China to regulate Internet Email Services

2011-08-11 15:45:55

*Please note that this article preset on this website expresses the personal views and opinions of the author and is for your information only, not necessarily represent those of any parties or organizations. However, if there is any discrepancy between this article and the Regulation's Chinese version, the later shall prevail, which could be reached by the website.

Since the Internet and its application acquire rapid development, a series of problems related to Internet, for example the Spam, have accompanied, which may lead to a lot of troubles. The flooding of Spam will result in a mass of network resources being wasted, and the normal email corresponding being affected. Usually, Spam is utilized by some network virus and hackers as a carrier for virus spreading, which has caused network security cases. It not only directly threatens the Internet information security, but also aggrieves email users' legitimate rights and corporation's benefits.

On these regards, in order to regulate Internet Email Services and safeguard the legal rights of the end users, Ministry of Information Industry (MII) of P. R. China enacted the first national anti-Spam regulation on March 30th, 2006, which is hereby formulated in accordance with related national laws on telecommunications and Internet.

The Regulation stipulated it applies to the Internet Email Services, provision of access to the Email Services and the behaviors of sending or receiving email within the boundaries of the P. R. China.

According to the Regulation, any organization or individual is not allowed to provide Internet Email Services within the territory of the P. R. China if it does not receive the License for value-added telecommunication services, or not fulfill the registration procedures for non-profit Internet information services.

Responsibilities and obligations concerning to the Email Services providers (ESPs) are also involved in this Regulation. Before operating the Email Services, ESPs are required to fulfill the registration of email servers' IP addresses to MII or local related authorities 20 days ahead the running of servers. Besides, ESPs are required to construct the Email Services System following the technical criterions formulated by MII, closing Open-Relay function, enhancing servers security administration, and adopting prompt response upon any network security loophole been discovered. On the other side, the privacy of personal email correspondence is strictly protected. The email content only could be revealed in the case of national security concerns or criminal investigation need. ESPs not only be obliged to inform clearly its users of the services content and instructions, but also have the obligation to protect the users personal registration information and email addresses, which shall not turn to illegal use or be disclosed and revealed without the consent of its owners. Regarding the running record of email servers, ESPs are required to keep for 60 days, including the time of sending and receiving recorded as well as the email addresses and IP addresses of senders/receivers tracked.

Any organization or individual is forbidden to manufacture, duplicate, publish, distribute or circulate an email containing content stipulated in related laws. Meanwhile, taking advantage of emails to engage in activities which are detrimental to network and information security is strictly prohibited in accordance with related laws.

Furthermore, below behaviors are deemed as illegal in this Regulation: using the computer of a third-party to send emails without prior permission; using email addresses collected by means of online automated collection, random combination of letter or number etc with the purpose of sell, share, or exchange; sending emails to the addresses collected via the above ways; deliberately concealing or fabricating the information attached to the email such as the sender, receiver, transmission route, which is used to reflect its sources, destination or transmission process.

As for the commercial advertising email several relevant terms are promulgated in the Regulation. Sending the emails containing commercial advertising contents without definite consent from the recipient, or without the word 'Advertisement' or 'AD' marked in the front of the email subject line is prohibited. Moreover, unless where both parties have other agreements, the senders are required to stop sending AD email once recipients refuse to receive continuously, although they have explicitly agreed to receive before. And the senders are required to provide the recipients with their contact point including the email address for un-subscription application, with the guarantee that the contact point should be valid within 30 days from the date when the recipients agree to receive the AD email.

Both the ESPs and its access services providers are required to accept the complaint report on email related issues from users. The Regulation indicates that depending to different requests the complaint reports collected are required to be submitted to relevant national authorities, or be reported to the 'Complaint and Handling Center on Emails Abuse' setup by Internet Society of China (ISC) with the entrustment from MII. Any organization with its email address found being reported is required to launch investigation immediately, take further efforts and steps and report relevant results to above institutes.

At the rest part of the Regulation, penalties regarding relevant violation behaviors to are promulgated in details. The maximum fine stipulated is not more than 30,000 RMB. Though the penalty seems not very severer, to create and construct a healthy email services industry is more significant.

It is pleased that this regulation has filled the domestic law void of this field, which will be a further protection to users' legal rights. To create a better environment for the development of global Internet email services requires international joint efforts from all sides and China is willing to participate in relevant exchanges and cooperation both from home and abroad.