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Lobbyists for the European Internet industry believe their campaign for a ban on spam is gaining momentum.

At a public meeting yesterday to discuss the revised Telecommunications Data Protection Directive, attended by all sides of the unsolicited commercial email debate, there was an increased consensus about the need to do something about spam.

More and more organisations, including industry bodies and consumer groups, are beginning to understand the need to control spam.

This in marked contrast to a year ago when representatives of EuroISPA - the European body that lobbies on behalf of service providers - attended such meetings but were alone in their condemnation of spam.

While an outright ban on spam is plainly unworkable, there is growing support for an "opt-in" stance.

Said a EuroISPA spokesman: "Currently, unsolicited faxes and unsolicited calling systems are prohibited under existing legislation.

"It is difficult to see how email - where the cost of is borne by the recipient - can be excluded," he said.

In November, the Data Protection Working Party - made up of Data Protection Commissioners from all 15 member states of the European Union - pronounced that the practise of sending unsolicited emails constitutes a "specific form of privacy violation".

The working party reported that an "opt-in" proposal was 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". ®

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