Dutch urge ministers to boost battle against ‘spam’

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Series Details Vol.10, No.42, 2.12.04
Publication Date 02/12/2004
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Date: 02/12/04

By Peter Chapman

THE Dutch presidency wants ministers in EU member states to declare war on 'spam' and the growing number of email scams.

Economic Affairs Minister Laurens Jan Brinkhorst will deliver an anti-spam blueprint to next week's meeting of telecoms ministers calling for urgent coordinated action across the Union.

The Dutch paper will include demands to bring forward a planned review of an EU law covering spam to next year. The review was originally envisaged for 2006, but the Dutch warn that “we cannot afford to lose time”.

“The problem is increasing on us every day,” a Dutch paper seen by European Voice warns. “It is not only the amount of spam, but also the new threats in combination with spam, like 'phishing' and identity threat that make it necessary to act in a short time.”

Phishing is the technique used by fraudsters to send apparently genuine email messages purporting to be from organizations such as clients' own banks, requesting personal information or credit card details.

US reports reveal that 57 million Americans have received phishing emails, including fake loan scams and offers from fake online banks.

The review would examine ways to tackle vast differences between EU countries in approaches to spam which have persisted despite the entry into force last year of the directive on privacy and electronic communications.

The EU law is intended to force companies sending out commercial messages to obtain permission from would-be clients beforehand.

But the Dutch warn that “variety of implementation is large”.

Differences include the huge disparities in punishment for perpetrators of unsolicited spam. Some countries charge 145 euro per spam message, while some impose flat-rate administrative fines of up to 450,000 euro.

Other sanctions range from warnings, the termination of business, cessation orders and confiscation of IT equipment to prison.

In most of the US there are laws that allow companies to send messages unless recipients send back an 'opt-out' saying that they do not wish to receive them.

But criminal sanctions there help the battle against the spammers.

A court in Virginia recommended that a man described as an online 'snake oil salesman' be jailed for nine years after using an email scam to steal millions of dollars.

Article reports on an initiative by the Dutch EU Presidency against spam and e-mail scams including demands to bring forward a planned review of an EU law covering spam to 2005.

Source Link http://www.european-voice.com/
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