Internet users are on course to receive more junk email after a European Parliament committee voted this week against banning unsolicited commercial email, known as spam.
ISPs said it was ?unfortunate? that the Legal Affairs Committee backed an ?opt out? scheme - whereby users must inform emailers that they do not wish to receive junk email.
However, advertisers and direct marketing groups in much of Europe are likely to welcome the news.
ISPs had called for a reverse scheme where the only people who would receive spam would be those that asked for it. Industry body EuroISPA said it hoped MEPs would vote differently when the vote goes to the full European Parliament in May.
?We are disappointed, particularly because the German direct marketing association said there should be a restriction on spam, European ISPs said there should be and 25,000 consumers said there should,? said a EuroISPA spokesman.
?Consumers and industry have both said the same thing, so why have they gone the other way?? he said.
Committee members voted in favour of amendment 71, tabled by Finnish MEP Astrid Thors, to article seven of the European Commission?s Framework for Electronic Commerce proposal, published last November.
The amendment states that countries must maintain an ?opt out register? that ISPs must check regularly, ISPs must inform their customers of their data protection rights and make sure unsolicited email is clearly identifiable to consumers.
?But how much use is that?? said the EuroISPA spokesman. ?Think about a junk fax. How useful is it to see on the top of the fax ?you didn?t ask for this???
ISPs are also concerned about an annex to the article that says the recipients? country law should be enforced for the control of spam. This will help tackle spam coming in from the US, but will effectively lift the ban on spam in operation in some countries, such as Germany.
EuroISPA said it suspects German election issues have distracted the German MEPs on the committee because both the socialist party and green party are known to be strongly anti spam, yet the amendment passed, it said.
Elsewhere in Europe, marketing groups are strongly opposed to restrictions on spam. The DMA in the UK said earlier this week it anticipated more large companies utilising email as an advertising medium in the future.
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