TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: EU Commission Urges Members to Fight Against Spam, Internet Fraud

EU Commission Urges Members to Fight Against Spam, Internet Fraud

Sabina Zawadzki (
Mon, 27 Nov 2006 13:25:09 -0600

By Sabina Zawadzki

European Union countries are doing too little to enforce EU rules
banning unsolicited emails, or spam, which are becoming increasingly
fraudulent and criminal, the European Commission said on Monday.

Spam accounts for as much as 80 percent of the content in an inbox
in Europe, some of which are emails that lure recipients into giving
away personal financial details.

The Commission said a 2002 EU law against spam should be enough
legislation for now, but that member states still needed to step up
the fight against such emails.

In a report, it urged national regulators, governments and industry to
work together more efficiently to combat the problem.

"What we need to beef up in the European Union (is) our enforcement
activities and that requires in particular well-equipped national
regulators," Commission spokesman Martin Selmayr told journalists.

The Commission will revisit the issue next year to see whether more
laws are needed, he said.

EU countries should follow the lead of the Netherlands which has cut
locally generated spam by 85 percent since 2003, thanks to the work of
just four full-time staff at an anti-spam agency and 570,000 euros
($748,600) in investment, Selmayr said. Netherlands puts spammers in

Finland reduced spam to 30 percent of emails received, down from 80
percent in 2003, by applying filtering policies and assuring good online
commercial practices. They also are agressive in their actions.

In other countries, the cost of spam is huge -- 3.5 billion euros a
year in Germany and 1.9 billion euros in Britain. Globally, spam costs
39 billion euros, according to U.S.-based Ferris Research in 2005.

"From a mere nuisance, unsolicited email has become increasingly
fraudulent and criminal in nature," the EU executive said in its

It said governments should lay down clear responsibilities for
regulators, ensure they have the resources to do their job and help
out in cross-border investigations.

The paper called for email services suppliers to apply a filtering
policy and for the industry to inform customers better of the dangers
and software solutions.

An existing EU agency, the European Network and Information Security
Agency (ENISA), could co-ordinate the collection of data detailing
security incidents, the Commission said.

The Commission will also increase cooperation with non-EU countries,
including the United States from where the EU receives the most amount
of spam. The Commission has asked pointedly, "Why hasn't the USA done
more to get tough with spammers and fraud email?"

Copyright 2006 Reuters Limited.

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