The UK is increasingly seen as a soft touch for spammers, many of whom have decided to set up shop here, according to anti-spam organisation Spamhaus.
Steve Linford, founder of Spamhaus, told vnunet.com that the European e-Privacy Directive, enforced in December 2003, had simply made the problem worse.
He predicted that by this December spam will rise to around 80 per cent of all emails.
Linford claimed that the law that is meant to deter spammers is full of loopholes and its sanctions are derisory, effectively giving UK spammers the green light both to increase their activities here and form partnerships with overseas spammers.
While Italy can impose fines of up to €90,000 and prison sentences of up to three years under the e-privacy law, spammers in the UK face fines of just £5,000 in a magistrates' court (or an unlimited penalty from a jury) and no risk of jail.
"We have seen Italian spammers moving to the UK to set up their business in order to escape the Italian anti-spam laws," said Linford.
He also claimed that spammers are building links with organised crime and virus writers.
"We will soon see the next wave of spam. These Russian gangs are pretty serious. While most of them work for US spammers, they are doing what the US spammers didn't do: using viruses and Trojans."
Spammers are also believed to be turning their attention to the new 3G mobile networks.
Richard Wong, general manager of messaging vendor Openwave, told vnunet.com that he expected to see the first wave of spam multimedia messaging service (MMS) messages sent to UK and European mobile phone owners by the end of the year.
"Technically, MMS is email; it uses email protocols. Some operators have web-based MMS and the spammers and scammers have learned to find open access to MMS networks so it doesn't cost them anything," he said.
"I expect the first phase of fraud will be focused on roaming [being asked to give credit card details to an overseas mobile operator when abroad] or on top-ups for pay-as-you-go 3G mobiles."
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