July 6, 2004 8:37 AM PDT

Australia signs on to global spam fight

Government agencies in Australia are teaming up their counterparts in the United States and United Kingdom as part of international efforts against spam.

The Australian Communications Authority and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission have signed a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, the U.K. Department of Trade and Industry, the U.K. Information Commissioner and the U.K. Office of Fair Trading to try to reduce the amount of cross-border spam affecting the countries.

Bob Horton, acting chairman of the communications authority, said the agreement announced Friday will provide a framework for cooperation on the issue. The amount of unwanted, bulk e-mail messages has ballooned in recent years, clogging in-boxes, taxing servers and keeping tech support staffs on the defensive.

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

Horton acknowledges that the memorandum 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, multipronged approach blending regulation, self-regulation and industry initiatives, technical solutions and user awareness," he said.

The agreement is an important next step to help law enforcement agencies on three continents combine their resources to combat junk e-mail, Timothy Muris, chairman of the FTC, said in a statement. "Illegal spam does not respect national boundaries," he said.

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

Abby Dinham of ZDNet Australia reported from Sydney.

 

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