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International cooperation on countering spam

"Spam is a global problem that requires global action" (E. Liikanen) 

A multi-faceted approach is needed to fight spam effectively. Prevention, consumer awareness, filtering techniques and national laws will be of little use if effective international cooperation is not developed. International cooperation - which include bilateral and multilateral agreements - has two objectives: 

to promote the adoption of appropriate and harmonized anti-spam legislation in countries which do not yet have it;

to encourage cooperation among countries, in order to tackle the problem of spam comprehensively and to ensure effective enforcement of applicable rules.

For more information on the spam phenomenon and its developments see background material page and the SPU newslog on Spam.

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Frameworks for bilateral and multilateral cooperation 
Several countries and organizations are already taking action to improve international cooperation in anti-spam activities at the technical or regulatory level, fostering the exchange of information and best practices and promoting a cooperative approach to the problem of unsolicited commercial messages. 

OECD Anti-Spam Toolkit
To support the development of an inclusive and coherent answer to the spam issue, the OECD, through its ad hoc Spam Task Force, has launched an Anti-Spam “Toolkit” as the first step in a broader initiative to help policy makers, regulators and industry players orient their policies relating to spam solutions and restore trust in the Internet and e-mail.

US FTC: Operation Spam Zombies
The FTC and its partners announced “Operation Spam Zombies,” an international campaign to educate Internet Service Providers and other Internet connectivity providers about hijacked, or “zombie” computers that spammers use to flood in-boxes here and abroad. Twenty members of the London Action Plan, an international network combating spam, and 16 additional government agencies who will participate in Operation Spam Zombies will send letters to more than 3,000 ISPs around the world, urging them to employ protective measures to prevent their customers’ computers from being hijacked by spammers.

Seoul-Melbourne Anti-Spam Agreement Enlarged
On 27 April 2005 twelve Asia-Pacific communications and Internet agencies have joined the Australian Communications Authority (ACA) and the Korean Information Security Agency (KISA) in signing the Seoul-Melbourne Anti-Spam Agreement, a multilateral memorandum of understanding (MoU) on cooperation in countering spam.It said that the MoU is focused on sharing knowledge, information and intelligence about known sources of spam, network vulnerabilities, methods of spam propagation, and technical, education and policy solutions to the spam problem.

Nineteen French speaking African countries adopted a Declaration in the fight against spam 
On 30 March 2005 a declaration was adopted by the CAPTEF (Conférence des administrations des postes et des télécommunications d'expression française ) Member States, recognizing the importance of the fight against spam.The final declaration emphasizes the collection of national contacts responsible for different areas in the fight against spam, which is to be disseminated to international organizations (OECD, ITU, etc.), and the reinforcement of cooperation and international coordination for sharing information on legislation, specific country needs, and anti-spam technologies.

Memorandum of Understanding on Mutual Enforcement Assistance in Commercial Email Matters between the Federal Trade Commission of the United States of America and the Agencia Espanola de Proteccion de Datos.  The Federal Trade Commission and Spain's Agencia Espanola de Proteccion de Datos (AEDP) was signed on 24 February 2005 a bilateral Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to promote enhanced cooperation and information-sharing on spam enforcement activities.The text of the document is currently available on the FTC website.

EU and Asia unite against 'spam' 
A joint drive to combat 'spam' e-mail from Europe and Asia was agreed by Government participants attending an Asia-Europe (ASEM) conference on eCommerce, held in London on 21-22 February 2005. In a joint statement on international anti-spam cooperation was signed on 24 febraury 2005, ASEM's 25 European and 13 Asian member countries agreed to take action to fight spam nationally and to promote anti-spam efforts in international organizations and by industry.

European countries launch joint drive to combat "spam"
'Anti-spam' enforcement authorities in 13 European countries have agreed to share information and pursue complaints across borders in a pan-European drive to combat "spam" electronic mail. They will cooperate in investigating complaints about cross-border spam from anywhere within the EU, so as to make it easier to identify and prosecute spammers anywhere in Europe. The voluntary agreement was signed on 27 January 2005.It establishes a common procedure for handling cross-border complaints on spam, has been drawn up by the contact network of spam enforcement authorities (CNSA), set up at the initiative of the Commission following its Communication of January 2004. The CNSA facilitates the sharing of information and best practices in enforcing anti-spam laws between the national authorities of EU Member States and of the EEA. The Cooperation procedure text is available online on the EU website.

