In July 2003, the Government adopted, at the Inter-Ministerial Committee for the Information Society, a series of measures to combat spam, the implementation of which was entrusted to the DDM. A contact group bringing together the main players in the Internet, both public and private, was set up. The work of this contact group has led to a concrete solution: a national platform for automatic spam reporting.
6.Actions taken to combat "spam": Spam boxes
The DDM is currently working on a project to reopen a spam box. The new project is in line with several French and foreign experiences in this field.
The work of the Commission nationale de l'informatique et des libertés (CNIL) in France
In 1999, the CNIL addressed the issue of new marketing practices using e-mail. It adopted a series of recommendations in its report on ' electronic direct mail and privacy ».
To take full account of this phenomenon, in July 2002, the CNIL launched an operation entitled «Spam Box»: Internet users were invited to transfer unsolicited e-mails to a specific address.
In three months, the CNIL received approximately 325,000 spam messages.
Analysis of the results of the spam box operation reveals that 84% of the «spam» received were written in English.
Following the «spam box» operation, the CNIL decided to denounce to the Public Prosecutor’s Office by five deliberations on 24 October 2002 some of the companies responsible for sending the most mass spam. The head of one of these companies, after having been released in first instance, was finally sentenced by the Court of Appeal of Paris on 18 May 2005. The latter had carried out a mass mailing of unsolicited e-mails and was being sued for unfair collection of personal data. In accordance with the position of the CNIL, the Court found that the collection of information on public sites was unfair when this information was used without reference to the purpose of putting it online and without the consent of those concerned.
On 9 December 2003, the CNIL also decided to denounce to the Public Prosecutor, based on the decree of 1 August 2003, eight companies that address to natural persons unsolicited advertisements by fax.
Indeed, the fact of sending an advertisement by fax to a natural person without having obtained his prior consent is punished by a fine of 750 € maximum per message sent (art. R10-1 of the code of posts and telecommunications).
In October and November 2002, the Commission for the Protection of Privacy, the Belgian equivalent of the CNIL, made available to Internet users receiving unsolicited e-mail a «spam box».
Analysis of the results revealed that the vast majority of spam came from the United States, while mail identified as sent from Belgium accounted for only 2.8% of the total spam received.
In the United States
In February 1998, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) set up a “spam box” (email@example.com) so that US consumers could send unsolicited email advertisements to the FTC for analysis. She receives over 15,000 emails a day.
To learn more:
CNIL spam box operation : the lessons and actions of the Cnil in the area of unsolicited electronic communications (Report - 24 October 2002).
Thematic dossier on the Interdepartmental Committee on the Information Society 2003.
Committee on Privacy (Belgium) http://www.privacy.fgov.be/sommaire.htm
Federal trade commission http://www.ftc.gov/spam/