Spammers swamp UK government's data.gov website

Data.gov.uk screengrab Comments on the site are thick with links to sites selling fake designer goods

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Spammers have taken over several parts of a UK government's website that lays out its open data policy.

Data.gov.uk was created to let people know what the government was doing to open up and share official statistics.

The site solicited ideas about how to use the data and invited debate on official policy.

However, the discussion forum and suggestions section have been closed after being filled with messages peddling fake designer goods.

Junk mail

On the Forum section of the site, the most recent messages are nonsensical text broken up by links to web shops selling clothes. Similarly the most recent comments on the ideas section are text studded with links to sites offering counterfeit designer goods.

A spokesman for the Cabinet Office confirmed that the comment function on two sections of the site had been turned off while it investigated how to tackle the problem.

In a message posted on the site, Antonio Acuna, head of the data.gov.uk project, said the site's spam trapping system was being defeated by the efforts of the junk mailers.

Data.gov.uk has automatic systems in place to spot and trap spam, he said, but these were not so good at spotting spam written and posted by people rather than generated by computers.

"After a long analysis of the spam in our site, we have a strong feeling that human intervention is also at play," he wrote.

Commenting and chatting on the site was being "frozen" he said while it looked at ways to defeat those targeting the forums and comment sections.

He said the problem only affected comments and forums and had "no relevance to the data catalogue and the integrity of the information held within it".

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