Memorandum of Understanding On Mutual Assistance In Consumer Protection Matters Between the Federal Trade Commission of the United States of America and the Procuraduria Federal Del Consumidor (Office of the Federal Attorney for Consumer Protection) of the United Mexican States.
The Federal Trade Commission and Mexico's consumer protection agency, the Procuraduría Federal del Consumidor (Profeco), was signed on 27 January 2005 a bilateral Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to promote enhanced cooperation in the fight against cross-border fraud. This memorandum marks the first time the FTC has signed a consumer protection MOU with a non-English-speaking nation. The signing took place in Washington, DC. The MOU strengthens the close relationship between the United States and Mexico and will facilitate greater law enforcement coordination in consumer protection matters affecting both nations. This memorandum is a "best efforts" agreement - it is not legally binding and does not alter either country's existing consumer protection laws. 

Seoul-Melbourne Multilateral Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in Countering Spam - The Australian Communication Authority (ACA) and the Korea Information Security Agency (KISA) are currently discussing, with relevant government organizations in other Asia-Pacific countries, the conclusion of a broader anti-spam agreement, which will be open to all interested national agencies. The proposed MoU builds on the pre-existing bilateral agreement between the two agencies, signed in 2003. The text of the document is currently available on the ACA website (RTF or PDF format). 

London Action Plan (LAP)
Communication and coordination between agencies to achieve efficient cross-border enforcement of anti-spam laws, increased collaboration on effective ways to bring spam cases against bulk mailers, and exchange of information and best practices through regular conference calls, form the basis of the London Action Plan (LAP) signed in London in October. The LAP, sponsored by the UK's Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), is now gathering signatories from about 15 countries. For more information about how to sign up to the LAP, please contact Ms Esther Val of the UK Office of Fair Trading. 

European Commission - Information society
The European Commission has launched a public consultation, in the form of a questionnaire, to assess progress on combating spam following the Communication on this issue of January 2004, which identified relevant action for all interested parties. More information on EU activities are available on the Information Society page on fighting spam.

In October 2003, the European Directive on Privacy and Electronic Communications (2002/58/EC) came into force. With this directive, the sending of unsolicited communications via e-mail, SMS or phone has become more rigidly regulated across all European Union (EU) Member States.

A Memorandum of Understanding on mutual enforcement assistance in commercial e-mail matters was signed in July 2004 by the US Federal Trade Commission, the UK Office of Fair Trading, the UK Information Commissioner, Her Majesty's Secretary of State for Trade and Industry in the United Kingdom, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, and the Australian Communication Authority).

Australia-Korea bilateral cooperation in the field of spam: A Memorandum of Understanding concerning cooperation in the regulation of spam has been signed in October 2003 between the Korea Information Security Agency (KISA), the Australian Communication Authority (ACA) and the Australian National Office for the Information Economy. 

MoU between Internet Society of China, Yahoo, eBay, Microsoft and AOL (English version or HTML)

In the effort to develop a coordinated approach to combat the problem of unsolicited commercial email - from a technical perspective - the IETF's Internet Research Task Force established the  Anti-Spam Research Group, dedicated to developing a coordinated approach to combat the problem of unsolicited commercial e-mail (see Summary of ASRG Documents and Work for period of March - May 2003)

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has started to work on spam, with the aim of bringing together all the actors and fostering international co-operation in this area. In July 2004, OECD Members set up a Task Force to Coordinate Fight against Spam. The Task Force should start work in Autumn 2004. 

