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An anti-spam bill passed its preliminary reading in the Knesset yesterday. The bill would prohibit junk mail advertising using e-mail, fax, landline or cellular telephones and cellular SMS text messages.

The fine imposed on violators would be NIS 1,290 per recipient.

The bill, submitted by MK Roman Bronfman (Yahad) was drafted by the Consumer Council based on the U.S. model - a no-call list maintained by the Justice Ministry for which any citizen can register. Bronfman explained that junk mail has become a public nuisance, as well as costly for business, internet providers and others.

The Knesset also approved a preliminary reading of a bill regulating direct mail. The bill makes mailings to registered citizens a violation and allows for class action suits against violators.

Bill sponsor MK Reshef Chayne (Shinui) explained that mass advertisement mailings to hundreds and even thousands of recipients have developed in recent years. In addition, Chayne criticized telemarketing technology that ties up phone lines for several minutes playing recorded messages that are not cut off by hanging up. He said the flood of unsolicited announcements invades the privacy of the individual.