MPs backtrack on US anti-spam demands

Link: Spam takes over inboxes

Earlier this month members of APIG traveled to Washington to persuade Congress to model anti-spam laws on the EU’s Privacy and Electronic Communications directive.

This works on the opt-in principle and bans companies sending unsolicited emails unless a person says they want it.

But now APIG members who visited Washington say identical legislation is not needed.

The majority of anti-spam bills being debated by the US Congress – such as the Can Spam bill – favour opt-out measures.

This places the onus on the recipient to say they do not want spam. It has been passed by the Senate and is expected to form the basis of US federal anti-spam legislation.

APIG treasurer Brian White MP, said the group now believes existing UK laws will tackle the menace, aided by closer ties with US law enforcement agencies and trade organisations.

‘We found it a useful trip and the representatives we met understand the issues. We talked to the FBI, Federal Trade Commission as well as Internet Service Providers. The decision was not to get involved in an argument over legislation but to find a way of working together,’ White said.

Existing UK laws such as the Computer Misuse Act and anti-terrorist laws can stop US spammers, White said: ‘We are not going to get mirror legislation but rather than worrying about legislative matches, the outcome will be the same with the UK and US enforcement agencies working together cross border.’

He added: ‘We must stop thinking of spam as an irritant and think of it as a threat. Spammers are using hacker techniques such as viral software, which breaks the Computer Misuse Act. We would ask for extradition if they broke the law here.’

Steve Linford, founder of spam monitoring organisation Spamhaus was unconvinced extradition and suing would work, but said he would be happy to test the water.

‘Let’s try it. If APIG believes this is possible I will speak to them after the directive becomes law in December. As long as someone funds the case we will be the first to sue,’ Linford said.

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