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Federal Trade Commission Joins OECD Fight Against Internet Spam
[April 21, 2006]

Federal Trade Commission Joins OECD Fight Against Internet Spam


TMCnet Associate Editor
 
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) yesterday officially endorsed recommendations by international forum Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) for increasing the enforcement of cross-border, anti-Internet-spam laws.
 
Thirty countries, including the United States, make up the OECD, which promotes economic growth, trade, and development.

 
A press release outlining OECD recommendations describes spam as “a vehicle for deception, for spreading viruses and spyware, and for inducing consumers to provide confidential information that can later be used to commit identity theft.”
 
Because of the largely unregulated nature of the Internet—users can send their messages from anywhere in the world to anyone in the world—spam poses unique challenges for law enforcement.
 
OECD recommends that, to address those challenges, law enforcement agencies be given the following authorities.
  • Ability to take action against spammers located in, or targeting, consumers in their territory

  • Ability to share information with foreign law enforcement when appropriate

  • Ability to assist with investigations being carried out by foreign authorities

  • Ability to partner with industry and consumer groups, in order to educate users and promote information sharing

  • Ability to cooperate with the private sector in locating/identifying spammers
 The list of recommendations also specified that countries should cooperate in international enforcement efforts.
 
In its official endorsement of the OECD’s recommendations, the FTC noted that it already has implemented many of the suggestions.
 
The FTC listed the following initiatives it has taken to help fight spam worldwide.
  • Engaged in aggressive law enforcement against international spammers

  • Worked with an international network of spam enforcement authorities

  • Partnered with the private sector on consumer education

  • Encouraged the private sector to implement domain-level authentication systems
 Currently, the FTC is working to get a related bill, “U.S. SAFE WEB Act,” passed by Congress.
 
The bill—which if signed into law would help the agency fight spam by, among other things, giving the agency authority to initiate cross-border law enforcement projects—passed the Senate in March. It is now pending committee hearings in the House.
 
Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.), who introduced the bill, commented in a statement to the press that “We can effectively fight Internet crime in the United States, but until we give the FTC clear directives and jurisdiction abroad we won't be able to get to the heart of the problem.”
 
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Mae Kowalke previously wrote for Cleveland Magazine in Ohio and The Burlington Free Press in Vermont. To see more of her articles, please visit Mae Kowalke’s columnist page.
 

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