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UK anti-spam policies failing

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Security

ISPs and the government are doing little to tackle the spam problem, according to the annual report from the Office of the Information Commissioner (ICO).

The report revealed that no legal action was taken in relation to the 600 complaints which it received during the past 12 months.

The ICO claimed that it lacks the necessary powers successfully to pursue and prosecute spammers.

It pointed out that current Enforcement Notices are easy to appeal against, and trigger a lengthy Information Tribunal procedure during which spammers are free to continue their activities. The ICO advises users to seek advice from their ISPs.

Jamie Cowper, senior consultant at messaging firm Mirapoint, said: "This is a classic example of a token gesture to deal with a serious problem.

"Now we find that the ICO is recommending users to seek advice from their ISP, but ISPs are not being forced to reveal the identity of spammers.

"This problem is not going to go away until the government gives spam laws real teeth. If the Office of Fair Trading can close down a business, why not the ICO? I recommend that users choose an ISP with good anti-spam technology in place."

Most UK ISPs offer anti-spam solutions as an added extra, enabling them to levy charges of £1 to £2 per month per user for the service.

But many ISPs state that they do not want to block spam at source owing to fears of so-called 'false positives' where a legitimate message is mistakenly blocked.

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