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Brussels, 7 February 2005

European countries launch joint drive to combat “spam”

‘Anti-spam’ enforcement authorities in 13 European countries have agreed to share information and pursue complaints across borders in a pan-European drive to combat “spam” electronic mail. They will cooperate in investigating complaints about cross-border spam from anywhere within the EU, so as to make it easier to identify and prosecute spammers anywhere in Europe.

Welcoming the agreement, Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding urged authorities in all EU Member States to join the agreement. “Enforcement authorities in Member States must be able to deal effectively with spam from other EU countries”, she said, “even though at present most spam originates from outside the EU. In parallel, we are working on cooperation with third countries both bilaterally and in international fora like the OECD and the International Telecommunication Union”.

The voluntary agreement, which establishes a common procedure for handling cross-border complaints on spam, has been drawn up by the contact network of spam enforcement authorities (CNSA), set up at the initiative of the Commission following its Communication of January 2004[1]. The CNSA facilitates the sharing of information and best practices in enforcing anti-spam laws between the national authorities of EU Member States and of the EEA.

National agencies which have already agreed to use the procedure include Austria’s Federal Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology, Belgium’s Privacy Commission and Federal Public Service Economy – Directorate General Enforcement and Mediation, the Cyprus Office of the Commissioner for Personal Data Protection, the Czech Republic’s Data Protection Authority, the Danish Consumer Ombusdsman, the French data protection authority CNIL the Hellenic Data Protection Authority, Ireland’s Dept. of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources and the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner, Italy’s Data Protection Authority, Lithuania’s State Data Protection Inspectorate, Malta’s Office of the Commissioner for Data Protection, the Netherlands’ electronic communications regulator (OPTA) and Data Protection Authority (CBP), and the Spanish Data Protection Authority.

Parties to the agreement undertake to make their “best efforts” to address complaints forwarded to them from other parties, so as to ensure that more extensive cooperation closes any loopholes that could be exploited by spammers and data thieves.

The agreement builds on the enforcement agencies’ growing experience of cooperating across borders. For example, in one case the French data protection authority acted together with the Belgian authority to stop a spam operation. In another, cross-border cooperation produced a successful prosecution against an organisation using spam techniques to lure consumers into a premium rate services dialling scam.

Further information

Recent Commission initiatives on spam can be found at:

[1] (COM(2004) 28)

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