D4C5CE writes "EuroCAUCE (Usenet message below) and Heise (in German) report that the European Parliament has voted to ban spam by adopting the "opt-in" system for unsolicited commercial email, finally freeing the way for the entry into force of a "European Parliament and Council directive concerning the processing of personal data and the protection of privacy in the electronic communications sector". The news of the parliamentary U-turn comes after a recommendation by the "Committee on Citizens' Freedoms and Rights, Justice and Home Affairs" to permit "opt-out" marketing had received critical coverage, causing countless spam victims world-wide to alert the Members of the European Parliament to the big mistake they were about to make, and it is hoped to become the useful precedent of a workable approach for US lawmakers currently evaluating means to regulate spam as well." The Parliament's daily notebook has an overview. Individual EU countries still have to implement this with legislation before it is effective.
From: Beebit <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Newsgroups: news.admin.net-abuse.email, talk.politics.european-union
Subject: European Parliament Supports 'Opt-In' for Commercial Email
Date: Thu, 30 May 2002 13:08:11 +0200
The European Parliament has decided to accept the Council's Common Position which would require senders of advertisements by "electronic mail" to have the recipient's prior consent. "Electronic mail" is defined broadly enough so as to include text messaging systems based on mobile telephony in addition to email.
The 'opt-in' requirement for electronic mail will be in Article 13, Paragraph 1 of the new Directive concerning the processing of personal data and the protection of privacy in the electronic communications sector which will enter into force following its publication in the Official Journal. The Directive will guide the enactment of legislation throughout the European Economic Area, which includes the 15 EU Member States and European Free Trade Association members Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein. EU Members Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, and Italy as well as EFTA member Norway had already implemented 'opt-in' in their national legislation.
Further provisions in the same Article would allow companies to send advertising via email for their own products or services of a similar category to addresses which they had obtained in the course of a sale, unless and until the customer has registered an objection. Customers are to be given the opportunity to object "free of charge and in an easy manner" both at the time the contact details are collected and with each advertising message.
All in all, is an extremely welcome development, and should serve as an example and inspiration for legislators in other territories. We are absolutely delighted to see Parliament joining the Commission and the Council in taking a stand to protect European consumers and network users. It only remains to extend similar protection to corporate citizens. This will probably have to be within the framework of other legislation than that pertaining to the processing of "personal data".
The European Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial Email is an all-volunteer, ad-hoc grouping of Internet users and professionals dedicated to bringing about an end to an unethical practice by technical and legislative means. http://www.euro.cauce.org/en/