EU members ignore spam directive

Eight EU countries, including France and Germany, have yet to implement the EU anti-spam directive, six months after the official deadline

The EU's anti-spam directive, which was passed in July 2003, has been ignored by most EU member states because it will not stop the spam problem, according to research published by the Institute of Information Law (IvIR) at the InfoSecurity exhibition in London on Tuesday.

In its directive on privacy and electronic communications, the EU last year stipulated that all member countries should implement a localised version of the Directive by 31 October, 2003. However, six months after the deadline, more than half of the EU's members have not yet complied.

Lodewijk Asscher, head of research at IvIR, said that although the directive is a step in the right direction, it gives member states too much power over how the law can be interpreted and has no control over spam originating from overseas.

"Is this going to stop spam? No, not at all. The legal approach is only part of the solution and it will take years. There is a spam axis-of-evil -- which includes the US, China and South Korea -- and EU law isn't going to help us there," he said.

In December 2003 and on 1 April, 2004, the EU sent warning letters to the offending countries, which include Germany, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Greece, Portugal, Luxembourg and Finland. Asscher said that he expects further action to be taken if the offending countries have not implemented specific spam laws by June.