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A European committee has blocked plans to outlaw unsolicited commercial email dealing a major blow to anti-spam supporters.

An amendment tabled by UK Labour MEP and former Eastenders soap star, Michael Cashman, was adopted by the Citizens' Rights and Freedoms, Justice and Home Affairs Committee earlier today.

It means that Commission-backed proposals to introduce Europe-wide legislation forcing e-marketeers to seek the permission of consumers before they send out commercial emails have been dropped.

Although this change has still to be passed by a full meeting of the European parliament in September it's expected to be given the green light unchallenged.

The news has come as bitter disappointment to Joe McNamee of the European Internet Service Providers Association (EuroISPA) who has lobbied for a ban on spam for the last two years.

And he's warned that this decision could jeopardise other legislation that plans to limit the length of time ISPs hang on to data.

In a separate initiative the Council of Ministers wants to impose on ISPs strict data retention laws in their fight to tackle online crime online, something the European Parliament is reportedly against.

However, according to McNamee: "There is a grave danger that, by taking a weak stance on consumer protection regarding spam, there is a substantial danger that this will damage the Parliament's credibility regarding the Council of Minister's proposals on increased data retention." ®

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