Anti-Spam organisation criticises EU proposal

The European Commission will not succeed in protecting consumers against unwanted e-mail with rules proposed in Brussels this week says a co-founder of the Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial E-mail (CAUCE).

The European Commission will not succeed in protecting consumers against unwanted e-mail with rules proposed in Brussels this week said Ray Everett-Church, a co-founder and counsel for the Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial E-mail (CAUCE), a US volunteer organisation.

The proposed so-called "Opt-out" registers are likely to have little if any effect on the flood of e-mail promoting pornography, get-rich-quick scams and products, according to Everett-Church, who professionally works as chief privacy officer at the Internet company

According to the proposal, all 15 member countries in the European Union will make a register available to consumers, in which they can register their preference not to receive unsolicited e-mail, and companies will be obliged to respect it.

If the rules, part of a revised framework for electronic commerce, are passed by the Council of Ministers later this year, all EU states will enact them.

The US experience with opt-out registers -- whether targeted at limiting direct mail, telemarketing or spam -- is not encouraging, according to Everett-Church.

"Take e-mail. It makes very little economic sense for the companies to use time in order to take people out of their list, when the cost of sending an e-mail is almost nothing," said Everett-Church.

Also, a large part of spam is attributed to companies operating on the "fringes of legality," doing all they can to avoid being traced and made accountable, Everett-Church said. "They will never use such a register."

The only effective way of protecting the consumers is to ban spam, just like unsolicited advertisements via fax are banned in the US, said Everett-Church. "Ignoring the ban costs a fine of between US$500 to $1,500 per fax received, and that helped stop the practice," he said.

However, the European Parliament voted no to a proposal banning spam in May: the vote was 137 to 266. (How individual members of the European Parliament voted can be seen at

In the U.S., about eight states have already passed laws limiting spam in various ways, and laws are pending in more than a dozen states, according to Everett-Church. He expects a federal law banning spam to be passed. "Several proposals are pending on Capitol Hill," he said.

The Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial Email can be found at CAUCE Counsel Attorney Ray Everett-Church can be reached at +1-510-576-6033. The EU’s web-site is at

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