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Spam & spyware

Commission wants enforcement of spam-ban

19 July, 2003

The European Commission is planning to issue a Communication this autumn calling for effective enforcement of the spam-ban, EU Commissioner Erkki Liikanen said during a press conference yesterday.

Action would focus on effective enforcement, notably through international cooperation, technical measures for countering spam, and consumer awareness. The proposed measures would be first tested with Member States and interested parties through a workshop to be convened in October.

Liikanen underlined the necessity for international cooperation both within the EU and with third countries.

Answers to EU questionnaire on spam

19 June, 2003

During the last meeting of the EU Communication Committee on 11 June, a document was presented with answers of the member states to the questionnaire on spam. The same document was also presented next day to the members of the article 29 working party (the collaboration between the EU data protection authorities). The questionnaire was developed by the European Commission to find out what problems member states might incur when implementing the spam-ban decreed by the new Directive on Privacy in the Telecommunications Sector.

The answers show a great variety in approach when it comes to awareness raising, complaints mechanisms and judicial remedies and penalties. The new privacy directive raises a number of complex issues.

Trial of Nigerian spammers in the Netherlands

21 May, 2003

A gang of 6 Nigerian spammers was put to trial on 15 May. The gang was arrested last year in the Netherlands. Operating from Amsterdam the group posed as very rich businessmen from Nigeria. Victims were promised a lot of money in exchange for a temporary loan.

The Dutch police estimates the gang earned at least 4 million euro's. The most spectacular victim of the gang, a Swiss professor, transferred almost half a million euro. The money was necessary to buy chemicals to clean banknotes with a total value of 36 million US Dollars, the gang told the gullible professor. He was promised 25% of that amount.

The public prosecutor accused the Nigerians of swindle, participation in a criminal organisation and money-laundering.

Recommended reading

27 March, 2003

Did you ever wonder how spammers got your email address? According to new research by the USA-based Center for Democracy and Technology, publication of your email address on a website is the number one cause of getting a lot of spam. It definitely helps to disguise your address, such as replacing '' with 'somebody at domain dot eu'.

Why am I getting all this spam? (19.03.2003)

Update on anti-spam legislation

12 March, 2003

In the previous EDRI-gram 6 EU-countries were mentioned that already have a spam-ban, Denmark, Germany, Finland, Greece, Italy and Austria, plus Hungary and Norway in Europe-at-large. We can now add France, Romania and Poland to this list.

French E-Commerce Directive (approved 26.02.2003 in the Lower House)

Polish E-commerce Directive (effective 10.03.2003)

Romanian E-commerce Directive (effective 05.10.2002)

Since 22 January Romanians can report spam via 2 special email addresses provided by the Ministry of ICT. In Romania the Ombudsman functions as data protection authority. Either he or the Ministry can fine spammers between 10.000.000 and 500.000.000 million lei (approx 280 and 14.000 euro).

EU questionnaire on spam-ban

26 February, 2003

Per 31 October 2003 spamming will be prohibited in all EU member states, but it is completely unclear what authority should supervise the spam-ban. The European Commission doesn't have a ready-made answer, and is currently asking privacy-authorities and telecommunications ministries what approach they prefer.

The new Privacy Directive prohibits the sending of unsolicited e-mail but doesn't regulate the practicalities of penalties, damage claims or prosecution of cross-border violations. To make matters even more complicated, the Directive leaves the level of privacy protection of legal persons up to member states. Therefore, in some countries all e-mail addresses will be protected, in other states the spam-ban is limited to natural persons. On top of that, the directive bans commercial spam, but does allow for a ban on all unsolicited electronic communications, including those for charity and political purposes.

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