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ITU Cooperative activities on countering spam

The acknowledgement that spam is a problem with global implications has given rise to many activities in the fight against this menace. The involvement of the International Telecommunication Union in issues relating to spam is listed as follows:

Report by the ITU Secretary General on Spam to ITU Council 2005 

ITU Global Symposium for Regulators - Break-out session on Spam chaired by Dr R. Horton, Australian Communication Authority. In its report to the plenary, the Chairman summarized the discussion highlighting that: 

-     Some level of legislation is relevant for all countries, but its form and extent would depend on the circumstances and degree of enforcement necessary;

-     Cooperation between different authorities should imply exchange of information and joint action;

-     Cooperation should also involve industry;

-     International cooperation arrangements are key to tackling the problem appropriately.

An analysis of potential structures for wider international cooperation based on the recent Seoul-Melbourne Multilateral Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in Countering Spam was given during the meeting, and led to the observation that there is not necessarily a need for extensive and comprehensive arrangements and also that legislation does not need to be in place in advance of an agreement. 

ITU World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA) - During the ITU WTSA, held in Brazil in October 2004, ITU Member countries approved two resolutions relating to future ITU activities in the field of spam: Resolution 51 on Combating Spam and Resolution 52 on Countering spam by technical means.

ITU virtual conference on the status of regulatory efforts to counter Spam. The ITU virtual meeting took place on 19 November 2004. Participants included representatives of regulators responsible for countering spam from Australia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, China, India and the International Telecommunications Users Group (INTUG). Presentations are available here.

ITU WSIS Thematic Meeting on Countering Spam - Geneva, 7-9 July 2004

ITU Global Regulators Exchange (G-REX) virtual conference on the regulatory cooperation on spam. The virtual conference was held following a recommendation made during the 2003 Global Symposium for Regulators that ITU Development Sector (BDT) launch a discussion on frameworks for international cooperation on countering spam.


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Recent meetings and conferences on spam
Past events: information and links relating to past events on spam, are available HERE
March 2006: Spam Conference
November 2005: The Convention on Cybercrime: a Global Treaty? Tunis, Tunisia
November 2005: La Lutte contre le Spam - WSIS, Tunis, Tunisia
November 2005: Conference on Network and Information Security: Political and Technical Challenges, Rome, Italy
September 2005: Conference on eConfidence:Spam and Scams
July 2005: Third Conference on Email and Anti-Spam, Ceas 2005
June 2005: ASEM Cyber Security Workshop will be held in Korea on 23-24 June 2005.
May 2005: ITU/EU (ENISA) Regional Seminar on Cyber Security for CEE, CIS and Baltic States.
May 2005: ASEAN Anti-Spam Workshop.
The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) hosted a 3-day workshop on anti-Spam strategies from 3-5 May 2005. The workshop was conducted as a result of the last ASEAN Telecommunications Regulatory Council (ATRC) meeting in Vientiane, Laos (July 2004) where the ATRC has agreed to the setting up of a Working Group (WG) to work on anti-SPAM measures led by MCMC.
March 2005:  ITU-T Cybersecurity II Symposium 
The ITU-T Cybersecurity II Symposium was hosted by RANS in Moscow.
February 2005: APCAUCE antispam conference was held within the KICH venue in conjunction with APRICOT2005, in Kyoto, Japan.

E-mail Authentication Summit: The Federal Trade Commission and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) co-hosted a two-day E-mail Authentication Summit on 9 and 10 November 2004, to explore the development and deployment of technology that could reduce spam. The agenda of the meeting and all the presentations are available on the meeting website. A number of companies - among others,, EarthLink, eBay, and Bank of America - sent a letter to the FTC that predicted that the deployment of e-mail authentication schemes "will be achieved in phases," starting with something like Sender ID and eventually moving to more flexible systems, like Yahoo's or Cisco's. See article on the event

London meeting on cross-border enforcement of anti-spam legislation: National anti-spam enforcement agencies met on 11 October 2004 in London, in order to discuss international cooperation in spam enforcement. The workshop was hosted by the UK's Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC). A Plan of Action to cooperate on enforcement action to tackle spam was agreed by participants (SPU Newslog).

OECD work on spam: In the framework of its work on spam, OECD held two workshops on spam in 2004 with the purpose of fostering international co-operation in the fight against unsolicited commercial emails.

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Updated : 2011-04-04