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Businesses are in the dark over anti-spam laws, with 83 per cent ignorant of legislation aimed at stopping junk emails, a new survey has revealed. The research, conducted by software firm Clearswift, found that although just 16 per cent of businesses were aware of laws against spam, a massive 92 per cent felt current rules were not tough enough to stop unwanted emails.

The UK government introduced anti-spam measures last year, after complaints from small firms that their productivity was being hampered by junk email clogging up their inboxes. Although ministers banned unsolicited emails and text messages, the laws only apply to senders within Britain - a significant problem as most spam originates from the USA.

The Clearswift report follows recent research which revealed that many small firms need to do much more to stop spam and computer viruses crippling their businesses. The survey revealed that many firms are flouting the laws themselves by using direct email marketing. Nearly half sent unsolicited emails to potential customers, with just 16 per cent fully understanding the implications of breaking anti-spam rules.

Alyn Hockey, director of research at Clearswift, said that a more co-ordinated approach was needed to help stamp out spam: "It is clear there needs to be greater education on spam legislation by governments around the world, as businesses are on the one hand complaining about the problem of spam, but at the same time, appear to be contributing to the problem themselves because of ignorance.

"While Clearswift believes anti-spam legislation can be strengthened, if organisations became more aware of the current laws they would contribute to reducing the spam problem," she concluded.

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