Nigeria, which has global notoriety as a base for criminals exploiting the reach of the Internet, is considering making spamming a criminal offense that could land senders of unsolicited e-mails in jail for three years. "Any person spamming electronic messages to recipients with whom he has no previous relationship commits an offense," said the text of the draft law presented to the legislature this week.
A person found guilty risks either at least three years in jail, a fine equal to US$3,500 (about Ђ3,000), or both.
The bill must be approved by a simple majority of lawmakers to become law.
Africa's most populous country is know for its "advance fee" scamsters, criminals scouting for victims by sending millions of unsolicited e-mails with false proposals around the world.
Among the most common are e-mails proposing to share portions of dead African dictators' ill-gotten estates in exchange for an advance payment to help move the money overseas. The scammers keep the "fees" while victims receive nothing.
The proposed law specifically identifies use of computers for spamming, fraud, identity theft, child pornography and terrorism as criminal offenses punishable by stiff jail terms and fines, the AP says.
President Olusegun Obasanjo, whose election in 1999 ended more than 15 years of corrupt military rule in oil-rich Nigeria, has made the fight against corruption and financial crime in the country a key plank of his government now in its second four-year term.