Israeli CAN-SPAM Engenders Its Own Spam


Starting next month, the Israeli anti-spam law will be coming into effect. The new law deals with unwanted postal mail, text messages, and phone calls in addition to email. It has more in common with the European law than the US CAN-SPAM act, since it requires senders/callers to have a record of the recipient’s having OPTED-IN. However, there are a few big loopholes: if you have purchased something & provided your contact details, this is considered to be an implied opt-in. Another exception is for charity or political purposes. So I guess I can expect to continue to receive my monthly (or so) phone call from Bibi Netanyahu. OK, so it’s not really him, just a recording of Netanyahu, but it always takes a few seconds before I realize.  And truthfully, I’m not even sure what he’s calling about since I always hang up long before he gets to the point. But I digress.

Interestingly, the law allows private citizens to sue for up to NIS 1,000 (around $250 US) for each incident, without proving any specific damages. Citizens can also lodge a complaint with the police, who can follow up with a criminal charge leading to much stiffer penalties. Meanwhile legitimate Israeli businesses are scrambling to request that their customers opt-in, for example see this message from the daily financial newspaper, Globes.

So, should we expect a major drop in Hebrew spam, or spam originating from Israel? Well, let’s look at the numbers. In Israel, some 5-8% of the inbound spam is Israeli, i.e. originating from Israeli businesses, typically in Hebrew. We expect to see a significant decline in this type of spam, at least at first. But since it’s such a small part of the overall flow of spam that many users may not notice much difference.

Of course, it’s a positive thing that Israel is coming into line with other countries, attempting to prevent unscrupulous spammers from profiting at the expense of individuals. However time has shown that the truly unscrupulous will find ways around the law, either by sending from outside of Israel, or who knows, maybe some of the big spammer companies will somehow register themselves as a charity, or a political party :).

I got a chuckle out of this message which came in this morning, urging small businesses to use this spammer’s services before Dec. 1.The subject of the message is “You have one last chance.”

One last chance to spam

One last chance to spam

It loosely translates to the following: “Mail yourself to success. On December 1, a new law comes into effect. This is your chance as a freelancer, small or medium business to advertise yourself effectively and economically. Quick, before it’s over! Advertising yourself through email works, now more than ever.  etc. etc. etc.”

Special thanks to these useful sources of information about this new law:

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