Spam Clampdown ‘A Priority’, EU Tells Members

17 July 2003

European Union officials are calling on member states to enforce new laws targeting spam emails.

Enterprise and information society commissioner Erkki Liikanen declared that policing the rules should be “a priority” and that guidelines on how to do so will be proposed later in the year.

Last year the European Commission passed legislation outlawing unsolicited commercial email from companies or individuals unless the receiver has given prior approval or there is an existing “commercial relationship” between the two. This law is due to enter member states’ statute books in the coming weeks before it comes into force across the Union on October 31.

However, the new rules leave national authorities to determine how severe punishments should be – for example, whether offenders should be sent to jail. Liikanen believes strict policing is vital to counter the surge of spam. “Despite its deterrent effect, adopting national legislation is not enough,” he commented. “Member states will have to make enforcement … a priority for them to prosecute wrongdoers.”

Spam, the commissioner complained, has grown from 7% of worldwide email traffic to 48% in only two years and has reached a stage “where it creates important costs for industry.”

Liikanen added that the EC plans to unveil legislation in the autumn on how to enforce the laws and coordinate them with schemes in the US and other regions. The EU’s ‘opt-in’ programme differs from stateside anti-spam proposals which require the receiver to opt out.

Data sourced from: multiple sources; additional content by WARC staff