December 21, 2000, 1:57 PM — Taking one of the toughest stands in Europe against spam, Austria has made a proposal that, if passed, would make it illegal to send users e-mail without their specific consent.
With support from all five Austrian political parties, Austria's Justice Commission last week recommended that the Austrian Parliament amend the country's Telecommunications Law to forbid spam, or unsolicited
e-mail. The changes would make it illegal to send e-mail without the specific consent of users and would impose fines on those who disobey the law.
The move came after intense lobbying efforts from groups representing both users and Internet service providers in Austria. The users earlier in the month sent an open letter to the Justice Commission, asking members of the working group to extend the same restrictions to e-mail that apply in Austria to faxes and telephone calls, which are forbidden without the consent of the user.
The signatories included the trade association Internet Service Providers Austria; Vibe, an Austrian Internet users group; and Eurocauce, a European antispam lobby group.
The hope is that the proposal will also send a signal to the European Union, said Ingo Liessegang, president of Vibe.
So far, the EU has taken a more conservative approach to spam. In May, the European Parliament upheld the original text of a European Commission proposal that gives consumers the right to opt out of receiving unsolicited e-mail, rejecting amendments that would have banned spam.
The topic probably won't be addressed in the Parliament before September or October, Liessegang said.