Asian countries join hands against spam

Regulators and computer associations across the region have signed an pact to step up the war against spam.

12 Asia-Pacific communications and Internet agencies have joined the Australian Communications Authority in signing a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in countering spam.

ACA acting chairman Bob Horton said the memorandum--the Seoul-Melbourne Anti-Spam Agreement--was "focused on sharing knowledge, information and intelligence about known sources of spam, network vulnerabilities, methods of spam propagation, and technical, educational and policy solutions to the spam problem".

The agencies involved include:

  • the Internet Society of China;
  • Commerce, Industry and Technology Bureau, Hong Kong (CITB);
  • Philippines Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT);
  • Philippines Computer Emergency Response Team (PH-CERT);
  • the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC);
  • the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Japan (METI);
  • Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Japan (MIC);
  • New Zealand Ministry of Economic Development (MED);
  • Taiwan Computer Emergency Response Team / Coordination Centre (TWCERT/CC) and;
  • the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, Kingdom of Thailand (MICT).

The new document is based on an agreement signed in late 2003 between the ACA, the National Office for the Information Economy (NOIE) --since renamed the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO)--and the Korea Information Security Agency.

Horton said Australia and Korea had already swapped information on technological solutions to spam, education programs for business and consumers, trends and solutions for mobile phone spam and the shutting down of compromised systems that are hosting phishing scams or offensive content.

"These new cooperative relationships will help us to make the business of spamming less profitable, which will in turn benefit Internet users. We can now build on the success of the Australia-Korea MoU and expand our efforts through the combined skills, contacts and influence of agencies across the Asia-Pacific region," he said.

Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Helen Coonan also welcomed the agreement saying that "encouraging better international cooperation and enforcement is key to the government's strategy to combat spam".

Since the Spam Act was implemented in Australia 12 months ago, the ACA has required 200 businesses to amend practices to comply with the new regulation. Infringement notices and on-the-spot fines have also been meted out for both e-mail and SMS spam.

Australia previously signed an anti-spam agreement known as the London Action Plan, which draws together government agencies from the United Kingdom, United States, 11 European nations, Korea, Japan, Mexico, Canada and Chile.

ZDNet Australia's Staff reported from Sydney.