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Re: recent decisions in EEC commissions?

  • From: Anders Andersson < >
  • Date: Sat, 14 Jul 2001 02:24:54 +0200 (MET DST)

George W. Mills gmills@localhost wrote:
>It was the European Parliament's Committee on Citizens' Freedoms and
>Rights, Justice and Home Affairs.  This is the leading committee whose
>report goes on to the full Parliament.  Documents relating to the
>amendments considered by the Committee can be seen at

That table currently displays 21 different documents, all of them
with descriptions in French, meaning that I have to open each
document in order to find out whether it's relevant to the issue
of junk e-mail (Cederschi�ld's proposal regarding cybercrime would
be a natural place to look, but I can't see her asking to send the
marines after the spammers, I'm afraid).

If there is any document in particular I should study, please
point me directly to it.

>We'll get something on the EuroCAUCE site soon.  Meanwhile, write to your
>MEP urging him or her to support the ban on UCE proposed in the Commission
>draft and the opinions of the Environment and Industry Committees.  The
>first reading is scheduled for September.

I'd like to have pointers to specific documents so that I can
compare the texts myself before I tell my MEP how to vote.  If
the language has indeed changed to promote opt-out over opt-in
(I believe the current directive is ambiguous in that matter,
allowing member states to decide for themselves), it seems to
me that I should _not_ urge my MEP to support the ban on UCE
proposed in the current draft, but rather to support the ban on
UCE proposed earlier in the process.  Did I get that right?

Also, I'm not too worried about the outcome either way.  Sweden
adopted an amendment to the Marketing Practices Act that was
generally said to permit opt-out with respect to e-mail, but
here is the resulting statutory text in English translation,
from <URL:>:

       13 a � (Enters into force on 2000 05 01) A supplier may not
       advertise to a natural person using telefax or an automated
       dialing system or other similar automatic system for individual 
       communication not operated by a human, unless that natural person
       has agreed beforehand.
       A supplier may use other means for individual communication over
       distance unless the natural person has clearly objected to the use
       of that method.

So, it's opt-in for "telefax", "automated dialing systems" and
"other similar automatic systems for individual communication
not operated by humans", while it's opt-out for everything else
(such as a phone call by a human, paper mail, or cobblestones).
We have yet to see whether a court thinks 1,000 e-mail messages
sent by an automated transmitter (rather than typed manually) is
a case of the former or of the latter.  I'm not aware of any
pending court case.  Few people have the resources required to
_identify_ the spammer behind an open relay in China, much less
have them extradited to Sweden for a court hearing!

And, when I have complained to Swedish companies sending e-mail
without me asking for it, none of them have defended their action
by arguing that the law permits them to ignore the recipient's
implicit wish not to be bothered.  Even companies with whom I
have an ongoing business relationship prefer to "duck and cover"
(rather than explain their behaviour) when faced with a complaint
over their mailings.  I suppose serious businesses don't want to
invite their customers to sue them...

Note that opt-out doesn't mean you must wait until after you have
received the first ad before you can ask to have your address
removed.  If a company is known to send unsolicited ads, simply
send them a long list of e-mail addresses (say, 30 million) to be
"removed" in advance, via fax.  They'll wisen up soon enough.

However, as my ISP feels that an absolute opt-in requirement would
make their jobs easier, I'm all for it.  My ISP is my friend, and
I would even pay them for MAPS RBL, DUL, and RSS protection.

Anders Andersson, Dept. of Computer Systems, Uppsala University
Paper Mail: Box 325, S-751 05 UPPSALA, Sweden
Phone: +46 18 4713170   EMail: andersa@localhost

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