EU Says Spam Now 70-80 Percent of all Email

Unsolicited e-mails continue to plague Europeans and account for between

50 and 80 percent of all messages sent to mail inboxes, the European Commission said Monday, but the Commission noted that "in the USA, spam, p*rn and fraud email has been holding at 80-90 percent for some time."

EU Media Commissioner Viviane Reding called on EU governments to step up their fight against spam, spyware and other illegal online activities and implement EU rules to improve Internet safety.

An EU report found that only two EU nations -- the Netherlands and Finland -- were making inroads in enforcing the 2002 law to crack down on spam. Both those nations have said they just will not tolerate it.

"Spam is still ... making up to between 50 and 80 percent of the mails that we are receiving in Europe and two-thirds of that is coming from outside the European Union, mainly the United States," said EU spokesman Martin Selmayr.

Selmayr said Dutch authorities were able to reduce spam by 85 percent by using fines to get businesses to fall in line with the EU rule.

The Dutch telecommunications watchdog OPTA slapped euro60,000 ($78,500) in fines on three companies late last year for sending spam, and the Commission wants other governments to act as well, Reding said. Dutch OPTA also suggests 'jail time for offenders may be needed.'

"I'd like to see other countries achieving similar results through more efficient enforcement," she said in a statement.

EU officials have said they will put forward new legislation next year to make it easier to prosecute spammers on an EU-wide basis.

Monday's EU report said spam cost euro39 billion ($51.1 billion) worldwide last year, according to San Francisco-based Ferris Research Institute.

Selmayr said the biggest culprit of spam remains the United States, which accounts for 21.6 percent of spam coming into the 25-nation EU. China is the second-biggest producer with 13.4 percent, while EU member France is third with 6.3 percent.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press.

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