Commission clamps down on spam

Governments, regulators and ISPs told to step up fight against spamming

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By  Published  December 8, 2006

The European Commission has launched a mass crackdown on spam saying it has become a major source of criminal activity.

The commission has called on governments, regulators, internet service providers (ISPs) and businesses to step up their fight against spam as well as against spyware and malicious software.

Viviane Reding, the Commissioner for Information Society and Media, said she wanted all countries to follow the example of Holland where the Dutch authorities have managed to cut spam by 85%.

“I’d like to see other countries achieving similar results through more efficient enforcement,” she told CNet.

“I will revisit this issue again next year to see whether additional legislative measures against spam are required,” Reding added.

According to the commissioner, spam has gone from merely being a nuisance to being a major “conduit of criminal activity” which is damaging legitimate online services.

She pointed to the fact that spam e-mails can contain links to phishing sites which can be used to trick users into revealing confidential personal data.

Although there are legislative tools to fight these threats, such as the ePrivacy Directive which contains a ban on spam, implementation of this is not as strong as it should be in some EU member states, the Commission admitted.

According to the Commission, governments should create clear policies for the use of these legislative tools against spam, and police across the different EU member states should form more effective cross-border relationships.

It has also urged ISPs to apply strong filtering policies which stop spam from reaching users’ inboxes.

The Commission said that in order to fight spam it would continue to work with non-EU member states which are prolific spam senders.

The Commission also pledged to re-examine the legislative framework designed to fight spam when it introduces security and privacy legislation proposals in 2007.

The proposals include making service providers obliged to tell regulators of any security breach incidents which lead to loss of personal data or interruptions to service supply.

National regulators would then have the power to ensure that operators implement adequate security policies.

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