Thought for the day:Dragging our heels on spam

Hard-hitting IT commentator Dr Simon Moores gives his personal take on the hot issue of the day.As expected, the European...

Hard-hitting IT commentator Dr Simon Moores gives his personal take on the hot issue of the day.As expected, the European Parliament has voted to make the sending of unsolicited e-mail spam illegal.

This won't actually pass into law until next year, and cookies have been saved from being banned under the same legislation.

However, it does rather leave one isolated nation hanging off the edge of Europe. The UK is fighting bravely alone for the right to have its citizens spammed by tedious offers of Swedish furniture, personal massage services and the kind of sleaze that deserves a personal invitation to tea at No.10.

As I pause briefly to delete a spam message that has just dropped into my mailbox, I can say with confidence that, in its Your Shout column, has clearly demonstrated that its readers don't wish to be spammed. They hold strong views on the dithering that inflicts this sordid plague upon everyone using the Internet.

When the subject of spam is discussed privately, I find that people in government are clearly embarrassed, and agree that "opting in" is the more sensible solution than "opting out". But nobody appears to know why on earth, as a nation, we are defending spam as a legitimate marketing tool and supporting the right of others to continually pester us with the contents of Pandora's Box.

So Government, will you please accept that if there were a referendum, there would be overwhelming support for the banning of unsolicited e-mail.

Continued support for the principle of spamming suggests that you have lost touch with popular opinion. There is the implication that you have little grasp of the productivity costs that spam imposes on British business, as well as the danger that it presents to the younger and more vulnerable members of our society.

Ban spam or, at least, tell us why you believe we shouldn't, and why an "opt-out" policy is in the public interest.

What action should the Government take on spam? >> reserves the right to edit and publish answers on the Web site. Please state if your answer is not for publication.

Zentelligence: Setting the world to rights with the collected thoughts and ramblings of the futurist writer, broadcaster and Computer Weekly columnist Simon Moores.

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