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Europe gives green light to spam

Junk emailers have their day, thanks to Euro vote

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European politicians have voted to legalise spam. The decision is a victory for small-minded people with no real understanding of how the Net works and is another crushing blow for Internauts in Europe. The European Internet Service Providers Association (EuroISPA), which has campaigned tirelessly to sway opinion, has expressed bitter disappointment at the news. Ironically, no one spoke in favour of spam during the debate yesterday, although UK Liberal MEP, Graham Watson, made an impassioned speech calling for the European Parliament to ban unsolicited emails. Despite this, it was given the backing of the European Parliament yesterday by 266 votes to 137. MEPs in Strasbourg also voted to legitimise spam through the use of national opt-out lists creating a bureaucratic nightmare for Net users. The proposal requires customers to register themselves on national lists if they do not want to receive unsolicited email. Until they do so, spammers are free to send them junk email willy-nilly. Useless opt-outs "The opt-out list for unsolicited phone calls and faxes has already run into difficulties in the UK due to the huge time delay between registration on the lists and when consumers can hope to stop receiving junk faxes/calls," said Jean-Christophe Le Toquin from EuroISPA. "Also, opt-out lists have proven useless over and over again in the US, this is hardly a step forward and will not inspire confidence in electronic commerce," he said. Perhaps more disappointing still was the decision not to ban the "harvesting" of email addresses from online services such as message boards and Web sites. Harvesting lets companies create huge email lists from online sources at almost no cost. "As long as harvesting is permitted, junk emailers will have a ready supply of cheap mailing lists," said Le Toquin. ® See also: Anti-spammers petition European Parliament Euro blighters block anti-spam fighters Anti-spam campaign gathers momentum Anti-caching lobby wins round one of Euro vote

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