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Lawmakers protest e-mail blocks


March 4, 2002

Academics among the 2,987 provincial deputies attending the annual meeting of the National People's Congress also called for laws punishing the distribution of junk e-mail, or "spam," the Xinhua news service reported on Monday.

Marketing groups, or "spammers," often relay junk e-mail through Chinese Internet service providers, causing much of the junk e-mail filling screens in the United States to appear to come from China.

The spammers--many of which have had their own IP (Internet protocol) addresses blacklisted--use servers in China and other Asian countries because they are not monitored as closely and are left open as anonymous springboards for junk e-mail.

According to a report last month on Wired News, a growing number of network administrators in the United States and Europe have begun blocking e-mails from servers in China, Taiwan and Korea.

"It is absolutely impossible to isolate China on the Internet today when the exchange of information is so frequent," Xinhua quoted Yang Lu, a computer expert at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, as saying.

"The majority of the junk mail (is) not created in China, so why (should) they block mail from China?" said Zeng Xiaozhen, a professor at Jilin University in the northeastern province of Jilin. He said spam was a global issue and China should make a law to punish creators of junk e-mail.

Separately, in a signed article posted on the Web site of China's party mouthpiece newspaper, the People's Daily, Xu Detian called upon the National People's Congress to pass a law banning the sending of junk e-mail.

E-mail is popular among China's more than 33.7 million Internet users, who on average have about 2.2 e-mail accounts each, according to the China Internet Network Information Centre, China's semi-official Internet authority.

Some of them have had trouble sending e-mails to friends and relatives in the United States in the past few weeks because of the blocks, China's Southern Weekend newspaper said in an article posted on its Web site on Monday.

The newspaper said tens of thousands of companies and Web sites in the United States and Europe have blocked all e-mail coming from Chinese servers.

Peter Lovelock, director of Beijing-based consultancy MFC Insight, said the National People's Congress might be swayed to pass laws calling for more rigorous management of Internet-linked servers in China in order to avoid international embarrassment.

Story Copyright © 2002 Reuters Limited.


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