Fight against spam hots up

Linx is calling for the government’s information commissioner Richard Thomas to be given the powers necessary to take spam offenders to court.

‘We want to see action taken. We want the information commissioner to be given whatever powers it takes to make an example of somebody,’ said Malcolm Hutty, a spokesman for Linx.

He said the past three years have seen only five individuals face penalties for spam offences.

Phil Jones, an assistant commissioner at the UK Data Protection Authority, said there was a ‘clear need’ to look at the information commissioner’s enforcement powers and ensure they are speedy enough to make them of any use against an increasingly professional spam industry.

‘The hope is that the DTI will clearly accept there is a need for this,’ he told Accountancy Age, before saying that he believed it would.

But he went on to note an air of caution, saying that the battle cannot be won through regulation alone. ‘There is a need for broad efforts across industry to try and minimise the effects of spam,’ he said.

Meanwhile Microsoft intends to partner with industry, government and law enforcement agencies to combat the threat.

According to the Redmond giant, spam now accounts for more than half of all email traffic globally and last year cost European companies more than €2.5bn (£1.7bn) in lost productivity.

‘Spam is one of the most serious problems facing customers today, and we have a responsibility as an industry leader to help people address the issue and restore confidence and utility in email,’ said Jean-Philippe Courtois, president and chief executive of Microsoft EMEA.

‘We firmly believe that to truly address this problem requires a co-ordinated approach that includes technology, industry self-regulation, strong legislation and targeted enforcement against illegal spammers,’ he said.

But according to Hutty, we will always be playing catch-up to the spammers. ‘It’s like an arms race,’ he said. ‘The spammers get ahead and then we catch up. Hopefully these initiatives will allow us to catch up again.’


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