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Article from Gov.uk web site http://www.ico.gov.uk/for_the_public/topic_specific_guides/spam_emails.aspx
Spam emails are ‘unsolicited commercial email sent without consent’. It is email that you don't want and didn't ask for, and its content can cause embarrassment and distress. However, it's worth remembering that the sender generally doesn't target spam emails personally. The same spam email can be sent to as many as 50 million people at a time and the addresses are often guessed. Some spammers buy lists, some search websites and harvest email addresses or abuse facilities in your web browser. Others simply use specific software to generate or guess email addresses based on dictionaries of common words and terms.
The ICO is responsible for enforcing the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations which prohibit the sending of spam emails (although there are some exemptions). Unfortunately, the problem of spam emails can't be solved by regulation alone. Given the amount of spam emails in circulation, and the fact that most of this is sent from outside the UK meaning that the spammers are not subject to UK law, it's impossible for the ICO to investigate every case.
Under UK legislation, senders are sometimes allowed to send marketing emails until the recipient chooses to opt out. These regulations only apply to spam emails sent within the UK. National initiatives are unlikely to solve the problem in isolation, so the Information Commissioner has signed an understanding with a number of overseas bodies. This sets out an agreement between the parties to cooperate and exchange information to try and stop spam emails originating in their jurisdiction.
You can take the following steps to help prevent spam emails and reduce the amount you receive:
How to prevent spam emails
Be careful who you give your email address to
Reduce your spam emails
You can report spam emails
Reporting and investigating spam incidents is complicated as some spammers employ hackers to hide their true identity. ISPs are generally diligent in withdrawing service from spammers when they receive reports of spam originating on their networks. Unfortunately, by this time the spammer has often moved on to another account. Various bodies including the ICO in the UK also have powers to investigate some spam incidents. Before you report spam emails, please check that it is appropriate to our remit, if the ICO cannot identify a spammer then we cannot pursue a complaint. Please do not forward your unwanted spam emails to us. Instead, please read the how and when to complain leaflet and then complete the complaint form if it’s a matter we can look into.
Reporting Spam from French Companies: www.signal-spam.fr
Reporting Spam from UK Companies http://www.ico.gov.uk/complaints/privacy_and_electronic_communications.aspx