MEPs pressed to reject opt-in spam directive

Employers' organisations are pressing European MPs to water down proposals to reduce unsolicited mass e-mailing, or spamming.

Employers' organisations are pressing European MPs to water down proposals to reduce unsolicited mass e-mailing, or spamming.

The move follows a debate in the European Parliament last week, which failed to resolve the issue of whether the public should have to opt-out or opt-in of receiving spam.

The CBI said this week that it would continue to lobby for the opt-out option, which would require consumers to actively state that they do not want to receive marketing e-mail.

The opt-in alternative would penalise responsible marketeers, jeopardise the growth of e-commerce and prove difficult for companies to administer, it said.

"An opt-in system would force companies to get permission from every would-be customer before sending them marketing e-mail. That would place a huge burden on them while not stopping irresponsible spammers," said Pamela Taylor, the CBI's senior e-business policy advisor.

MPs voted for the opt-in proposal, contained in a draft directive on processing of personal data and the protection of privacy, by 259 votes in favour to 210 against with six abstentions.

But employers' groups were given breathing space when the MEPs decided they could not accept the amended version of the directive and voted to send it back to a parliamentary committee for further debate.

The Committee on Citizens' Freedoms and Rights, Justice and Home Affairs can choose to redraft the directive or place it before Parliament again for another vote.

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