Report to Prepcom-2 on the ITU WSIS Thematic Meeting on Countering Spam

Presented by Robert Shaw, ITU Strategy and Policy Unit

It is my pleasure to report on behalf of the ITU on the WSIS Thematic Meeting on Countering Spam organized during July 2004.

During the Geneva phase of the Summit, WSIS participants recognized that spam is a "significant and growing problem for users, networks and the Internet as a whole" (WSIS Declaration, paragraph 37) and that, in order to build confidence and security in the use of ICTs, there is a need to "take appropriate action at both national and international levels" (WSIS Plan of Action, paragraph C5, d).

The acknowledgement that spam is a problem at the global level contributed to the fostering of various activities in the field. Countries became aware of the need to take action on this issue, and recognized the fundamental importance of international cooperation and coordination.

In the framework of its activities to implement the WSIS Action Plan, ITU hosted a WSIS Thematic Meeting on Countering Spam, which took place from 7 to 9 July 2004 in Geneva. Approximately 200 participants, representing more than 60 countries, as well as from civil society and the private sector, recognized once more that spam has become a major concern, in particular considering recent developments such as phishing and other fraudulent activities, which are threatening public confidence in usage of email and in the Internet as a whole. A contribution from developing countries underlined that spam can have even more dramatic consequences in countries that have a limited available bandwidth, as large quantities of bulk e-mail essentially equates to a denial-of-service attack on their Internet access facilities.

The Chairmanís report from the meeting, which has been posted on the WSIS website, stresses the need for improved international cooperation in the field, underlined the role of the ITU, which was called upon to continue its activities in this field, improving the exchange of best practices between developed and developing countries, to assist in harmonized legal frameworks and cooperating with other international organizations working in the area.

Considering its membership of 189 Member States, ITU is well positioned to create a platform to collect anti-spam laws world-wide, and to provide a list of competent enforcement authorities and their contact details. In May 2004, a "Spam Laws and Authorities" website was created which gathers spam-related data directly from ITU Member States. In addition, considering a number of other international projects currently being developed or implemented to fight spam, ITU is maintaining a web page dedicated to all international cooperation initiatives, providing information on content and scope of new projects, making reference to and linking with the organizing/responsible entity. The websites mentioned above can be found at www.itu.int/spam/.

The interest of ITU Member States in issues relating to spam was also highlighted during discussions at the last two ITU Global Symposium for Regulators (most recently December 2004) and the recent ITU World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA), held in Brazil in October 2004. During the latter Assembly, two resolutions were adopted that guide ITUís future activities in the field of countering spam.

Looking to the future, the ITU is exploring specific cooperative projects with other international initiatives in countering spam, for example with the OECD and APEC. In a related initiative, ITU is organizing a Thematic Meeting on Cybersecurity from 28 June - 1 July 2005 here in Geneva. This event will examine the recommendations in the WSIS Plan of Action that relate to promoting global confidence and security in the use of ICTs. The first day of this event will focus on follow-up activities to the Countering Spam Thematic Meeting held in July 2004. Further information on the Thematic Meeting on Cybersecurity will be distributed in a flyer at Prepcom-2 and is available on the WSIS website.

Thank you and this concludes the ITUís report.