The New Hong Kong Unsolicited Electronic Messages Ordinance


On June 1, following almost two years of public consultations and legislative contemplation, Hong Kong’s

telecommunications industry regulator, the Office of the Telecommunications Authority (OFTA) brought into

force the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Ordinance (the Ordinance). As its name implies, the Ordinance is

aimed at addressing the ever increasing volume of unsolicited commercial messages received every day by email

accounts, phones and fax machines in Hong Kong.


The Ordinance seeks to regulate the sending of commercial electronic messages with a Hong Kong Link

(CEMHKLs). This core concept has three distinct elements which must all be present in order for the Ordinance to apply:

There must be an ‘‘electronic message.’’ This is defined in a very broad, technology neutral manner as a message sent in any form to an electronic address via any public telecommunications service. An ‘‘electronic address’’ is also very widely defined and includes telephone numbers as well as e-mail addresses, etc. Thus an ‘‘electronic message’’ will include e-mails, faxes, text (SMS) and multimedia (MMS) cellular messages and also pre-recorded telephone messages.

The message must be for a commercial purpose and for the furtherance of a business. This would include messages with a purpose of advertising, promoting, or offering any goods, services or business opportunities. The commercial purpose need not be the sole purpose of the message, but it

must exist—a message about an amateur sports event with no commercial purpose would not be covered by the Ordinance.

There must be a ‘‘Hong Kong Link.’’ Broadly, this means that the message must either (a) originate or be received in Hong Kong; (b) be sent by a Hong Kong business or company; or (c) be sent to a Hong Kong assigned electronic address (such as a Hong Kong telephone number or .hk e-mail


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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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