With effect from 22 December 2007 onwards, new rules on sending commercial electronic messages under the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Ordinance ("Ordinance") will start to apply in Hong Kong. Broadly speaking, the rules fall into four categories, namely

(1) accurate sender information;

(2) unsubscribe facility statement;

(3) do not- call registers; and

(4) no misleading title headings.

Failure to observe these requirements may lead to enforcement notice issued by the telecoms regulator in Hong Kong (i.e. the Office of the Telecommunications Authority ("OFTA"), and subsequent non-compliance with such enforcement notice may lead to criminal prosecution and sanction.

The OFTA is also planning to issue a Code of Practice to serve as a guide on the new rules. In addition, the OFTA will establish separate do-not-call registers for fax, short messages and telephone pre-recorded message, and such facility will be launched in 2008. Senders of marketing messages should subscribe to these registers and conduct checking on the numbers on the list at regular intervals since the new law forbids a sender from sending further electronic messages to a number listed on these do-not-call registers unless consent from the recipient is obtained.

In view of the coming implementation of the new law, it would be prudent for senders of electronic business mess

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ages to check again if their procedure deviates from the law to ensure legal compliance.