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Go to the UK and get punished



British lawmakers plan to use a new tactic to stop the torrent of junk e-mail spam that floods in from overseas: extradite the mass-mailers and bring them to trial in the United Kingdom, Reuters reports.

Spammers could be extradited if they violated the Computer Misuse Act, a 13-year-old UK law that makes it illegal to tamper with and damage another user's computer. Therefore, a spammer who sends e-mails that contain viruses or so-called trojans, programs capable of taking over another user's computer, would be grounds for extradition.

"The majority of spam is either breaking the law regarding fraud, obscenity, child mature content, or (distribution and marketing) of prescription drugs. We wouldn't get every spammer under all three of those laws, but you could get a majority," British member of Parliament, Brian White, told Reuters on Thursday.

The challenge for prosecutors will be building up a strong enough case linking spammers with a particular crime as most operate under aliases and have effectively disguised their whereabouts.

The UK is the second European Union country after Italy to criminalize spam in a law that goes into effect in December. While initially, extradition would be used to target spammers, it could be expanded to include suspects in other cybercrime cases such as virus-writing and hacking.