US should follow EU lead on spam – MPs

Let's co-operate

The US should follow Europe's lead against spam, according to an eagerly awaited report published today by the All Party Parliamentary Internet Group (APIG).

With half of all email sent today estimated to be spam, APIG's enquiry concludes that tackling unsolicited commercial email is a global issue.

"We recommend to the US Congress that they adopt an anti-spam law that is modelled as closely as possible along the lines of the European Directive on Privacy and Electronic Communications," said the parliamentary group in its report.

Although it accepts there could be some resistance from the US, APIG feels "very strongly that the advantages of having a consistent set of laws between
Europe and the USA (and also with Australia who are moving towards a European style scheme) would have huge advantages for everyone."

This conclusion comes ahead of a trip by APIG to the US to try and convince legislators on Capitol Hill to align its laws more closely with those in Europe. However, one European politician has already warned that APIG faces an up hill battle to get its views heard.

Still, the view of those who submitted evidence to the enquiry appears to be one of cautious optimism. "If" the USA was to make spamming illegal then those "professional" spammers who are currently resident in the USA would go "off-shore". In fact, there's evidence to suggest that this might even be happening already with some operating from China.

"However, if Europe and the USA were to have consistent laws then there would be considerable pressure on other parts of the world to also fall into line," said the report.

Said APIG chairman Derek Wyatt MP in a statement: "It is essential that co-ordinated global action be taken against spam. I hope that this report can help build international support for both legislative and technical measures to deal with spam."

However, there are some who just aren't convinced that workable legislation can be introduced.

Despite calls for international cooperation, the UK's own approach to spam has not been universally welcomed. One industry remarked that the UK's anti-spam was "toothless" and would "do nothing to stop spam in the UK".

APIG's report [PDF] can be found on its Web site here. ®

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