HC Deb 03 December 2003 vol 415 c110W
Tim Loughton:

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what penalties will be available against persistent disseminators of spam junk e-mail when new regulations come into force; [141000]

(2) what directions have been issued to trading standards offices about new regulations coming into force to deal with nuisance spam e-mails; [141001]

(3) what steps she is taking to tackle spam e-mails. [141002]

Mr. Timms:

New regulatory controls on unsolicited direct marketing e-mails will come into force on 11 December this year. The Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 introduce prior consent requirements for unsolicited direct marketing e-mails sent to individuals and a requirement for all direct marketing e-mails not to disguise or conceal the identity of the person on whose behalf they are sent, and not to be sent without a valid address for opt-out purposes. The new rules will be enforced by the Information Commissioner's Office, who will have powers to issue enforcement notices in cases of breaches of the rules. Breach of an enforcement notice is a criminal offence subject to a fine of up to £5,000 in a magistrate's court or an unlimited fine if the trial is before a jury. In addition, individuals or organisations who have suffered a loss or damage as a result of a failure to comply with the regulations will be entitled to seek compensation from the person responsible for the breach.

Junk e-mail is a global phenomenon, however, and the great majority of spam received by UK internet users comes from outside the European Union. The UK is active in international discussions on how to tackle the problem of cross-border spam both multilaterally (for example, in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development), and bilaterally with the USA and other national governments.

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