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Heard the one about the new spam and privacy law?

By Chris Williams. Published: 11th Dec 2003, 18:19:07 | Permalink | Printable

Site announcement

It's not hard to believe that the new UK Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations are derived from an EU directive. Effective from today, the regulations hope to strengthen user privacy and quell spam although at least one trendy web company has revealed that no one cares. As many as 99 percent of UK websites are in fact giving the new law a cold shoulder.

As quoted in a BBC Online report, a WebAbacus spokesperson said, "Companies are either not aware of the legislation, or are ignoring it". The Information Comission is also "surprised".

Speaking to the Beeb, Phil Jones, assistant information commissioner, cried, "There should be transparency. People should know what is going on with the information collected about them. People should recognise that the information collected is only benign - but they should be alerted to the ways that data is going to be used."

Surprised he might be, but he hits the nail on the head as to why webmasters are perhaps reluctant to publish privacy policies. Just about every website that's medium sized or bigger, uses cookies and actively logs and analyses visitor traffic information. Webmasters like to know how many people are reading their content and also what kind of people they are and where they come from, in terms of geography and referers. However, it may drive away visitors - certainly the paranoid ones - when it's revealed exactly how much information is being logged, archived and passed onto third parties. It could simply be that webmasters are oblivious to the new law, or that they don't have the time or the skills to pen a public policy document.

However, now may be the time to get it all out in the open and educate web surfers. You can read more about the new directive from out-law.com and also, information on cookies from aboutcookies.org.

Finally, in accordance with the regulations, we've updated our About page with details on the drobe.co.uk privacy policy. Spend the afternoon writing and editing articles, or drawing up public policies, a tough decision.

Please take a few minutes to read it over and any comments are welcome.

Links

drobe.co.uk privacy policy

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Discussion

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Sounds a bit like my company's mission statement - nobody believes that either!

 is a RISC OS UserEddie on 11/12/03 7:13PM
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So in fact this law has almost no real impact on spam seeing as (judging by the sample of 90% of my mail intake which is spam, according to SpamStamp) Britain isn't exactly a hotbed of spamming swines. Still, it's possible that without this law we might become that in the future.

 is a RISC OS Userninja on 11/12/03 7:39PM
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I intend to ingore the law in the same way that I ignore the law that says you can't eat mince pies on christmas day. It is crazy. Why should the government say what I put on *MY* site.

 is a RISC OS UserAndrewDuffell on 11/12/03 9:11PM
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a new york site isn't covered by this law silly.

Now there's a law against it here we have more power to get other countries to stop doing it.

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 11/12/03 9:27PM
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One of the good things about accessing the internet and email via a school network (my job) is that pretty much all spam and all advertisements on web pages are removed before it gets to me. However, it was annoying when drobe became a banned site and I was reported to the Headmaster for trying to access it ! Just one dodgy work in one news item did it. (But, one phone call then got it sorted)

Back on topic, this law seems to be universally being criticised as being ineffective and irrelevant. I guess its a first step in the right direction though.

 is a RISC OS Usermartin on 12/12/03 9:05AM
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Why not break more laws then? I don't understand how people boast about breaking the law when most laws are there for their protection.

 is a RISC OS UserSnig on 12/12/03 12:47PM
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The main problem is not just the spammers but the idiot minority who respond and buy those "Enlargement tables" etc who then give the spammers an incentive to stay in business. Like most EU directives this is yet another one that will simply be ignored.

 is a RISC OS UserFuzzy on 12/12/03 1:21PM
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Ninja: while this country "isn't exactly a hotbed of spamming swines" there *are* some notably annoying spammers here (ok - anyone who spams is, by default, annoying!) and /in theory/ this law should help stamp them out.

Except it won't - there are loopholes. One example, which is proving to be a bone of contention in some circles, is that it offers little or no protection for "business" addresses.

Then there is the fact that the Info Commiss is responsible for dealing with transgressions and either lacks the teeth or the resources (or both) to do so - only time will tell if this actually true, though.

As things stand, though, while you suggest that without this law we might have become a hotbed of spamming swines in the future, my fear is that we might become that /because of/ it. :-(

VinceH

 is a RISC OS UserVinceH on 12/12/03 6:29PM
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