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UK Introduces New Legislation To Criminalize Spam

by Robin Pilgrim, LawAndTax-News.com, London

22 September 2003


Following the introduction of new legislation on Thursday, the United Kingdom became the second country in Europe to criminalize spam.

Under the terms of the UK's implementation of the EU Privacy and Electronics Communications Directive, from December 11, spammers will be subject to £5,000 fines, to be levied by the Information Commissioner. UK companies will only be permitted to send commercial e-mails to existing customers, or those who have expressed an interest in their product or service.

However, the new British rules do not protect workplace e-mail addresses, an ommission which has disappointed many. According to the Department of Trade and Industry, this is designed to protect 'legitimate business to business communication'.

In a statement, Communications Minister, Stephen Timms announced that:

'These regulations will help combat the global nuisance of unsolicited e-mails and texts by enshrining in law rights that give consumers more say over who can use their personal details.'

However, Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas has criticised the legislation for not going far enough.

'I am pleased at the DTI's commitment to review the enforcement powers of my office, but am disappointed that it has not been possible to introduce new powers from the outset,' he announced, continuing: 'I am calling for stronger powers to allow my office to take swifter action where necessary.'


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