UK signs up to international anti-spam agreement

Britain has signed up with the US and Australia to fight the growing menace of spam, by vowing not to become a 'haven' for junk emailers

Australian communications and competition bodies signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with agencies in the United States and the UK in Washington yesterday as part of the latest international effort against spam.

The Australian Communications Authority (ACA) and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) have joined forces with the US Federal Trade Commission, the UK Department of Trade and Industry, the UK Information Commissioner and the UK Office of Fair Trading to reduce the amount of cross-border spam affecting the countries.

Acting ACA chairman Dr Bob Horton said the agreement would provide a framework for cooperation on the issue.

"The signing of the MoU will allow us to exchange best practice and policy ideas as well as conduct joint investigations into serious spam violations," he said.

Dr Horton added that the MoU will not be a silver bullet to solving the international spam problem; however he said the agreement will support anti-spam efforts and "the continued development of e-business and e-communications while combating cross-border fraud".

"Most of the spam coming into Australia comes from overseas so tackling the problem has to be through a global, multi-pronged approach blending regulation, self-regulation and industry initiatives, technical solutions, and user awareness," he said.

Signatories of the MoU expressed their determination not to be "safe havens for spammers" according to Dr Horton. He also said the ACA has called on the various agencies to work with their governments to help tackle the issue.

"Increasingly we are seeing the spammer's technology being used for hacking attacks on computers and for theft and other crime which makes it even more critical that we take concerted action," said Dr Horton.

ACCC chairman, Graeme Samuel, said in a statement released on Monday that the agreement builds upon the cooperation already established between the countries.

"The parties recognise that spam is a growing and serious problem, one which creates considerable costs for businesses, is often misleading and deceptive and undermines consumer confidence. International cooperation is necessary if we are to combat the problem of spam," he said.

The ACA said the signing will be followed by increased discussions between the parties and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) conference on global spam legislation, awareness and collaborative action held in Geneva this month, which Dr Horton will chair.

"Domestically, we will continue to work with industry and consumer groups to maximise the impact of our efforts against spam," Dr Horton said.

The agreement is the latest move in Australia's international spam fighting efforts, following a MoU signed with the Republic of Korea in October of 2003 to promote regulation of spam.

ZDNet Australia's Abby Dinham reported from Sydney. For more coverage from ZDNet Australia, click here.

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