UK spam campaigner to help Europe fight back

Anti-spam guru Steve Linford is to advise the European Commission on how to ban spam in Europe
Written by Dan Ilett, Contributor

A UK based anti-spam organisation is to advise legal officials at the European Commission on new legislation to block junk email.

Spamhaus, which already advises the DTI and several other governments on anti-spam policies, was consulted by the EC to help improve its laws on banning spam. Steve Linford, director of Spamhaus, said on Monday he wants to see Europe adopt a similar version of the Australian anti-spam law.

"The [Australian] prime minister said he was going to come down on spammers like a ton of bricks," said Linford. "We are recommending that Europe uses the Australian law as a template. That's the best one so far. It's working because it penalises spammers."

Under the Australian Anti-Spam Act 2003, spammers can be fined up to AUS $1.1m (£446,000) per day for sending spam. Linford, who advised Australia on its law, said that Spamhaus saw a direct effect on spam in the country after the law was implemented.

"The moment they brought it in, we noticed a decline in spam from Australia," said Linford. "The notorious Australian spammers have disappeared and the most famous even relocated to Indonesia. A couple of months later our stats gave us the feeling that spam had disappeared. The Australian Communications Authority was very pleased."

Linford added that the Australian government was also pushing other countries to use its law as a template. But the Department of Trade and Industry had frowned on the idea of fining spammers, he said. "There was a reluctance to implement any penalty. The DTI is still of the opinion that British industry wants spam."

Britain's implementation of the EU Privacy and Electronics Communication Directive allows spammers to send unsolicited junk email to businesses. Those who break the law by spamming consumers could face a £5,000 fine, but the Information Commissioner -- whose office must enforce the law -- is said to have insufficient powers.

Back in June, Linford warned that the UK's anti-spam legislation was actually encouraging junk emails to move into Britain. He also revealed that Spamhaus had received threats of legal action from some of these spammers.

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