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The UK government began consultations on strengthening laws to prohibit spamming today.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)-led consultation will focus on how to write measures outlined in the European Union's Electronic Communication Data Protection Directive into British law.

The consultation marks the first step in creating UK anti-spam laws which will mandate following the opt-in principle for all email and SMS marketing. This will technically ban the sending of unsolicited bulk e-mail / spam, without prior approval.

UK legislative process is beginning as US State governments are toughening up their current anti-spam laws.

Twenty-six US states have anti-spam laws today, anti-spam filtering firm Brightmail reports.

As the public problem with spam grows, several states are adapting their laws to give individuals the
power to sue spammers. Currently, this power tends to be reserved only for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and the State District Attorney. States also are considering proposals to increase fines for sending spam.

In California, a new bill would allow recipients of unsolicited bulk commercial email to sue senders for $500 for each piece of email received.

The bill would also give Californian judges the ability to triple the fine if they find that the sender knowingly violated the ban. This bill is now passing through California's legislature, while in Indiana a similar law is on the verge of being signed into law by the State Governor.

US and UK proposals under final consultation send out a clear, tough message to US and UK companies about how their e-mail marketing should be conducted.

But while tougher laws are welcome, their effect on spam volumes is questionable. That's because the vast majority of spam is generated offshore and the senders are untraceable.

According to Brightmail, spam accounts for 42 per cent of the email sent to the 250 million email boxes it monitors. It advocates a multi-pronged approach involving user education, technology and tough regulations to push bac the spam Tsunami.

The DTI' consultation also includes plans to control the use of cookies and other tracking devices on Web sites. More info here. Deadline for submissions is June 19. ®

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