There will be no magic bullet to deal with the problem of spam - and impending US legislation could make things worse, the All Party Internet Group (APIG) has been warned.
According to antivirus and anti-spam software supplier MessageLabs, spam accounted for just 2.3 per cent of emails a year ago but rose to 55 per cent by May this year.
And Brightmail has predicted that at least one in two of all emails will be spam by September 2003 and a fifth of spam in the UK will be pornographic.
Currently the first line of defence is technological. Internet service providers are installing filtering software designed to delete spam automatically before it arrives in your mailbox.
But spammers go to significant lengths to craft messages that will bypass filters, such as by using devious message headers, with 'Re: your email' being the most popular at the moment, according to Steve Linford of spam watchers Spamhaus.
APIG has taken evidence from a range of experts and will present its findings to parliament later this year. But the industry says that, for any results to be effective, the government must push for Europe and the US to cooperate closely.
A global legal framework preventing spam seems a long way off, however.
European legislation to be introduced on 31 October this year states a company cannot send emails unless it has the express permission of the recipient.
But it is unlikely to have much impact on the US spammers who account for an estimated 90 per cent of junk mail.
And proposed legislation in the US is based on the opt-out principle, which means that end users would have to email the spammer if they do not want to receive unsolicited mail.
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