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ITU WSIS Thematic Meeting on Countering Spam
ITU WSIS Thematic Meeting on Countering SPAM
International Telecommunication Union
CICG, Geneva 7-9 July 2004
International Telecommunication Union

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good morning,

It is my pleasure to welcome you here to Geneva for this ITU WSIS thematic meeting on countering spam.

This morning I opened my mailbox at ITU and found 30 new emails waiting to be read. Out of those 30, I guessed that probably 20 of them were spam that had somehow managed to get through the ITU’s spam filtering system. I did not open those emails so I am only guessing that they were spam. But they may have contained viruses or worms. The situation is becoming worse and worse everyday. If we cannot counter spam now, then it will be much harder to do so in the future. If my email system no longer functions effectively, will I still be able to work as the Secretary General?

I would like to offer my appreciation to the many experts from governments, the private sector, from civil society and from other WSIS stakeholders who have traveled here from around the world to share their special expertise and vision over the next two and a half days. I would also like to welcome those who are joining us via cyberspace, as this meeting is being audiocast live over the Internet. The ITU looks forward to working in partnership with all of you in countering spam

The outcome of the first phase of the Summit, held in Geneva in December 2003, was the adoption of two documents: a shared vision by world leaders of a global information society called the "Declaration of Principles", and a "Plan of Action", which starts to put this vision into place, ahead of the second phase of the Summit, to be held in Tunisia in November 2005.

During the first phase of WSIS, countering spam was specifically identified as a necessary step for building confidence and security in the use of ICTs. In the Declaration of Principles, WSIS participants recognized that spam is "[quote]—a significant and growing problem for users, networks and the Internet as a whole—[end quote]". But having recognized the problem, it is necessary to take "[quote]—appropriate action on spam at national and international levels—[end quote]". Given that spam continues to grow in volume, and already has an estimated cost to our global economy of US$ 10 billion dollars a year, it is clear that action to counter spam is becoming increasingly urgent.

The WSIS has recognized the problem, and called for action, and it is now up to the international community and the WSIS stakeholders to do something about it. The negotiations at WSIS, on spam and other topics, exposed differences of approach, even among developed economies. Different stakeholders hold divergent opinions and sometimes differing, even conflicting, visions of how to deal with new policy issues that have emerged in the information society, and who should take responsibility to act.

But that brings us to why we are here. Communication networks are the lifeblood of modern societies. They are responsible for a growing share of national wealth, as well as hopes for greater prosperity. However, cyberspace does not respect national borders and no country alone can solve the world’s problems with spam. We must be creative in finding new ways to cooperate in addressing problems created by those who would abuse networks for their own profit and gain. We must find new methods for regional and international cooperation. And of course, we must find ways to facilitate the participation of developing countries in ICT policy discussions so that their particular interests, needs and concerns are understood. I can promise you that the ITU, with its broad membership of 189 Member States and 700 private sector members, stands ready to assist in this endeavour.

The agenda for our meeting has been structured along a multi-track approach to countering spam. We hope that your deliberations will lead to some concrete action-oriented cooperative measures. In particular, in this meeting we hope to look at creating frameworks for international cooperation, such as the Memorandum of Understanding on mutual enforcement in commercial email matters, signed last Friday, between the enforcement agencies of Australia, United Kingdom and United States. Each session has a rapporteur who will report back at the end of the meeting on the results of each session. Together with the Chairman of the meeting, we shall be preparing a report on your deliberations, which will then be submitted to the ITU Working Group on WSIS and to the preparatory process for the Tunis phase of WSIS.

On that note and to conclude, every ship needs a good captain to find its way and have a successful voyage. I would like to propose Dr. Robert Horton, Acting Chair of the Australian Communication Authority, to serve as our Captain. Bob Horton’s achievements are far too numerous to list here but I might mention that he has had a long and impressive career including as Chairman of the Australian Telecommunications Standardization Committee, Chairman of the ITU’s Telecommunications Standardization Advisory Group, and Chairman of the Asia-Pacific Telecommunity Standards Program (ASTAP). Perhaps we should also highlight that it was Bob Horton who first proposed the idea of a multilateral MoU on countering spam at the ITU’s Global Symposium for Regulators last year. He is also one of the signatories of the newly signed MoU.

My very best wishes for a successful and useful event.

Please join me in welcoming Dr. Horton.


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