The European Commission today has repeated its call for EU countries to do more to tackle online privacy threats to the public. A Commission-funded study published today found that although in recent years several EU countries have taken some measures to enforce Europe’s ban on spam, including fines for spammers, the number of prosecuted cases and sanctions imposed on lawbreakers vary considerably. The study confirms the need for the legislative improvements proposed under the reform of the EU’s Telecoms rules (MEMO/09/219): clearer and more consistent enforcement rules and dissuasive sanctions, better cross-border cooperation, and adequate resources for national authorities in charge of protecting citizens’ online privacy.
“Today’s figures show that several EU countries are doing more to enforce online privacy rules. However, spam is an area where we can and must improve for the benefit of internet users in the EU,” said Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media. […]
The reform of the EU’s telecoms rules proposed by the Commission (and currently being finalised by the European Parliament and the Council) would provide conditions for a better enforcement of privacy rules. A new provision in the EU telecoms rules requires that penalties for breaking national laws on online privacy should be effective, proportionate and dissuasive. It further obliges EU countries to allocate the necessary resources to national enforcement authorities.
The new rules will also enable national spam fighters to join the European network of authorities that enforce consumer protection laws and private organisations such as internet service providers will be entitled to take legal action against spammers that abuse their networks. At the same time, the European Commission is negotiating an agreement with the US on cross border cooperation in the enforcement of consumer protection laws. Industry figures show that 1 in 6 spam e-mails are sent from the US. Under the reformed telecoms rules, cooperation on spam will be included in the scope of the EU-US agreement.