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An influential body of data protection experts could be about to recommend that Europe bans spam.

The Data Protection Working Party - made up of Data Protection Commissioners from all 15 member states of the European Union, including Britain's Elizabeth France - has now finalised its views on "unsolicited communications" following a lengthy review of the subject.

While its makes no concrete proposals, the tone of the document comes out against the practise of sending unsolicited emails claiming it "constitutes a specific form of privacy violation".

"The user has no human interface, supports the costs of the communication and normally receives spam within the protected area of his private home," records the working party.

"Not surprisingly consumers prefer solicited and targeted commercial communications instead of spam which is annoying, time consuming to read and to delete, and costs money. Nuisance caused by junk e-mailers undermines customer's confidence in e-commerce."

While not going the whole hog, it points out that a system that lets people choose whether they want to receive commercial email is perhaps more preferable to the alternatives.

It continues: "Opt-in is a well-balanced and efficient solution in order to remove obstacles to the provision of commercial communications whilst protecting the fundamental right of privacy of consumers.

The Working Party also points out that "most ISPs try
to filter out spam and have clauses in their contracts with subscribers that the latter shall not send or relay spam."

That is, of course, unless you're PSINet - which has admitted it takes money off spammers to send unsolicited commercial mail. Which is nice. ®

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