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The Government's legal attempt to crack down on email spam and unwanted phone calls has been condemned as a recipe for disaster that will hit law abiding UK businesses much harder than the spammers it is trying to stop.

According to hi-tech industries' trade association Intellect, the increased costs of managing and storing data in accordance with the legislation will shift resources away from core business activities and make it mharder for new companies to get started.

John Higgins, Intellect Director General, said he recognises the need for data protection, But he also "firmly believes that the new regulations have the potential to do more harm to law abiding businesses than to the spammers we are attempting to stop.

"Regardless of whether all UK firms comply with the new regulations, inboxes will still fill up with spam, because most of it is sent from afar, safe from the UK Information Commissioner's reach."

Intellect has, with Masons Solicitors, devised a checklist to help UK firms to comply with the new laws.

It offers advice including urging companies to understand what is and is not 'solicited'. "You will have to comply with the Act with respect to these communications but not to the bulk of the regulations," Intellect said.

Additionall,y firms are encouraged to ensure that all marketing e-mails contain an "unsubscribe" bottom which clearly labels the service to which it applies. They such also examine any legacy data to see if prior consent is needed to continue with use.

Intellect said that it is important to remember the British Code of Advertising, Sales, Promotion and Direct Marketing ("CAP Code), which may apply to marketing activities as well as the new Act and the regulations.

Companies would do well to make sure IT systems can suppress marketing materials quickly to those who have opted out, as the checklist notes that the Information Commissioner has targeted this as an important area for enforcement action.

The full Intellect checklist is here. ®

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