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ICTs for a Sustainable World #ICT4SDG

Contribution Feb 2013 Text Display Screen

Name : ALQURASHI, Mansour
Date : October 10, 2013
Organization : Communication & IT Commission (CITC) / National Committee for Information Society (NCIS)
Country : Saudi Arabia
Issues : Issue 1

Contribution :

The costs of spam are well-known and include:

             Software and manpower invested to combat spam;

             Consumption of valuable network resources;

             Lost productivity in terms of both manpower and equipment;

             Criminal costs such as identity theft, financial theft, intellectual property theft, malware infection, fraud, deceptive marketing and many others.

In general, the steps in a comprehensive approach to combating spam are also well-known:

             legislation and enforcement;

             Development of technical measures;

             Establishment of industry partnerships to accelerate studies;

             Education and awareness raising;

             International cooperation.

There are a number of intergovernmental, private sector, and consumer-driven initiatives currently addressing spam, but there is great deal of fragmentation and inconsistency in the approaches. The goal of international public policy should be elimination of fragmentation, consistency of approach, facilitation and global support.

A starting point would be that spam is independent of content and focuses on the characteristics of bulk messages which are unsolicited. Though email is currently the principle vehicle for spam, the definition should be relevant to any electronic communication.

The policy should recognize that electronic communication does not respect borders or national norms. The policy should consider anti-spam legislation which addresses not only the spammer but the enablers including “rogue” ISPs, financing and even advertisers. It should facilitate inter-agency cooperation within nations as well as trans-national cooperation. Enforcement and cooperation would be simplified if one agency within each nation were to be designated as principal coordinator and single point of contact.

The policy should address a range of both preventive and punitive actions aimed at discouraging spamming, as well as guidelines designating the prime in both investigation and prosecution in trans-national cases.

The policy should require commitment from all nations and possibly even sanctions against safe havens.

The policy should recognize the roles of all stakeholders and encourage appropriate technical developments, partnerships, research and globally coordinated awareness programs.

Very importantly, the policy should recommend a watchdog organization responsible for:

             Monitoring and reporting on implementation of national anti-spam legislation in general conformance with the policy.

             Coordinating international or regional support systems and processes.

             Coordinating awareness programs.

             Reporting on research and development progress and innovation.

             Identifying weaknesses and safe havens for possible international action.

Such a watchdog organization must be an intergovernmental organization in the UN family, ensures balanced geographical representation and participation from developing countries. Saudi Arabia is of the opinion that ITU would be the appropriate choice as it has a wealth of work processes and valuable experience in organizing and managing intergovernmental and multi-stakeholder activities.