Issue 12: July 2004
In this edition:
and future perspectives on spam
2. Developing countries and spam
3. Digital Bridges Initiative
4. Related links
reported in the May issue of the ITU Strategy and
Policy Unit Monthly News Flash, ITU organized a WSIS
Thematic Meeting on Countering Spam* from 7 to 9 July 2004,
in Geneva, Switzerland. The
following articles present some of the output from the meeting, with
overall observations and future perspectives, as well as a specific look
at the particular problems facing developing countries. Background information and
documents pertaining to the workshop are published on the
ITU website at: www.itu.int/spam.The
published output from the meeting can be ordered at: www.itu.int/itudoc/gs/subscirc/gs/index.html.
Finally, we present the new Digital Bridges initiative, with dates for
the first part of the initiative now finalized, as well as a list of
useful links - including information on the new ITU publication on
and future perspectives on spam
summarizes some of the conclusions of the WSIS Thematic Meeting on Spam,
and looks at possible future activities to further efforts to tackle
has become a major annoyance and cost to Internet users and ICT industry
alike, eroding trust in the information economy and - with more
recent developments such as “phishing” and an increased fraudulent
activity - public confidence in the information platform may be
seriously threatened if remedial action is not taken.
It is widely
acknowledged that there
is no "silver bullet", or consensus on the right way forward,
as no single solution will curb spam. A multi-pronged approach to
solving the problem, involving all stakeholders, is clearly necessary.
The combined application of technical solutions, user awareness,
appropriate and balanced legislation followed up with measured
enforcement, industry initiatives —
including those by the marketing community — and
international cooperation, are seen as key elements. But users,
industry and governments all need to engage in a concerted effort,
linking the mandates and expertise of various international
organizations such as ITU, the International Consumer
Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN), the Organisation for
Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the Internet Society,
to support and gradually develop an international framework to combat
this inherently global problem.
have already been some path-finding efforts in multilateral and
bilateral cooperation through MoUs (such as those between Australia/Republic
of Korea, and the United States/United Kingdom/Australia), which should
provide a valuable reference for what can be achieved. Such agreements
could potentially be expanded in the future as other countries and
their regulators develop their capabilities.
Figure one shows levels of anti-spam
legislation across the world regions, clearly illustrating the need for
greater international cooperation to draw levels up in African and the
Arab States in particular, as part of a concerted global effort.
Figure 1: Initial
2004 ITU Telecommunication regulation survey results
The chart below shows levels of
existence of anti-spam regulation across the world regions
ITU World Telecommunication Regulatory Database.
discussions between governments and industry, and practical measures,
such as the proposed OECD anti-spam toolkit, the MoU on mutual
enforcement and the discussion among regulators at the ITU Global
Symposium for Regulators, should therefore all be encouraged. With
regard to ITU in particular, given the diverse membership and valuable
reach of ITU, together with its neutral position, there have been
several calls for future ITU activity in this field. Developing
cooperative legal solutions, and establishing national laws and
regulatory responsibilities, could be seen as a first step in all
countries. But these solutions need to be encouraged alongside
appropriate technical measures. Some
commentators have advanced the idea of establishing a
"global regulatory foundation" on spam, with a view to
eventually developing a global MoU. An optimistic target of two years
might be envisaged to reach that point, and by that time the back may
then be broken with spam issues as we know them.
addition to external activities that are directly spam-related, the
output from the WSIS Thematic Meeting and other events should be used to
usefully inform related activities within ITU. For instance, work on the
topic of spam should be used to inform the WSIS preparatory process. As
part of that process, the output from the Thematic Meeting will be
communicated to the ITU Council Working Group on WSIS (www.itu.int/council/wsis/wsis_WG.html).
Secondly, through its Global Symposium for Regulators (GSR) and Global
Regulators' Exchange (G-REX), ITU's Development Sector (ITU-D) could
play a role in assisting with the immediate challenge of developing
legislation, and identifying models, experience and reference materials
which might be taken from other international efforts. A survey of needs
and capabilities that currently exist could also prove highly valuable.
Finally, the Standardization (ITU-T) Sector, in liaison with the
Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), might also be called upon to
help in providing definitions and proposing technical solutions.
the ITU Strategy and Policy Unit (SPU) is developing a contact list of
the bodies which deal wiith spam issues within each national
administration. This information will be provided alongside details of
current spam-related laws for each country, with a view to facilitating
further dialogue and exchange. See: www.itu.int/osg/spu/spam/law.html.
countries and spam
following article is based on the contribution to the WSIS Thematic
Meeting on Countering Spam from Kenya, Sudan, Tanzania and Zambia.
nations are clearly recognizing that spam is a global problem that
should be resolved with a maximum amount of international
collaboration. As in developed countries, in the developing world the
misuse of spam for criminal offences poses a moral issue, and the cost
of combating the problem presents yet another hurdle to overcoming the
digital divide. Spam can cause denial of service on developing
country networks, and poses a threat to development of the
information and communication technology (ICT) sector.
developing nations have had Internet infrastructure in place for a
number of years, while others are still trying to justify the use of the
Internet in their countries. In most cases, regardless of how long the
service has been running in a country, cost issues have become a prime
concern. Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, for instance, pay for
satellite connectivity, which tends to be very expensive. A provider can
be required to pay as much USD 18 000 for bandwidth of 2 Mbit/s
each month. Spam, which usually originates from outside these countries
and takes up valuable bandwidth, adds yet another problem for providers
and threatens to further increase the cost of providing connectivity.
