UK government urged to give spam the boot

There is just over a week left to register your views on the government's plan to cut spam down to size
Written by Graeme Wearden, Contributor

The UK government has been urged to implement its proposed crackdown on spam, even though it is expected to have only a limited effect on the amount of unsolicited emails received by Internet users.

As ZDNet UK reported back in March, e-commerce minister Stephen Timms has proposed that UK companies will only be able to send unsolicited communications to customers who have already given their permission.

This plan -- under which people will still need to opt out of receiving spam emails and SMSs from companies they have an existing relationship with -- is the British government's preferred way of implementing the EU directive on Privacy and Electronic Communication.

A consultation on Timms' proposals has been running since March, and is due to close on 19 June.

Some observers have claimed that they will have little effect, as the majority of unsolicited email -- which now makes up around 50 percent of email, according to some spam filtering companies -- is sent from outside Europe, where the directive will have no legal force.

But others in the industry believe that it is important for the government to take a firm line on the tricky issue of email marketing.

According to Phillip Singh, head of e-commerce at Experian Marketing Services, the EU directive will give a clear signal to the marketing industry as to how they should behave, and discourage them from abusing email.

"If we do not stop this issue then consumers will use other mediums to communicate and all the benefits of email will be lost," Singh said in a statement.

"While the Office of Information Commissioner may appear to have a tough time ahead enforcing it, the Directive, together the combination of legislation, technology, enforcement and consumer education with standards and best practices will help address this ever growing issue," Singh added.

Click here to register your views before the government's consultation closes on 19 June.

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