Botswana government intends to pass a law that will criminalise irritating calls, text messages and emails known as unsolicited commercial communications or spam.
In this technological era unsolicited commercial communications are a menace to individuals. Commercial communication means any message, voice, SMS or email made through telecommunications service, which is transmitted for the purpose of informing about, or soliciting or promoting any commercial transaction in relation to goods, investment or services.
Subscribers may however opt not to receive such messages. According to the 2013 Electronic Communications and Transactions Bill to be tabled in parliament by Trade and Industry minister Dorcas Makgato-Malesu marketers who carry out marketing by means of electronic communications will now be required to provide the addressee with the originator’s (marketer) identity and contact details including its place of business, email, addresses and telefax number.
Also a valid and operational opt-out facility from receiving similar communications in future should be provided, according to the Bill, which will affect cell phone network providers. Section 5 of the Bill reads, “An originator who fails to provide the addressee with an operational opt-out facility in terms of this section commits an offence and is liable to a fine not exceeding P10 000, or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 5 years, or both.”
According to Section 6 of the Bill, any originator who persists in sending unsolicited commercial communications to an addressee who has opted-out from receiving any further electronic communications from the originator through the originator’s opt-out facility commits an offence and is liable to a fine not exceeding P50 000, or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 8 years, or both.
Makgoto-Malesu says the object of the Bill is to facilitate the use of electronic means of communication so as to enable among others; legal recognition and validity of electronic commercial transactions conducted internally and externally; electronic transactions to be recognised in the same manner as paper based transactions and also the promotion of a legal framework to support electronic commercial practices.