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EU attacks anti-spam industry

Junk mail tsunami continues unabated

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A senior European Union official has berated the anti-spam industry for failure to agree a common strategy. Philippe Gerard, an official with the EC's Information Society directorate, said that lack of co-operation is handicapping the fight to hold back the junk mail tsunami.

"We see different initiatives going in all different directions and the effectiveness is maybe not there," Gerard told an anti-spam meeting in London. Spam is affecting consumer confidence, he said.

His comments come at the same time as new stats from email filtering firm MessageLabs. It reports that May 2004 is the worst month for spam on record. Of the 909m inbound emails scanned by the MessageLabs Anti-Spam service, 691.5m were intercepted as spam - 76 per cent.

Two years ago the EU passed a framework directive outlawing many spamming practices; but there has been a lack of consistency in the anti-spam laws enacted by European states. The US's CAN-SPAM Act takes a different tack again. So politicians and civil servants are not exactly on strong ground when attacking the anti-spam providers for lack of consistency.

A multi-faceted attack on spam combining technology with legislation against spammers and user education is needed to clamp down on spam. Get past the hype (not easy) and most vendors will admit that the anti-spam industry is in its infancy. It's therefore no surprise that a number of different approaches (gateway appliance, filtering at the desktop, managed services, etc.) have been developed to tackle junk mail. Likewise discussions about modifying protocols to make it easier to identify and reject spam traffic are not such a bad thing. ®

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