-mail filtering.
> From now on, however, those spam mail senders that trick recipients will 
> be slapped with heavy penalties including suspension of business 
> operations or a formal punishment by the prosecution.
>The Fair Trade Commission (FTC), a top regulator, unveiled a string of 
>spam mail countermeasures Tuesday, saying that all spam mail with 
>deceptive headers will be subject to strict punishment in order to tame 
>the skyrocketing number of illegal spam mail.
>The FTC said mail containing exaggerated content will be also punished as 
>it violates fair trade principles even though it is acceptable under the 
>header rules.
>In a related development, a local Web site was forced to shut down by a 
>foreign domain registration service provider. Tonic.to, a U.S.-based 
>domain company, terminated the "wo.to" Web site operated by a Korean firm, 
>after receiving reports about spamming, Monday.
>The termination affects not only "wo.to" but its third-level domain 
>service users. In other words, some ordinary Internet homepage users rely 
>on "wo.to" to simply access their Web addresses and due to the sudden 
>termination all services have stopped. The number of people who used the 
>"wo.to" Web site routing service was estimated at 1.3 million.
>At the same time, major portal sites in Korea have begun to combat spam 
>mail senders, a response to the snowballing influx of trash e-mail that 
>often clogs corporate mail servers and deeply irritates online users.
>Korea's portals are flexing their muscles in all sorts of online 
>activities ranging from personal homepages to news to e-mail accounts. And 
>these portals are now enthusiastic about regulating spam mail, though its 
>effect remains to be seen.
>Daum Communications Corp., a Kosdaq-listed e-mail service provider, 
>introduced what it calls an "online stamp" system that charges a fee for 
>bulk mail senders. The controversial plan, in effect since April 1, irks a 
>host of online marketing companies, but Daum argues such filtering is 
>essential to controlling the maintenance costs of its free e-mail accounts 
>and curbing spam mail.
>NHN, an Internet holding company that operates Naver.com and HanGame, said 
>it will also control bulk mail by asking online marketers to register 
>their IP addresses. Although NHN and Daum are alike in their pursuit to 
>identify bulk mail senders, there is one important distinction. NHN said 
>it will not charge a fee on bulk mail, rejecting the concept of a paid 
>online stamp system, espoused by Daum.
>NHN said its prime concern is to protect young online users and children 
>from harmful, particularly adult, spam mail. And the registration of IP 
>addresses will help filter out those adult site promoters.
>NHN said spam mailers promoting adult content, pyramid sales and illegal 
>CDs of pirated software do not use fixed IP addresses and therefore cannot 
>send spam mail to NHN mail users, while ordinary online marketers will be 
>allowed to communicate with their members with NHN mail accounts once 
>their IP addresses are registered.
>According to the Korea Information Security Agency (KISA), Korean email 
>users were receiving on average 32.65 spam messages per week as of the end 
>of November, 2001, up from 16.87 a year earlier.
>KISA said 52.8 percent of such spam messages are to promote general 
>products and services, followed by adult content advertisements at 18.5 
>percent, lottery and online money-making information at 14.3 percent and 
>illegal software sales at 12.4 percent.
>The number of user complaints about spam mail rose from 325 in 2000 to 
>2,923 in 2001.
>(insight at koreaherald.co.kr)
>By Yang Sung-jin Staff reporter

Henny (Lee Hae Kang)
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