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ITU wants codes of conduct for tackling global spam

15 March, 2006

A report from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) on the spam issue considers that a more effective approach would be to require the establishment of enforceable codes of conduct by Internet service providers, but at the same time promoting anti-spam legislation in all the countries in the world.

ITU has recently published its 7th edition of Trends in Telecommunication Reform that examines the regulatory challenges and opportunities of enabling ICT development. The report provides regulators with tools they can use to promote effective and innovative development and use of ICTs in a competitive environment. The 7th chapter, publicly available on the ITU website, consists in a report prepared by John Palfrey, Executive Director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, regarding the present global spam problems and possible solutions.

The report, presented in a draft form also at the Global Symposium for Regulators (GSR) held in Tunisia on 14-15 November 2005, just before the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), considers that efforts by governments to counter internet spam by tracking down and prosecuting spammers have had a limited impact. The solutions suggested are basically a combination of approaches including anti-spam laws that should be promoted in all the countries, enforceable codes of conduct, but also education and awareness activities.

The report concludes: "Despite the challenges that are bound to lie ahead, regulators should encourage the adoption of an anti-spam law that is harmonized, as much as possible, with those of other countries. Such an anti-spam law might involve creating an enforceable code of conduct for ISPs, placing the responsibility for mitigating spam closer to where the technical expertise lies."

However, other big players in the international Internet services arena are considering different approaches. AOL has recently announced a controversial plan to charge mass e-mailers a fee to bypass their anti-spam system.

A large coalition, including MoveOn, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Gun Owners of America, announced their opposition to AOL's program, saying it will create an unfair system for delivering e-mail. A public website was created for all the NGOs or persons that support the opposition. The groups say payment does not ensure a message is legitimate and the certified e-mail program won't help non-profits and mailing-list operators whose missives are frequently misidentified as spam.

Trends in Telecommunication Reform 2006: Regulating in the broadband world (8.03.2006)

Chapter 7: Stemming the International Tide of SPAM (8.03.2006)

Are Spam Blockers Too Strict? (06.03.2006),70335-0.html?tw=rss.index

An Open Letter to AOL (28.02.2006)



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