Anti-spam legislation will not be used to curb freedom of speech, the government said yesterday. The government intends to pass a law to fight the avalanche of unsolicited electronic messages - not hinder freedom of speech, Marion Lai Chan Chi-kuen, deputy secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology told the Legislative Council's information technology and broadcasting panel. 'It is absolutely not the intention of the government [to thwart freedom of speech],' Mrs Lai said in response to lawmaker Albert Cheng King-hon's question about whether the government would use the legislation to curtail freedom of speech. 'The government has always protected and defended freedom of speech. Therefore, we will take a cautious approach when drafting the legislation.' Mr Cheng, the panel vice-chairman, jokingly asked at the end of the meeting whether an email asking people to march on July 1 would be considered an unsolicited electronic message. Mrs Lai said the legislation would prevent the city from becoming a safe haven for illicit spammers. It would also enhance co-operation against spammers with overseas counterparts with similar legislation. Ninety-five per cent of unsolicited electronic messages came from overseas, she said. The government would consider whether the legislation should cover only commercial or all unsolicited electronic messages. 'Some people think non-commercial unsolicited electronic messages are also a nuisance to them, so we definitely will look into them,' Mrs Lai said. The government planned to introduce the anti-spam bill into Legco next year. It will be among a basket of measures planned to tackle the junk messages sent using the internet, mobile phone networks and fax machines.