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New EU anti-spam law stops all spam in a day
11 Dec 2003
A new EU anti-spam law came into force today and is already having a dramatic effect on the amount of spam sent to computer users. Spam has been a growing problem in recent years, with an estimated 50% of all email messages being unsolicited junk or the DeadBrain newsletter, but just hours after the law came into effect the flow of spam has been reduced to a trickle.
Researchers at Bootle University have noticed a marked fall in the number of spam messages being sent throughout the day so far. "We started off in the millions this morning; by lunchtime we were down to the thousands; but this afternoon just 25 messages are being sent per hour," said Professor Gregory T Mullet. "It's really quite amazing what an effect this EU law is having."
The university's computer monitoring department predicts that by tomorrow a negative amount of spam will be being sent. "It's hard to imagine, but by tomorrow, or Saturday at the latest, not one person in the EU will be getting new spam emails, and any unread spam emails will start to flow back to the spammers who sent them," Professor Mullet continued. "Spam follows the classic tidal model – we've had high tide, and now it's going to start flowing back out to sea. The only thing that could stop it is some sort of blockade by French fishermen, but that's highly unlikely."
It is now a criminal offence to send an email message without first gaining the recipient's approval. However, this presents a further problem, in that gaining approval to send an email by email constitutes a further breach of the law. "There doesn't appear to be any limit on the law, so we could have spammers sending emails requesting permission to send emails requesting permission to send emails, and so forth," technology expert Douglas Ramsbottom told DeadBrain. "Apart from further clogging up the Internet, this is going to give me a headache just thinking about it."
Hardened European spammers are now mending their ways. "I used to send millions of messages a day asking random people if they wanted parts of their body enlarged," said one former Swedish spammer. "But from today I'm so scared the EU's going to track me down and find me that I will never send another spam for as long as I live. In fact, I'll never email anyone again, just to be on the safe side."
There had been concern that the law would have little effect because the majority of spam comes from outside the EU, but spammers in America and Asia also appear to be taking notice of the law. "We saw what the EU can do and how powerful it is over President Bush's steel tariffs," said the president of the California Spam Association, who wished to remain anonymous. "They were on the verge of bringing our entire economy to its knees – I'm not risking my neck just for a few dodgy emails advertising sex toys. Who knows what they will do to me!"
Despite the immediate success of the anti-spam law, EU officials are remaining guarded about their success. "If spam does not stop completely by the end of the year then we will start a further campaign to stop it altogether," said an EU Commission spokesman. "We are expecting it to be mostly a communication problem, so to clear up any confusion we're going to send an email once a day to every email address in Europe telling the recipient about the new law. That should get the message across about how serious we are about junk email."
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