Australian regulators registered a set of rules that could impose massive fines on Internet Service Providers (ISP) who fail to help counter the plague of unwanted emails.
"This is the first legislative code of practice for Internet and email service providers in the world, and I highly commend the Australian Internet industry on its work against the problem of spam," said Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) chairman Chris Chapman.
The new Australian legislation will require ISPs to offer spam filtering options to subscribers and to put in place a process for handling users' complaints.
It also imposes limits on the rate at which users can send emails, to prevent spammers from flooding the net with unsolicited sales pitches and other material.
The (ACMA) said the legislative code of practice will come into force in July, building on a 2003 Spam Act which focused on the spammers themselves rather than the Internet Service Providers (ISP).
Providers who fail to enforce the new regulations face penalties of up to AUD$10 million (US$7.1 million) where as the maximum fine under the 2003 Spam Act could reach AUD$1 million for offences.
The code also sets out how ISPs should deal with misconfigured customer email servers and virus-infected computers used to spread spam, known as zombies.
It applies to all of the 689 active Internet service providers in Australia and global email operators like MSN Hotmail and Yahoo will also be hit by the legislation.
Unsolicited emails, or spam, cost business and private Internet users worldwide billions of dollars a year in computer security systems and wasted time. It is now believed to account for some 70 per cent of emai.
Australia is one of 32 countries that have anti-spam legislation on their books.