Global Economics

Brits May Have to Rework Anti-Spam Law


The UK government has admitted that it may be forced to strengthen the much-maligned anti-spam legislation introduced in 2003.

The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations came into force on 11 December 2003 but the legislation has been criticised by anti-spam campaigners and data protection watchdog the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).

The problem with the law is that while it bans the sending of spam to individuals, it does not stop spammers sending unsolicited junk emails to businesses.

The Department for Trade and Industry (DTI) claimed at the time that hundreds of UK businesses had backed this approach but a subsequent silicon.com investigation into the DTI's consultation revealed that just six organisations were in fact in favour of the "opt out" clause for businesses. The ICO also says the law does not give it enough powers to track down and prosecute spammers, especially when they originate from outside the UK. Under the legislation the ICO can only take enforcement action against UK-based spammers that can lead to a maximum fine of ?5,000 in the magistrates courts.

But Margaret Hodge, trade and industry minister, has now revealed that the government is finally considering bowing to pressure to change the flawed legislation.

She told MPs this week: "The government is actively considering whether to revise the relevant legislation. DTI officials have a continuing dialogue with internet service providers regarding steps that can be taken to reduce spam. We also continue our efforts to achieve greater international co-operation."

The DTI failed to respond to a request for comment.

Links:

Charles and me: Prince's Trust gives start-ups a chance

Breaking China: Tech trend-spotting in a burgeoning economy

Peter Cochrane's Blog: China's education in transition

Leader: Time for tougher spam laws


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