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Doubts raised over MPs' anti-spam crusade

'Opt out' vs 'opt in'

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A bid by UK politicians to take their anti-spam message to the US later this month is likely to fall on deaf ears.

The All Party Parliamentary Internet Group (APIG) - which includes MPs Derek Wyatt, Brian White and Andrew Miller, and e-Envoy Andrew Pinder - is due to meet with Senators and officials in Washington DC between October 13 and 16 to discuss what can be done about unwanted junk email.

The MPs will meet their counterparts on Capitol Hill to seek out ways in which legislation in the EU, UK and US could be used to combat unsolicited emails.

In particular, they will be making the case for the US to consider an 'opt in' - rather than their current 'opt out' - approach to unsolicited commercial email.

New legislation soon to be adopted by the UK means that commercial operations must get permission from people before sending them emails. However, the US appears to favour an 'opt out' approach by which punters continue to receive spam unless they specifically ask not to be included on the list.

But Euro MP Malcolm Harbour has told The Register that the UK delegation can expect a difficult time on Capitol Hill.

As an MEP member of the European Internet Foundation, Mr Harbour visited Washington in July to meet Congressmen and discuss the issue of spam.

"The view on Capitol Hill as expressed to us is that it has already taken a long time for the problem to be recognised and for the need for legislation to be accepted at all," said Mr Harbour.

"However, the move to 'opt in' rather than 'opt out' appeared to have no support, and I was told by one Congressman that it would be quite unrealistic to expect a proposal like this to be approved," he told us.

APIG chairman, Derek White, has already acknowledged that the US and EU's view on spam is "philosophically different". ®

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