EU Tightening Spam, Cookie Governance

Rhett Pardon
BRUSSELS – The European Union has given eight countries a second warning Thursday to enact privacy legislation governing spam and cookies.

Belgium, Germany, Greece, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Finland have been put on notice that they have two months to comply or face lawsuits before the European Court of Justice.

The 15-nation EU adopted a tough privacy regulation on electronic communications last July. The legislation bans all commercial email unless a recipient has asked for it and sets strict rules for installing cookies.

The EU's difficulty enforcing its own regulations could undercut attempts to get other countries to join the fight against spam. But the delay may be in part because each nation must approve the plan through their parliaments.

According to statistics published by antispam-technology company Brightmail Inc., nearly 80 percent of spam originates from North America. About 53 percent of all email in the EU is unsolicited commercial email.

U.S. federal law allows sending commercial messages without permission as long as the recipient is given a chance to "opt out" of receiving future messages from the same sender.