01 June 1998

TORY MP for Mid-Dorset Christopher Fraser is pressing the government to act on the mushrooming menace of junk faxes. He is sponsoring an Unsolicited Facsimile Messages bill that would prohibit the multiple transmission of unsolicited marketing faxes without recipients' prior consent. [Present legislation requires recipients of such faxes to opt-out by writing to each company responsible for their transmission - often impossible as addresses are not given.] Fraser says that an increasing number of people are angered by the nuisance, especially those with a phone/fax at home: 'Messages are often sent in the middle of the night and wake people with a telephone by their bed. Some contain quite offensive material.' Although the bill stands no chance of becoming law, it could be a decisive influence on ministers as they consider how to implement a European directive that covers unsolicited faxes. The DTI has to decide whether they should be subject to an opt-in or opt-out clause.