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UK Anti-Spam Law Needs To Plug Its Holes

Microsoft smashed a civil suit against a UK spammer for violating Hotmail terms and conditions. Microsoft overlooked criminal anti-spam laws and went for a court settlement with the spammer.

Mr. Paul Thomas of Microsoft said that Mr. Fox's method of spamming was sophisticated and widespread. He was found to escape 70 Hotmail 'spam traps' and distribute 250 e-mails per day. The spam was tracked by assessing the body message and header information of the e-mail along with the URL and website connected with it.

In 2003, the anti-spam directive of the European Union became a law in UK. However, no prosecution has come up so far. This is not due to slipping of any unsolicited e-mail but because the law has still not qualified to be enforceable.

From one aspect, the court settlement with which Microsoft is involved and values 45,000 pounds is a definite action. But that Microsoft splurges a massive expenditure to chase a civil case, to take action against a prospering spammer, seems to be a mockery of the UK law and government's promise to defeat Internet scam. A UK businessman Nigel Roberts had made a personal case against marketing group Media Logistics at the end of 2005. This is up till now the only notable case in the country that has ended in a fine of 300 pounds.

The UK anti-spam legislation has some shortcomings. The laws mostly aim at spam control rather than to deal with the general problem of spam. Laws that are self-regulated through codes of practice have visible limitations. Since all individuals and enterprises are not necessarily members of relevant associations, they are not bound by the codes of practice. Since there is an overall lack of awareness regarding the industry , they can decide not to imbibe best practice.

If spam is handled with technical solutions it can result in significant reduction in its level. The solution is still an imperfect one because it does not effectively lessen spam volume on the Internet prior to its reaching the recipients' ISP.

With growing public concern and cost to economy, it is time to have specific anti-spam legislation.

Related article: US Passes Baton to Asia in Spam Relay

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