The result is that services to users are affected, and, as has been seen
in some countries, this has led to users reducing Internet use or even
shunning it entirely.
difficulties raised by spam are particularly great for the
developing nations that are struggling to expand the ICT sector,
particularly with respect to Internet access. Although Internet service
is now growing in some developing nations, and is spreading to rural
areas, connectivity is still concentrated in a few urban areas. In these
areas, a low percentage of the population owns a computer, and only a
small portion of them have Internet access. Spam uses up precious
bandwidth, and with such small customer volume, Internet service
providers are faced with considerable additional difficulties. The
cost of tracking spammers is also very high, a fact which, in
itself, also raises points of concern.
commentators have acknowledged that the situation in the developing
nations warrants consideration. From a developing country perspective,
the following points should be taken into consideration in order to
- Awareness of the prevailing
situation and of the experiences of developing countries should be
raised. To that end, sharing of experiences within the context of
meetings like the WSIS Thematic Meeting held by ITU in Geneva,
should be encouraged.
- Recognizing that enacting
anti-spam laws is not a solution in itself, this is nevertheless a
necessary measure. As developing countries begin to work towards
identifying current legislation and regulations that can be used to
fight or prosecute spammers, developed economies and the
international community can assist by sharing useful material and
- Developing economies should be
able to seek the assistance of international and regional bodies in
order to urgently address the problem.
- It is encouraging that some
organizations are already working towards developing security and
spam filtering tools that would be affordable even for nations that
have limited means of obtaining such technology. Many developing
countries welcome the active participation of ITU - in coordination
and collaboration with other agencies - to develop tools to assist
developing countries in the fight against spam.
- Memorandums of Understanding (MoU)
represent a highly positive step towards effective international
collaboration, but care should be taken to include developing
nations in initial discussions and the formulation of agreements.
This should help ensure that all signatories have the wherewithal to
implement the agreed measures, particularly because developing
nations may not have the necessary resources or infrastructure.
In conclusion, the particular problems faced by
developing economies in tackling spam need to be acknowledged, and
assistance provided where needed. International cooperation and the
sharing of experiences are a positive step towards tackling the spam
problem, as is the development of low-cost solutions that are
realistically applicable and affordable in developing country contexts.
3. The Digital Bridges Initiative
and the Korean MIC sign a Memorandum of Understanding
is flourishing in many economies, especially in East Asia. The Republic
of Korea's high-speed broadband penetration is nearing 80 per cent of
households and connection speeds have reached 40 Mbit/s (roughly 700
times faster than a dial-up connection). However, most people in the
developing world still have no access to even simple dial-up Internet
access. This vast inequality in access to information is creating an
information digital divide that threatens to slow the formation of a
truly global, inclusive information society.
International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the Ministry of
Information and Communication of the Republic of Korea (MIC) have come
together to form a new partnership aimed at helping achieve the
internationally agreed goals of WSIS on bridging the digital divide. The
first part of this initiative will take place in Seoul, Korea, on 10 and
11 September 2004. This new and ongoing project will be called the Digital
Bridges Initiative and will provide new tools necessary to
measure the digital divide as well as policy and technical
expertise to help close the measured gaps. In addition it will provide a financial contribution to
promoting the success of WSIS.
main outputs of this venture will be as follows:
of a worldwide, authoritative, digital opportunity index;
new series of workshops, case studies, and official publications
focusing on technologies, policies, and best practices for bridging the
of appropriate technologies aimed at narrowing the digital gap between
developed and developing countries;
A financial contribution
working together and combining expertise and resources, ITU and MIC are
endeavoring to pursue a world where all can participate in, and benefit
from, the information society.
information on the initiative will shortly become available at: http://www.itu.int/digitalbridges.
a list of the authorities which deal with spam in different countries,
together with relevant legislation, please visit the new ITU website on
authorities and laws regarding spam" (updated
order the new ITU publication based on the meeting on Countering Spam,
in electronic or paper format, please visit the ITU website at: www.itu.int/itudoc/gs/subscirc/gs/index.html.
Activities on Countering Spam
WSIS Thematic Meeting on Countering Spam
Newslog on Spam
further information on Strategy
Unit Monthly News Flash, please
contact: ITU Strategy and Policy Unit, International
Telecommunication Union, Place des Nations, CH-1211 Geneva 20
(Switzerland). Fax: +41 22 730 6453. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
. Website: www.itu.int/spu/