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Ireland May Toughen Spam Laws

by Robin Pilgrim,, London

28 November 2003

Speaking before the Seanad on Wednesday, Ireland's Communications Minister, Dermot Ahern revealed that he is considering increasing the penalties for those who send spam e-mails and text messages.

Currently, offenders face fines of 3,000 euros per message sent. However, under the proposals being considered by Mr Ahern, spammers could receive a custodial sentence if convicted.

He went on to add that with regard to continuing to crack down on the sending of unsolicited commercial e-mail and text messages, which are estimated to cost Irish businesses in the region of 2 billion euros per year:

"I believe that Ireland's forthcoming presidency of the EU offers an excellent opportunity to further progress international co-operation and effective enforcement."

This follows the signing into law earlier this month by Mr Ahern of the European Communities (Electronic Communications Networks and Services) (Data Protection and Privacy) Regulations 2003, which implements the EU's new Privacy and Electronic Communications Directive.

The regulations contain provisions regulating the use of cookies and spyware, impose restrictions on unsolicited direct marketing by phone, fax, e-mail, or SMS, and allow subscribers listed in freely available directories to specify what personal information is listed.

The new rules also require that subscribers listed in public directories are informed as to how their data can be accessed and used, and stipulate that mobile location data can only be used with an individual's consent.

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