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First vote to stop unsolicited email fails

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Supporters of a Europe-wide anti-spam campaign have been dealt a massive body-blow today after a committee of European MPs voted to legalise unsolicited commercial email. According to an observer at today's meeting of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee (EMAC), Conservative MEPs voted against an amendment to ban spam while the Liberals and Greens voted in support of the ban. "I didn't see any Socialists voting one way or the other," said The Register's own Euro gravy train spotter. While the amendment adopted by EMAC said that people could ask for their names to be removed from distribution lists, it effectively called for the legalisation of unsolicited email. It also suggested that the text string #/# should be placed in the subject heading box to help users instantly recognise spam and even set filtering software to wheedle it out. Christian Persson, editor-in-chief of leading German IT magazine, c't, who is spearheading a European campaign to stamp out spam, was disappointed at the vote. "This is not good news," he said. "Neither do I believe this is the last word on this. We must strengthen our efforts and I urge everyone to sign our petition." The pressure group EuroISPA -- which has gained the backing of some MEPs -- is campaigning to ensure that all commercial email is requested rather than being sent on spec. A decision by the Legal Affairs Committee -- which will make the final decision before a full vote by the European parliament -- is expected in May. ® Related stories: c't magazine declares war on spam Anti-spam campaign gathers momentum

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