Hong Kong has “simplified” its Code of Practice on the Procedures for Handling Complaints Against Senders of Unsolicited Fax Advertisements, according to Xinhua. Under the new rules, the consequence of two substantiated complaints for sending unsolicited faxes is disconnection of the sender's telephone lines (all of them). Now, I know that a telephone operator's asserting the right summarily to disconnect people from the network is a dangerous thing — and that's all the more true when the operator is state-run. The basic genius of the first amendment is that avenues of communication should be removed as far as possible from state control, and it's not hard to imagine this used as a weapon against political dissidents who see a fax or two go astray. But still — the death penalty for junk faxers! A guy can dream, can't he?
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by Michael Froomkin
Laurie Silvers & Mitchell Rubenstein Distinguished Professor of Law
University of Miami School of Law
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It sounds as if Hong Kong is taking a page from the playbook of the old (pre-Carterphone) Bell System, which asserted (and exercised) precisely this right against people who had the temerity to Mess With The Network, as well as the occasional deadbeat. Now competition seems to have changed that, except in places where there isn’t any.