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The European Parliament has voted to ban the sending of unsolicited commercial email.

The new European directive should be in place some time next year and would mean that people will have to "opt in" or ask to receive commercial email.

The vote also overturned proposals to introduce severe restrictions on the use of cookies.

The new legislation means that cookies may be used but only if the user is provided with adequate information beforehand.

EuroISPA - which represents ISPs - has welcomed today's vote claiming that the ban represents "the most effective way of combating unwanted mail".

However, sceptics have pointed out that the new legislation will have little impact on the amount of spam people receive since much of it originates from outside the EU.

Anti-spam software outfit, Brightmail, says the legislation only affects European registered companies and they're unlikely to flout the legislation.

However, it claims nine out of ten spam emails are either untraceable or come from operations outside the European Union.

Either way, professional spammers - whether inside or outside the EU - are unlikely to heed the new legislation.

So in effect, this new law will make bugger all difference to the amount of spam we get in Europe.

Which is not nice. ®

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