Spamming - which is the simultaneous sending of millions of irritating emails at virtually no cost to the sender - could be markedly reduced if the political will to do so existed. If spammers were obliged to divide their mailings into small lots, in order to avoid the charges, that would slow them down considerably. Is the Commission willing to propose that there be heavy charges for heavy use of emailing?
(EN) Directive 2002/58/EC - the e-Privacy Directive - uses the term "unsolicited commercial communications" for what is commonly known as "spam". Article 13 of this Directive requires Member States to prohibit the sending of unsolicited commercial e-mail or other electronic messaging systems such as SMS and Multi media Messaging services unless the prior consent of the subscriber to such services has been obtained. This protection applies to subscribers who are natural persons. Member States can either choose to extend this regime to include legal persons or choose an opt-out system for unsolicited communications addressed to legal persons.
In addition, where Member States permit unsolicited commercial communications to legal persons by e-mail, Directive 2000/31 on electronic commerce requires clear and unambiguous identification of such communications (Article 7.1).
Charges relating to the sending of (large amounts of) unsolicited e-mails would penalise unfairly those companies that conduct legitimate marketing practices in compliance with national spam provisions. With regard to those companies that break spam laws, decisive enforcement action is what is needed to deter such behaviour.
The Commission is planning to adopt a Communication on spam, spyware and malware before the end of 2006. The Communication will take stock of the efforts made so far to raise public awareness on the problems posed by spam, spyware and malicious software and actions taken by the EU, industry and Member States to address these issues. Building on the results so far the Communication will identify further actions that need to be taken by the relevant stakeholders. The Commission is looking forward to hearing the views from Parliament and Council on this Communication.