UK MPs Propose New Spam Stops

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  1. solarpowered candle

    solarpowered candle Registered Member

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    UK MPs Propose New Spam Stops
    31/10/2003 10:08 AM - Bernhard Warner

    MPs plan to use a new tactic to stop the torrent of junk e-mail spam that floods in from overseas: extradite the mass-mailers and bring them to trial in the United Kingdom.

    "Spammers are no longer an irritant, they are a threat," British MP Brian White told Reuters. Britain last month was the second European Union country after Italy to criminalise spam in a law that goes into effect in December.

    But the law has drawn criticism from anti-spam crusaders who say it will be powerless to stop the flood of messages at the source. The majority of spam originates overseas, and in particular, the United States, industry experts say.

    While initially, extradition would be used to target spammers, it could be expanded to include suspects in other cybercrime cases such as virus-writing and hacking, he added.

    White said he and fellow lawmakers travelled to the US earlier this month where they discussed with FBI officials extraditing American spammers who violate British laws.

    "The FBI's reaction was, subject to the individual case, they couldn't see any problem with it," he said.

    UK and US law enforcement authorities have a long history of cooperation in criminal matters, a relationship that has only grown stronger in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks in America and their subsequent crackdowns on subversive groups.

    Extraditing Porn Peddlers

    The rise of spam, that flood of unsolicited e-mail offering everything from pornography and cheap mortgages to a full head of hair, has become an urgent matter for lawmakers around the world.

    Lately, law enforcement officials have begun to crack down on spam as a growing amount contains child pornography and spam messages have been used in a spate of recent fraud scams that target online banking customers.

    White said spammers could be extradited if they violated the Computer Misuse Act, a 13-year-old law that makes it illegal to tamper with and damage another user's computer.

    Therefore, a spammer who sends e-mails that contain viruses or so-called trojans, programmes capable of taking over another user's computer, would be grounds for extradition, White said.

    "The majority of spam is either breaking the law regarding fraud, obscenity, child pornography, or (distribution and marketing) of prescription drugs. We wouldn't get every spammer under all three of those laws, but you could get a majority," he added.

    The challenge for prosecutors will be building up a strong enough case linking spammers with a particular crime as most operate under aliases and have effectively disguised their whereabouts.

    White said the All Party Internet Group, a collection of parliamentarians who have been pushing Internet-related legislation, has asked for the Home Office to update the Computer Misuse Act of 1990, a law written before the advent of the World Wide Web.

    The current law, he said, is not equipped to deal with the modern day nuances of cybercrime.
     
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