The SA Spam Summit, held on Wednesday 22 October in Johannesburg, highlighted the following issues:

- That Spam costs South African businesses between R7-billion and R13,1-billion per annum just in terms of lost productivity, according to Mark Walker, director for vertical programmes and Africa Research Group at BMI-TechKnowledge

- That while the issue of Spam is covered by section 45 of the Electronic Communications and Transactions (ECT) Act of 2002, there are several loopholes in section 45 arising largely from the lack of a definition of Spam, or "unsolicited commercial communication" as it is referred to in the Act, according to Lance Michalson, partner at Michalsons IT Attorneys.

- That the Department of Communications is likely to amend the ECT Act, taking in to consideration the fact that at the time at which the legislation was developed spam did not present the current challenges. The provisions in the ECT Act have, however, served to create awareness of the problem, according to Envir Fraser, senior eBusiness manager at the Department of Communications. Another alternative is that the issue of Spam might be dealt with by the Law Commission which is presently looking at the opt-in opt-out debate in its work on privacy and data protection, states Michalson.

- That since Spam is a problem of global proportions with the bulk of it originating outside South Africa, in the USA, Europe and the Far East, it is impossible for local legislation and regulation to eliminate all of it. Therefore, education of users is vital, through the media, via Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and of employees by companies to ensure that people are aware of the problem and how to deal with it

- That South African companies have a duty to ensure that their intellectual property is not diluted by employees that circulate spam email using company domain names, by ensuring that their staff are educated on how to use email correctly, according to Michael Judin, senior partner of Goldman, Judin, Maisels Inc.

- That there are an increasing number of tools available via ISPs and computer retail outlets to assist individual users to control and eliminate the amount of Spam reaching their desktops, according to Craig Medefindt, product manager for ISP value added services at TelkomInternet, the key sponsors of yesterday’s event.

- That there are a number of technology approaches that ISPs and corporates with their own mail servers can use to identify incoming mail as spam and to eliminate it before it even reaches the email users, according to Agnelo Fernandes, technical support manager for MicroWorld.

- That email remains a highly effective marketing tool, if correctly used within the parameters of South African legislation and global best practice, according to Mia Papanicolaou, business director of

- The consensus of the panelists was that any company using email as a marketing tool is responsible for understanding the medium and how to use it correctly.

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