International forum takes fight to spammers


25 European countries and 15 from Asia have united in an effort to put pressure on countries that fail to combat spam.

A statement from the Asia-Europe Meeting group (ASEM) said the countries were committed to tackling spam both with legislation and new levels of international cooperation.

"It marks a sea-change in attitudes towards spam," said Steve Linford, director of anti-spam lobbyists Spamhaus who lectured ASEM members at a conference this week. "It used to be a situation where Government officials would understand the problem but not know how to deal with it. Now we have a blueprint and a real understanding at the right levels, it's very encouraging."

The ASEM countries, which include EU nations, China, Korea and Japan have launched a joint statement detailing how the intend to approach the spam problem.

Measures agreed to include increased international cooperation, active dialogue between the public and private sector and cross-border regulation.

Mooted in previous EU meetings and mentioned in whispers at ASEM is the possibility of new EU wide legislation.

"UK legislation on its own isn't strong enough," said Linford. "A stronger EU-wide legislation, similar to the Australian anti-spam policy, is on its way. But it will take about two years, the wheels move very slowly on these things."

Australian anti-spam legislation imposes massive fines on anyone sending unsolicited marketing emails and has helped to dramatically cut spam levels in that part of the world.

One of the major themes to emerge from the conference was the US and China continuing to be home of the majority of the world's spammers.

"The US is where the problem is," Linford said. "But with this new attitude we can apply some pressure."

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