Apig (the All party Parliamentary Internet Group) today asked the government to enforce tougher rules on spam, by setting out better complaints mechanisms and providing best practice measures on security monitoring for all online users.

Today's report puts pressure on the DTI (Department of Trade & Industry) to go beyond simply introducing an opt-in rule. The opt-in rule demands marketers receive consent from recipients before they send out any marketing material via email.

From December spammers will be fined £5,000 for sending unsolicited mail to business adresses ? indivulas howver, receive no protection.

"It is essential that co-ordinated global action be taken against spam. I hope this report can help build international support for both legislation and technical measures to deal with spam," said Derek Wyatt MP and chairman of Apig.

Hundreds of possible actions were discussed throughout the consultation, which opened back in July, but most, including enforcing charges for sending emails, were later dismissed.

Its final recommendations include:

— that the DTI explicitly bans the sending of spam to business addresses.
— that bodies such as the Trading Standards, the Information Commissioner and the police are given more funding and powers to pursue spammers as most junk mail advertises services that are illegal or unsuitable for blanket distribution.
— that the ISP industry takes urgent steps to provide clear information to customers on how to secure their machines, including the provision of self tests to be administered by the user.
— that indivuals are provided with the same protection as business recipients.

The group's research revealed that roughly half of all spam messages are sent through innocent users' poorly protected machines. One respondent told Apig that he accumulated 120,000 unauthorised outgoing spam mails in just one hour after connecting a misconfigured Microsoft exchange server to the internet. An unnamed ISP reported 750,000 outgoing spam messages over a 24-hour period from a single customer whose machine had been exploited.

Rules and laws aside, we are all responsible for our own destinies, and it's up to us to get on with the job of protecting ourselves from spam.
The golden rules are:

1. Do not respond to spam — no matter how tempting it is, or how angry you might be.
2. Do not send spam back (bounce it).
3. Do not allow yourself to be tempted to spam the spammer.
4. Do not visit porn or warez sites.
5. Do not publish your email address on your website — make a mailto hyperlink out of some text, such as: 'Problems with the site: Email the webmaster.
6. Do get some spam filtering software installed, or set yourself up with a spam filtering server.
7. Do get a second email address, and use it for submissions to websites — keep your primary address for people you can trust.
8. Treat your email address as confidential — don't publish it anywhere, least of all in a web forum where thousands of people can see it.

Related links
UK enforces spam laws