Fighting Spam a Top International Priority

Steve Javors
WASHINGTON — The Federal Trade Commission has joined with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to issue a set of guidelines to help fight the scourge of spam.

The OECD is an international forum of 30 countries, including the U.S., “established to promote economic growth, trade, and development,” according to its website.

Spam poses a global problem because it can be sent from any computer to any computer in the world. The unsolicited emails can be used to send viruses or spyware, and can trick surfers into releasing confidential personal information.

The OECD recommended six specific steps governments should take in eliminating spammers:

· Government enforcement agencies should have the necessary authority to take action against spammers located in their territory or against foreign spammers who target consumers in their territory.

· Government enforcement agencies should have the ability to share information with foreign law enforcement officials in appropriate cases.

· Government enforcement agencies should have the ability to provide investigative assistance to foreign authorities in appropriate cases, particularly in obtaining information or locating or identifying people.

· Government enforcement agencies should partner with industry and consumer groups to educate users and promote information sharing.

· Government enforcement agencies should cooperate with the private sector to facilitate the location and identification of spammers.

· Countries should cooperate in international enforcement efforts; efforts to reduce the incidence of inaccurate information about holders of domain names; and efforts to make the Internet more secure.

This week Australia convicted its first spammer. Prosecutors for the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) convicted Perth-based Clarity1 and owner Wayne Mansfield under 2003’s Spam Act with sending 56 million unsolicited commercial emails.

Also under consideration is the U.S. SAFE WEB Act, which would give the FTC enhanced powers to fight spam, spyware and Internet fraud. The bill was passed unanimously in the Senate and should go before the House later this year.

“It’s important that everyone remember that spam is a global problem, and that spammers need to be hunted down wherever in the world they may choose to hide,” said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos.