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Spammers may face more than frowns soon: the Knesset Economic Affairs Committee yesterday approved a bill that prohibits spam and other forms of junk mail.

The law against junk email will come into force within six months, giving companies time to obtain customers' permission to email them.

Defy the law and you may face a NIS 200,000 fine for sendsing material - whether by Internet, SMS, fax or recorded telephone message, without the explicit permission of the customer in writing or by e-mail. A one-time approach by an advertiser will be considered a call to request permission to send an advertisement rather than infringement of the law.

According to the bill, the court may award the recipient NIS 1,000 for each advertisement sent, irrespective of any damage caused to the consumer. A fine of NIS 67,000 may also be levied on advertisers that fail meet certain conditions, which include clear indication that the message is an advertisement, at the start of the message, and clear indication of the name, address and means of contacting the advertiser.

The bill permits advertisers to send messages without the recipient's permission if the latter has provided contact details to the advertiser during negotiations over a product or service and if the advertiser has informed him that the details will be used for this purpose.

Economic Affairs Committee Chairman MK Gilad Erdan (Likud) said the coalition rejected his proposal to establish a database of consumers who do not wish to receive advertisement messages.

The Knesset member had proposed, based on the U.S. model, to prohibit automated sending of advertisements to consumers who sign up on the database.