Parliamentarians from Britain’s governing Labour Party are accusing the US of failing to counter the threat posed by spam emails.
Derek Wyatt, chairman of the parliamentary internet committee and Labour MP for Sittingbourne and Sheppey, is warning that unless the US government takes action, the web could slow to a standstill within a year.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has scheduled a world summit on the subject for late 2004, but Wyatt fears this could be too late. He and other Labour MPs hope to organise their own meeting of government representatives from around the globe in spring next year.
Wyatt argues that the problem has become so acute because US politicians have failed to take action. The European Union has already passed a measure forcing advertisers to seek permission from consumers before sending emails, but the US has been reluctant to impose a similar scheme.
“They keep saying forcing customers to opt in would be against their constitution, but they need to realise this is a world problem and not just a US problem,” he blasted. “Unless the US plays ball, I think servers around the world will start to pack up by February.”
Wyatt is particularly unhappy with Florida governor and presidential sibling Jeb Bush. The parliamentarian claims Bush has failed to clamp down on unwanted email using existing law. Some 200 of the world’s worst spammers are said to be based in Florida’s Boca Raton, the reputed source of 50 million emails a minute.
Wyatt and a delegation of MPs will next month head to Washington to argue their point – the first time British politicians have appeared before a US constitutional hearing.
Data sourced from: MediaGuardian.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff